Thursday, June 08, 2006

Fin de Tout?

I just read the Introduction to Ian MacDonald's famed Beatles analysis, Revolution In The Head. There seems little point going on to read the track-by-track analyses, not being a Beatles aficionado, but the Intro puts forward a superb theory I haven't encountered before and which, in our decadence, we might be justified in trying to ignore: that the Sixties, far from being the beginning of a new age, was in fact the last attempt to preserve some sort of sense in a post-religious world of an eternal, carnal present. You really have to read it.

Anyhow, in this Register piece Andrew Orlowski is clearly thinking along similar lines. Mashups of the cultural and more particularly technological kind have, he contentds, led us to a postmodern nomansland strangely redolent of Futurism, Vorticism and all that far-sighted early 20th Century braggadocio. Blogs pointless asides to the real business of Googling.

Well, PAFF! to that. If we do live in an eternal, amoral present, bereft of context and meaning, that doesn't mean we will never make sense of anything ever again. If one is drowning, does that mean that dry land no longer exists? Has never existed? Of course, Mr MacDonald, the transition to a wholly scientific worldview was always going to be painful; and if anything the psychological challenges of the always-on, connected world are even greater. Not every blog offers profound insight, not every mashup a revelation into the relationship between genre, musical structure and the power of marketing. But this is democracy in action. If we are going to make the most of the speck-like nature of our societal role, maybe we need to learn to clam up more, but conversely to make every action - every blog post, every mp3 distibuted - really worth it.

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