The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'zeitgeist'
The Grauniad has an A-Z of today's music genres, for the old codgers who stopped paying attention years ago at emo, twee pop or grime and started lumping everything into whatever superannuated genre it sounds most like:
Afrobeats: Not to be confused with the 1970s Afrobeat of Fela Kuti – although admittedly it is quite confusing – the addition of an extra "s" denotes a frisky, contemporary fusion of hip-hop, house and west African pop, as championed by London DJs such as Choice FM's Abrantee and 1Xtra's DJ Edu. Nigerian Afrobeats star D'Banj, recently signed to Kanye West's GOOD Music label.
Lazer funk: A convenient appellation for the thrillingly maximal brand of glitchy neon rave favoured by Rustie (pictured, above), Hudson Mohawke, Krystal Klear and their LuckyMe/Numbers pals. May sound daft but it's only slightly less ridiculous than some of the names they came up with themselves. See also: Aquacrunk, wonky house, glitch-hop, post-Dilla
Nightbus: A charmingly apt name for all of the sensitive poshboy quasi-dubstep pleasantness that's followed in Burial and James Blake's wake: too fey for the rave but ideal for when you're riding home – alone – on London's N68.
Voodoo house: A sturdier British response to the witch house fad, as practised by shadowy outfits Demdike Stare, Raime and the Blackest Ever Black clique. Combines eerie found sounds with faceless Detroit techno and Throbbing Gristle-style industrial mischief, plus a working knowledge of the occult, and a penchant for visuals borrowed from sinister instructional films of the 1950s and 60s.
Douglas Coupland, who epitomised the late-80s/early-90s slacker zeitgeist in Generation X, offers a list of terms for aspects of the human condition circa the 2010s:
Blank-Collar Workers: Formerly middle-class workers who will never be middle-class again and who will never come to terms with that.
Grim Truth: You're smarter than TV. So what?
Instant Reincarnation: The fact that most adults, no matter how great their life is, wish for radical change in their life. The urge to reincarnate while still alive is near universal.
Intraffinital Melancholy vs Extraffinital Melancholy: Which is lonelier: To be single and lonely, or to be lonely within a dead relationship?
Zoosumnial Blurring: The notion that animals probably don't see much difference between dreaming and being awake.
As the receding polar ice caps expose land and shipping lanes, setting the scene for the next great international land grab, Iceland's University of Akureyri is offering a course in Polar Law, to prepare a generation of lawyers uniquely equipped to deal with the resulting issues:
Emphasis is placed upon relevant areas of public international law, such as environmental law, the law of the sea, questions of sovereignty and boundary disputes on land and sea, natural resources law, the rights of indigenous peoples in the north, self-government and good governance, and land and resources claims in the polar regions.
(via Boing Boing)
The New York Times, has published its seventh annual Year in Ideas, containing 79 hot memes from 2007, including:
- Community urinalysis:
Sure enough, when Field’s team tested a mere teaspoonful of water from a sewage plant — which it ultimately did in many American cities — the sample revealed the presence of 11 different drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine.
Because it allows for sampling on a daily basis, community urinalysis can track a drug epidemic in real time, showing the police and doctors how the popularity of a particular drug is waxing or waning. For instance, Field says that the use of methamphetamine was constant from day to day — because “once you’re hooked, you’re hooked” — whereas the usage of cocaine sometimes peaked on weekends.
- The "Height Tax":
Should we tax tall workers at a higher rate than their shorter peers? The answer — yes — “follows inexorably” from reigning academic theories of taxation, argues Greg Mankiw, an economics professor at Harvard (and former chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers), in a working paper first circulated in April.
- Prison Poker:
In April 2003 the Pentagon created decks of playing cards to be given to soldiers, all featuring wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle. When he heard this, Special Agent Tommy Ray, a state law officer in Polk County, Fla., got inspired. Two years later, he made his own deck of cards, each bearing information about a different local criminal case that had gone cold. He distributed the decks in the Polk County jail. His hunch was that prisoners would gossip about the cases during card games, and somehow clues or breaks would emerge and make their way to the authorities. The plan worked.
- The Unadapted Theatrical Adaptation:
Collins mounted a production of “The Great Gatsby” without cutting a single word. “Gatz,” which refers to Jay Gatsby’s original name, is the most faithful version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book ever produced. The more-than-six-hour-long drama begins silently in a dismal contemporary office in which white-collar employees go through the motions of their seemingly ordinary days. But when one character has trouble with his computer, he picks up a well-worn paperback copy of “Gatsby” and starts to read aloud. Before long, this office drone evolves rather seamlessly into Nick Carraway, the narrator of the book, and his fellow employees morph into Jazz Age denizens of high society New York, re-enacting the book’s famously flamboyant parties while interjecting lines of dialogue.
And then there are concepts such as Braille tattoos, the "cat lady" conundrum, Craigslist vengeance, the edible cocktail, criminal recycling, vegansexuality, weapon-proof school gear, and genetic-profile-based social networking; not to mention the Gomboc, an inanimate three-dimensional object which can only stand on one side and rights itself if placed any other way.
(via Boing Boing)
It seems that everything from cheese to pornography, from technology to obesity to all-terain vehicles, is "the new heroin" these days.
A list of things announced by journalists to be "the new rock'n'roll". Given that most of these are fairly staid things (suburbia, chicken-keeping, normality, cooking), I get the feeling that a lot of aging journalists with mid-life crises have been attempting to hand-wave their conservative, settled-down lifestyles into extensions of their long-gone youthful iconoclasm. Which, I suppose it is, though it's like saying that middle age is the new youth. (via Rocknerd)
And here's a Google search for "is the new rock'n'roll"; knitting, gambling, e-commerce, architecture and collective weblogging all come up.
Flyer seen in an inner Melbourne café:
Colour me cynical, but I have some doubts about just how deeply the "Melbourne Ukelele Kollective" is informed by Marxist-Leninist ideology, as the name suggests. Granted, they could, by coincidence, be all committed socialists who gather to play the Internationale and other ideologically sound anthems of the radical proletariat on their ukeleles in North Korean-like unison, from each according to his playing ability; though, somehow, I doubt that. What's more likely is that they're just another group who decided to call themselves a "collective" because it's fashionable, in that apolitically consumeristic, Che-Guevara-T-shirt way.
This trend of calling everything collectives has been happening on university campuses for the past decade, as students eke out ways to be revolutionaries and radicals until getting that job at the accountancy firm; now, it seems to have spread to the mainstream, and appears to be losing most of its Red trappings, with "collective" becoming just the trendy replacement for daggy old words like "club" or "society".
What's next: The Chess Collective? The Red Rebel Motorcycle Collective? Celebrity fan collectives?
Lake Superior State University's annual list of banished words is out, listing various words or phrases which came into wide usage over the past year, and should bloody way come out of it. They include obvious ones ("metrosexual", "bling-bling" and the endemic use of "X" in product names), war-related jargon ("embedded journalist", "shock and awe") and miscellaneously annoying or pedantic coinages, like "companion animals" or "hand-crafted latte":
We're not sure where Orin Hargraves of Westminster, Maryland discovered this beauty, but we agreed with his assertion that "This compound is an insult to generations of skilled craftspeople who have mustered the effort and discipline to create something beautiful by hand. To apply 'hand-crafted' to the routine tasks of the modern-day equivalents of soda jerks cheapens the whole concept of handicraft."
"I'm just waiting on 'Shock and Awe Laundry Soap' or maybe 'Shock and Awe Pool Cleaner,'" says Joe Reynolds of Conroe, Texas.
It looks like the major dictionaries are trying to outdo each other at being hip and up-to-the-minute and savvy to the latest street lingo. A while ago, the OED added a raft of neologisms including "bling-bling" and now the Collins English Dictionary has published its list of new words. As well as cultural phenomena ("Sars", "quidditch") there are neonconservative coinages (such as "regime change" and "road map"), SMS abbreviations ("gr8", "want 2tlk"), definitional terms for new aspirational classes ("yetties", "nylons") and even words scraped from WIRED Magazine's made-up jargon columns, like "idea hamster". (Come on; did anybody ever use the phrase "idea hamster" in a non-ironic sense?)
In under 4 hours, 2002 will be over. It was a mixed year; on one level, things were still going to shit. The belle epoque of the 1990s, which we didn't recognise as such of course, is still over; in its place, an age of recession, random terrorist attacks and perpetual war. The world is still sliding closer to World War 3 proper, with the Iraq invasion still on track, and creepy neo-Stalinist cult-state North Korea making the most of this opportunity to build up its doomsday arsenal (and possibly open up a second front). The economy is still fucked (other than Lockheed and such, of course, who can only keep going from strength to strength). We now all know what the good burghers of Tel Aviv must feel like wondering whether the person next to you on the bus is a suicide bomber. George W. Bush is still the most popular president in US history, and this was borne out in Congressional elections, where Republicans swept to victory. That ol' Bush magic is rubbing off on his regional deputy in Australia, with the formerly much derided reactionary PM now seen as a Great Wartime Leader. Total end-to-end copy-denial mechanisms are well on their way to appear in all PCs and anything capable of receiving copyrighted signals, further stomping on our rights in the name of our corporate masters. Global warming is still here, and still being ignored. Brunswick St. is like Chapel St. only less authentic. Things look like they could get a lot worse before they get better.
(OTOH, there are signs of hope. The Greens have made big gains in elections in Australia, and if they keep it up, they'll actually end up winning some seats outside of the Senate. We still don't have suicide bombers blowing themselves up in crowds or on buses in Australia. And there is the chance that things may not quite go to hell, and that if nothing else happens, the world may snap out of it and things may in fact start to get better. Well, we can hope.)
On a personal level, 2002 was an eventful year. A lot of things happened. The big one was, of course, going to the UK in October, which was a profoundly perspective-changing experience. (There's nothing like travel to shake you out of the relaxed and comfortable complacency that grows on you like a crust if you live in one place for too long; but more about that later.) Other than going to the UK, I also bought a proper digital camera, entered an art exhibition, and saw a lot of great live music (including Morrissey and New Order). So, all in all, it wasn't too bad a year.
See you in 2003.
Apparently the message of recent films such as Spider-Man and the latest Star Wars is that celibacy is a heroic virtue, and bootywhang is the root of all evil. Which the author considers surprising, given the traditional belief that Hollywood is a den of hot-tub hedonists whose ultra-permissive liberal ideology infuses everything they touch.
(I'd say that "Hollywood liberalism" is a myth. Hollywood is a set of commercial ventures, far beyond human scale, and dealing in whatever rakes in the most profits; i.e., having a bias towards crowd-pleasing populism, which, by its very nature, sticks to familiar and conservative beliefs and motifs. For every oversexed flower-child auteur, there are dozens of accountants, script doctors, market researchers, lawyers and other components of the studio apparatus to keep them in check, and keep things profitable.)