Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Problem with Exposing Rebecca Black

The mishandling of Rebecca Black is the latest, and perhaps singlehandedly, the furthest reaching example of where the music industry and its organizers have failed their audience and (dare I say) talent. The premature and permanent musical expenditure of Ms. Black - coinciding with a supplementary dose of viral harassment - is of serious concern, especially when the product of such hasty treatment is a 13 year old girl-child. The anti-hit single, Friday, should be known as the commodity sadistically written by Patrice Wilson and produced by Clarence Jay. The acceptance of ARK Music Factory to entertain the ambitions of this unprepared youngling, and their subsequent work-shy composition have ruined what should have been a work-in-progress. The de rigeur dismissal needed was foregone, and instead replaced by the old ‘college try’; this implicates the authors, as well as the financiers. Equally at fault are the exploitive television icons, such as Stephen Colbert et al, who have fed their own egos while concurrently driving the online battering that Black is undoubtedly aware of. The drive for hit singles, the idea of internet stardom and the utilization of music as a vessel for corporate gain have contributed to the subversion of music as an art-form.

The hit-single phenomenon and the attempts to artificially create instantaneous musical success can only be seen as a byproduct of a disingenuous and greed-driven model. From the insincere visual offering, to the banal lyrical content of Friday, there is the semblance that the luminaries were trying to make their creation onto the airwaves by complete stultification of the mind. Or by a disgusting degree of familiarity; don’t we all recognize and love Fridays? It’s not an entirely novel device either: Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night is by no means challenging, with its repetitive chorus and mechanical recommendation to spend it up as an aide-mémoire for club conduct. Admittedly, the latter does enjoy a higher degree of juxtapositional complexity. However, if there exists a challenger who wants to substantiate their claim about a so-called ironic recipe behind this latest concoction, I admire their understanding of the concept to begin with. Tommy Wiseau would have done a better job with her music video. “You’re tearing me apart, Monday!”

On to the concept of internet sensations; I have much experience in the field, being one myself… I suppose my 313 (last I checked) subscribers and 300, 307 views sans promotion isn’t quite as extraordinary as the Star Wars Kid, Numa Numa or the One Night in Paris videos (the night-vision assisted coital showcase by the beloved heiress) who share 900, 700 and 400 million views respectively, and counting. In the case of the former, the young Canadian (native of Trois-Rivieres) filed a harassment lawsuit against four of his former classmates, citing cyber-bullying, and an out-of-court settlement was agreed upon. Gary Brolsma, the star of Numa Numa fame, enjoyed the favourable reception of his terse, yet widespread online recognition. The obnoxious scion, the talent and garment-stripped Paris - in direct variance with the fate of Black - has been presented with additional and gratuitous support; and as tormenting as her sexual showcasing may have been, I purport that she was aware of its eventual release. We can see conclusively that Paris has not been victimized; her public romping has invigorated her infelicitous career as a social elite and paved the way for various supplementary celebrity exhibitions. A secondary example of her willingness to give?

Unfortunately in the latest case, we see the most militant campaign to tear down this young songstress by unsophisticated and surreptitiously unidentifiable users, whose online contributions include: flaming, name-calling and the frequent usage of the ‘dislike’ button. Their zealous detestation has reached pandemic proportions, and Friday has netted a superlative number of ‘dislikes’ and hateful comments for any viral video. To give you an idea of the magnitude: her video has earned 216,557 likes, 1,706,960 dislikes and 1,696,413 comments, the majority of which are pure evil. We must now accept that any degree of online identity for Black, which is now structured into the lives of modern teenagers, is virtually terminated. She is not to blame. I have not browsed for the possibility of a Rebecca Black Facebook page, but only because I’m frightened by what lies behind the binaric curtain of separation. In the case of Justin Bieber, who receives an offsetting dosage of admiration and contempt (the latter for his follicular options), we have been presented with a pop-star who has showcased the modest amount of talent and market value necessitated for entry into the business. The kid can still sing, he can still dance, woo an audience of young girls, can respect meter/play the drums and can also play guitar, though cursed as a lefty. Lady Gaga, the contemporary queen of pop superstardom, can extemporize at the piano, is said to have been classically trained (to what level I don’t know) and has demonstrated at least a talent for quasi-neoteric composition. She is another example of an artist who fits-the-bill and needs little support from the industry nabobs. Black is but a template for tasteless art and for a feigned experiment in musical persuasion; every angle of perception fortifies the claims against her artistic readiness. The internet is but one avenue of exposure; Black may now have the capacity to fill a venue, but she doesn’t have the expertise to win over a paying crowd. She has but one miserable song attributed to her name, and it has already ruined her.

A lack of musical talent is not an uncommon characteristic and no practicing musician needs to be reminded of how difficult acquiring skill is. The unfortunate outlook of many young talents is one of corner-cutting, marketability and of expedient career-building. The insult felt by many serious musicians trying to garner attention through artistic means is not negligible, and they rightfully proclaim that music is an art form of the highest caliber. We see reduced support for the unripened talents in writing and painting who need to acquire their chops to have a career in the first place; what about a premature stint in the world of architecture? The popular music industry has become an arena for trial and error; a place where new artists exceedingly demonstrate a slim grasp of music theory, history, and business savvy. Even those who know their way around the business don’t always have the capital or influence to call the shots. With the ever-widening scope of online access we see what abuse can be assumed by precipitously introduced names . Hopefully in this case we do not lose sight of the victim, a vulnerable adolescent. I consider this a crime and an insult to the consumers. Furthermore, it compromises the integrity of the art-form and blemishes the history of its most pellucid genre. The pop idiom should not be shunned for its lucidity but for the attempted annexation of music from its original intent and its latest hollow efforts. No one need remind me of how art and film are used as vessels for corporate permeation; I am fully aware of the model and the notion is equally execrable.

Indigenous, classical and jazz music will always be at the zenith of musical creation, and the genres have inborn standards. Classical music has also had its financiers, except the aristocracy and elite of the day were interested in contributing to an ancestry of religious and spiritual art. The composers were well-versed in the theoretical and historical aspects of music (most were multi-instrumentalists) and many would have preferred a solitary life of musical creation, as opposed to being congested by self-agrandisement. Chopin embodied the mentality and is quoted as saying, “I’m a revolutionary, money means nothing to me.” The French virtuoso, and Chopin’s neighbour in Paris’ Square D’Orleans, Charles-Valentin Alkan, notoriously sequestered himself from the populace to pen some of the most sophisticated and passionate opuses for the pianoforte. Mozart was catapulted into early fame, and composed his first piano opus at 5 years of age. Although there exists a farcical imbalance between Mozart and Black, we understand that being musically inclined is not a whimsical choice, rather it is a privilege and responsibility. In fact, for most of us it is our life’s struggle. The regression of music standards has never stripped me of being moved by my favourite works, but I am ashamed to live in a society where the majority remain unaffected by the numinous and transcendent beauty of our euphonious past.

If our society has any chance of flourishing we need to prefer craft over trend and art over rubbish. A reduced admiration for the arts is an alarming exemplification of where we have been weakened by inculcation. No one needed Rebecca Black the artist, and the frivolous campaign behind her is a blunder that should not go unnoticed. Patrice Wilson, Clarence Jay and the parents of Ms. Black are infinitely guilty of stripping this young girl of her decency and so are we.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ulysses: Episode 17, Ithaca (an excerpt on astrological and biological inquiry)

He believed then that human life was infinitely perfectible, eliminating these conditions?

There remained the generic conditions imposed by natural, as distinct from human law, as integral parts of the human whole: the necessity of destruction to procure alimentary sustenance: the painful character of the ultimate functions of separate existence, the agonies of birth and death: the monotonous menstruation of simian and (particularly) human females extending from the age of puberty to the menopause: inevitable accidents at sea, in mines and factories: certain very painful maladies and their resultant surgical operations, innate lunacy and congenital criminality, decimating epidemics: catastrophic cataclysms which make terror the basis of human mentality: seismic upheavals the epicentres of which are located in densely populated regions: the fact of vital growth, through convulsions of metamorphosis, from infancy through maturity to decay.

Why did he desist from speculation?

Because it was a task for a superior intelligence to substitute other more acceptable phenomena in place of the less acceptable phenomena to be removed.

Did Stephan participate in his dejection?

He affirmed his significance as a conscious rational animal proceeding syllogistically from the known to the unknown and a conscious rational reagent between a micro and a macrocosm ineluctably constructed upon the incertitude of the void.

Was this affirmation apprehended by Bloom?

Not verbally. Substantially.

What comforted his misapprehension? 

That as a competent keyless citizen he had proceeded energetically from the unknown to the known through the incertitude of the void.

In what order of precedence, with what attendant ceremony was the exodus from the house of bondage to the wilderness of inhabitation effected?

Lighted Candle in Stick borne by


Diaconal Hat on Ashplant borne by


With what intonation secreto of what commemorative psalm?

The 113th, modus peregrinus: In exitu Israel de Egypto: domus Jacob de popula barbaro.

What did each do at the door of egress?

Bloom set the candlestick on the floor. Stephen put his hat on his head.

For what creature was the door of egress a door of ingress?

For a cat.

What spectacle confronted them when they, first the host, then the guest, emerged silently, doubly dark, from obscurity by a passage from the rere of the house into the penumbra of the garden?

The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.

With what meditations did Bloom accompany his demonstration to his companion of various constellations? 

Meditations of evolution increasingly vaster: of the moon invisible in incipient lunation, approaching perigee: of infinite lattiginus scintillating uncondensed milky way, discernible by daylight by an observer placed at the lower end of a cylindrical vertical shaft 5000 ft deep sunk from the surface towards the centre of the earth: of Sirius (alpha in Canis Major) 10 lightyears (57,000,000,000,000 miles) distant and in volume 900 times the dimension of our planet: of Arcturus: of the precession of equinoxes: of Orion with belt and sextuple sun theta and nebula in which 100 of our solar systems could be contained: of moribund and of nascent new stars such as Nova in 1901: of our system plunging towards the constellation of Hercules: of the parallax or parallactic drift of socalled fixed stars, in reality evermoving from immeasurably remote eons to infinitely remote futures in comparison with which the years, threescore and ten, of allotted human life formed a parenthesis of infinitesimal brevity.

Were these obverse meditations of involution increasingly less vast?

Of the eons of geological periods recorded in the stratification of the earth: of the myriad minute entomological organic existences concealed in cavities of the earth, beneath removable stones, in hives and mounds, of microbes, germs, bacteria, bacilli, spermatozoa: of the incalculable trillions of billions of millions of imperceptible molecules contained by cohesion of molecular affinity in a single pinhead: of the universe of human serum constellated with red and white bodies, themselves universes of void space constellated with other bodies, each, in continuity, its universe of divisible component bodies of which each was again divisible in divisions of redivisible component bodies, dividends and divisors ever diminishing without actual division till, if the progress were carried far enough, nought nowhere was never reached.

Why did he not elaborate these calculations to a more precise result?

Because some years previously in 1886 when occupied with the problem of the quadrature of the circle he had learned of the existence of a number computed to a relative degree of accuracy to be of such magnitude and of so many places, e.g., the 9th power of the 9th power of 9, that, the result having been obtained, 33 closely printed volumes of 1000 pages each of innumerable quires and reams of India paper would have had to be requisitioned in order to contain the complete tale of its printed integers of units, tens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, billions, the nucleus of the nebula of every digit of every series containing succinctly the potentiality of being raised to the utmost kinetic elaboration of any power of any of its powers.

Did he find the problem of the inhabitability of the planets and their satellites by a race, given in species, and of the possible social and moral redemption of said race by a redeemer, easier of solution?

Of a different order of difficulty. Conscious that the human organism, normally capable of sustaining an atmospheric pressure of 19 tons, when elevated to a considerable altitude in the terrestrial atmosphere suffered with arithmetical progression of intensity, according as the line of demarcation between troposphere and statosphere was approximated, from nasal hemorrhage, impeded respiration and vertigo, when proposing this problem for solution he had conjectured as a working hypothesis which could not be proved impossible that a more adaptable and differently anatomically constructed race of beings might subsist otherwise under Martian, Mercurial, Veneral, Jovian, Saturnian, Neptunian or Uranian sufficient and equivalent conditions, though an apogean humanity of beings created in varying forms with finite differences resulting similar to the whole and to one another would probably there as here remain inalterably and inalienably attached to vanities, to vanities of vanities and all that is vanity. 

And the problem of possible redemption?

The minor was proved by the major.

Which various features of the constellations were in turn considered?

The various colours significant of various degrees of vitality (white, yellow, crimson, vermillion, cinnabar): their degrees of brilliancy: their magnitudes revealed up to and including the 7th: their positions: the waggoner’s star: Walsingham way: the chariot of David: the annular cinctures of Saturn: the condensation of spiral nebulae into suns: the interdependent gyrations of double suns: the independent synchronous discoveries of Galileo, Simon Marius, Piazzi, Le Verrier, Herschel, Galle: the systematizations attempted by Bode and Kepler of cubes of distances and squares of times of revolution: the almost infinite compressibility of hirsute comets and their vast elliptical egressive and reentrant orbits from perihelion to aphelion: the sidereal origin of meteoric stones: the Libyan floods on Mars about the period of the birth of the younger astroscopist: the annual recurrence of meteoric showers about the period of the feast of S. Lawrence (martyr, 10 August): the monthly recurrence known as the new moon with the old moon in her arms: the posited influence of celestial on human bodies: the appearance of a star (1st magnitude) of exceeding brilliancy dominating by night and day (a new luminous sun generated by the collision and amalgamation in incandescence of two nonluminous exsuns) about the period of the birth of William Shakespeare over delta in the recumbent nerversetting constellation of Cassiopeia and of a star (2nd magnitude) of similar origin but lesser brilliancy which had appeared in and disappeared from the constellation of Corona Septentrionalis about the period of the birth of Leopold Bloom and of other stars of (presumably) similar origin which had (effectively or presumably) appeared in and disappeared from the constellations of Andromeda about the period of the birth of Stephen Daedalus, and in and from the constellation of Auriga some years after the birth and death of Rudolf Bloom, junior, and in and from other constellations some years before or after the birth or death of other persons; the attendant phenomena of eclipses, solar and lunar, from immersion to emersion, abatement of wind, transit of shadow, taciturnity of winged creatures, emergence of nocturnal or crepuscular animals, persistence of infernal light, obscurity of terrestrial waters, pallor of human beings.

His (Bloom’s) logical conclusion, having weighed the matter and allowing for possible error?

That it was not a heaventree, not a heavengrot, not a heavenbeast, not a heavenman. That it was a Utopia, there being no known method from the known to the unknown: an infinity, renderable equally finite by the suppositious probable apposition of one or more bodies equally of the same and of different magnitudes: a mobility of illusory forms immobilized in space, remobilized in air: a past which possibly had ceased to exist as a present before its future spectators had entered actual present existence.

Was he more convinced of the esthetic value of the spectacle?

Indubitably in consequence of the reiterated examples of poets in the delirium of the frenzy of attachment or in the abasement of rejection invoking ardent sympathetic constellations or the frigidity of the satellite of their planet.

Did he then accept as an article of belief the theory of astrological influences upon sublunary disasters?

It seemed to him as possible as proof as of confutation and the nomenclature employed in its selenographical charts as attributable to verifiable intuition as to fallacious analogy: the lake of dreams, the sea of rains, the gulf of dews, the ocean of fecundity.

What special affinities appeared to him to exist between the moon and woman?

Her antiquity in proceeding and surviving successive tellurian generations: her nocturnal predominance: her satellitic dependence: her luminary reflection: her constancy under all her phases, rising and setting by her appointed times, waxing and waning: the forced invariability of her aspect: her indeterminate response to inaffirmative interrogation: her potency over effluent and refluent waters: her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency: the tranquil inscrutability of her visage: the terribility of her isolated dominant implacable resplendent propinquity: her omens of tempest and of calm: the stimulation of her light, her motion and her presence: the admonition of her craters, her arid seas, her silence: her splendour, when visible: her attraction, when invisible.