A couple of years ago, I became obsessed with Pentatonix, a phenomenal a cappella group who gave songs the filthiest drum and bass breakdowns.
Their version of 'Love Lockdown' seemed particularly full of dirty tricks. A fake violin on the descending minor chord, uber-sickly vocals, and a darker beat than even Ye could have given it; I'd play it to people who would otherwise tease the a cappella in me and come home to find the doubters willingly stuck in YouTube spirals of mash-ups.
Two albums on, and Pentatonix are writing originals, though none more beautiful than this. Stay, in particular, for the flips of the middle eight, and download a free arrangement from their website if you’re brave.
“I think some of the digital media hoarding is partly a reaction to mobility. If you lived a very immobile life, a very traditional village life, you might have less of a need for doing this. The past would just live with you a lot more. You’d be living in the house that you grew up in, or nearby. There would be a lot of people around who you knew because they knew you when you were little.” But today, “people feel their past is an ephemeral thing that easily slips away and nobody shares.”
The strangely poetic science of personal data analysis.
"It’s for my Queer and Feminist Comparative Literature Theory class." “Let me write that down…” “I took it more for the teacher than the class. My school was all-male until the sixties, and she was one of the first teachers at the women’s college. She’s really respected.” “So what’s one important thing she’s taught you?” “… about how it’s important for feminists to evaluate everyday occurrences. How even routine personal interactions are political. Everything is significant, and even little things have meaning.” “Is it possible to see too much meaning in little things?” “Well, there does seem to be some people who go around looking for things to be angry about. But if the alternative is to be desensitized to how small things affect us, I think it’s better to be overly sensitive.”
Without waiting, I have spoken to you of my computer, of the little portable Mackintosh on which I have begun to write. For it has not only been the first substrate to support all of these words. On a beautiful morning in California a few weeks ago, I asked myself a certain question, among so many others. Without being able to find a response, while reading on the one hand Freud, on the other Yerushalmi, and while tinkling away on my computer.
According to Archive Fever (1995), Derrida was both the original hipster and a magnificent humble bragger:
As a teen, I read an unusual amount of historical biography. For my sixteenth birthday, my mum’s boyfriend gave me a 2,000 page volume on the life of Adolf Hitler. For my seventeenth, I got a tome on Lyndon Baines Johnson.*
But despite the weirder bent of my reading habits, somewhere between my interest in Johnson and a complete aversion to conspiracy theories, my knowledge of JFK’s assassination remained patchy at best. So this week, in a lecture to mark the fiftieth anniversary, I gasped when I watched the Zapruder footage for the first time. It was surprising, perhaps, because the lecture itself was so unsurprising. Although relatively ignorant, I felt like I knew enough “about” the event to have prejudged the severity of the shots that were fired at the President. Or that someone might have gotten round to mentioning it by now.
First Listen: Lorde - 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World' from the ‘Catching Fire’ soundtrack
Maps & Atlases covered this song during their tour in March, and it reminded me how brazenly upbeat a song about megalomania could be. Lorde’s missing a trick by stripping off the skippy intro and channeling the song through the much darker magic of Marilyn Manson; the original’s joyful sadness was one of its best features.
Then, after he left me, the beginning was not only the first, happy occasion, opening into an infinite number of happy occasions, it also contained the end, as though the very air of that room where we sat together, in that public place, where he leaned over, barely knowing me, and whispered to me, were already permeated with the end of it, as though the walls of that room were already made of the end of it.
I’m reading about Lydia Davis at the moment, but, man alive, I have to read The End of the the Story through my fingertips. It’s so clever, because every fragmented admission, the extract above, for instance, or the meta-textual references to Davis’ translations of French, feels like an autobiographical truth slipping out of the illusion.
Obviously, this is never really the case, but it’s a great example of a novel where very little happens, a work that isn’t driven by the desire to reach the end of a story, but that couldn’t be anything but a novel in form. Every narrative moment is “already made of the end of it”, inextricably linked to Davis’ process of writing. It’s a non-novel about novels, an autobiographical fiction, the beginning and the end of stories.
Thinking aloud, is it also becoming increasingly common to have ‘A Novel’ stamped on the cover of literary fiction? In addition to the Heti school of the ‘novel from life,’ that is, I wonder if it ever really went away.
Quiet Enjoyment is now a bit less quiet. Between the Tribble-like proliferation of communicative gizmos (watch “I Forgot My Phone" and have a good cry) and a generation that has been raised watching movies, not in hushed movie theaters but in rec rooms, Quiet Enjoyment has lost cachet, and as it diminishes, the presumption of Quiet Enjoyment starts to come off as unctuous.
Another invocation of “quiet” as an absent contemporary aesthetic, though the argument comes a little too close to conflating Quiet Enjoyment with silence.
Jill Scott - “Golden (Kaytranada’s Life Living Edition)”
I’m unashamed in my love for this song, though I’ll admit it’s pretty erratic as a single. The percussion is killer, but the dynamics are skewed; the roaring bridge never really builds into anything because the chorus (“like Christmas Day came ear-ly”) is just a little bit underwhelming.
There’s still something great about it, though, and about Little Mix in general. The harmonies are lush, the beat is fine, the interlude is riotous, and they’re looking less and less like a TLC blueprint from the ’90s. Whenever I see them, I think about what Zadie Smith claimed of Madonna, about her giving “a generation of girls the idea that she wasn’t to be ‘done’. If anyone was to do the doing if would be you.”