Comment on Simon Reynolds’ Retromania discussion


Here’s my comment posted to ‘Pop Culture Consuming Itself? Simon Reynolds Discusses Retromania‘, published on The Quietus:

The reference made to late or transnational capitalism is I think apposite. Benjamin and Žižek amongst others are useful in understanding the political foundations and the effects of unprecedented choice that we’re subjected to by default.

It seems so misguided to be actively searching for influences to achieve difference. It makes me think of advertisers attempting to achieve differentiation through design. Tarkovsky in Voyage In Time says that young directors should look to their lives for inspiration, to work from their lives. Originality comes in my experience from deep engagement and focus. I briefly had a correspondence with Jon Hassell and was struck by how little music he listened to, he much preferred silence. Alva Noto said this too in a recent interview. Less really is more in my cultural experience. Less allows space for the listener/viewer to engage rather than be overwhelmed. I’ve had a lifelong respect for Kraftwerk who chose to exercise the discipline of not releasing albums: 10 records in 40 years – yet I ultimately listen to them more than any other. Similarly Borges and his handful of volumes of short stories.

I’m now 45 and have often been an early technological adopter. After reading 10 or so novels on my iPhone, being plugged into Twitter, numerous RSS feeds, etc., I’ve returned to the pleasure of reading books, significantly reduced my net usage and found myself listening intensely to a fairly small number of musicians in gradual succession. I feel more grounded, engaged and focused now. And sort of relieved!

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