Friday, 1 April 2011

Dodgem Logic 8

The inkwell has inevitably dried up somewhat as energies are pooled into Plasm, and four months without posting here seems like forever. The new issue of Alan Moore's Dodgem Logic has belatedly appeared however, replete with a contribution from Simon Munnery no less, though it will sadly be the last in the conventional glossy manifestation that had looked to be serving it so well. My self-illustrated article on hauntology, Giving Up The Ghost, comes after a similar hiatus, having been written and filed back in mid-December.

As a postscript to the piece (which is a response to Reynolds' Society of the Spectral), I should acknowledge that my standpoint on popular music does admittedly come across as rather out of time in places, referring seemingly as it does to a wish for the kind of shocking, epochal Bowie & Ronson/Boy George/Roses & Mondays-style TOTP era-defining moments (timely, in light of all this BBC4 archive-rogering) that I'm just about old enough to remember but no teenager would recognise. I am however just young enough - just livid enough - to feel a touch cheated by haunted audio, as wildly unsuitable a backdrop to events unfurling upon this foetid isle at present - or indeed to my current personal woes - as it is possible to imagine.

Now I'm wouldn't be dumb enough to pretend that the cultural minutiae (which has become formulae) celebrated by the Found Objects crowd, the trivia of a wider hauntology, means nothing to me. Certainly not when all the evidence - especially on this blog - suggests otherwise. That's not the point; I'm approaching my mid-30s and I can - and do - revel superficially in the past from time to time. I love 1981.

My gripe stems from a bemusement at how the straight replication and revisionism of much of haunted audio has advanced apparently unchallenged for so long now. In what way does such dilution, such an unstinting reverence for the past, suffice as an artform? Will it really do? Trunk repackages the past, Ghost Box copy it. Mordant and VHS Head take *exactly* the same points of reference and create. See the difference?

There's also something about the ceaseless repetition of themes and the sheer visibility of all that pulp detritus on Found Objects - the musty paperbacks, the timecoded clips - that just seems to be so utterly ruinous. The romance of discovery, of physical artefacts, of those nebulous, uncanny moments - all somehow devalued by their interminable 'dumping' online. I'm aware of how po-faced that sounds, and I know I've strayed into this territory myself before on many occasions, but it's the extent of the uploading that bothers me; it's actually put me off.

Reynolds can't be blamed simply for lauding the hauntological trend in the first place, but perhaps the drift into middle age has blunted the guile of those taking part. It's impossible for the virtual world meanwhile to adequately accommodate the wider scene's multi-sensory wail. The enterprise has mostly failed.

Dodgem Logic 8 is available from all the unusual outlets. Here's hoping it doesn't suffer a similar fate long term.


  1. I think you're right that it is the extent of the uploading which seems excessive and a bit off-putting.

    If this stuff is to matter it must be made more than a mere trawl through the attic or jumble sale. It must involve an engagement with the public sphere and politics, rather than mere private nostalgia.

  2. Archiving should only be the initial step. Simply re-tweeting the past serves only to populate clip-show clip-joints with debilitating retro viruses. Too much effete ephemera.

    Cheers for tipping me towards VHS Head; how I slept on this until now is a mystery.

  3. what i said to the Anonymous Person who went to the trouble of sending me a PDF of your piece a while back (who was then that then eh?)

    and above all

    why wait four or five years to reveal your misgivings (society of the spectral came out in 2006), you were happy to go along with it at the time

  4. Astonished at this, dare I say it, tardy response.

    Firstly, I know nothing about said PDF.

    Secondly, regarding the "churlish/hypocritical/tardy" jibe, are you of the opinion that I should just be grateful for the exposure that MM received 5 years ago, and shut my mouth ever after?

    Branding me a hypocrite is also a tad cheap; to quote the blog piece on which you've commented:

    "I wouldn't be dumb enough to pretend that the cultural minutiae (which has become formulae) celebrated by the Found Objects crowd, the trivia of a wider hauntology, means nothing to me. Certainly not when all the evidence - especially on this blog - suggests otherwise. That's not the point"

    Regarding the "why wait" line, you've failed to notice that the article is a direct response to what hauntology has become, and not what it was or might have been. I was indeed happy to go along with it at the time, but I didn't imagine that Found Objects would materialise in the way it did or that haunted audio would end up so fogged by straight ahead nostalgia and fanboy dross.

    And I've re-read the piece now, trying to work out why you specifically would have taken such umbrage. Is it the line about your Found Objects comb-over post? You weren't serious, were you? I honestly thought that was the moment when the whole thing completely atrophied.

    From 'Music Has The Right to Children' to comb-overs. Sums it up perfectly.

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