When I interviewed Spin Senior Editor Christopher R. Weingarten last year, we spoke of the re-emergence of the tangible and the exclusionary nature of the cool culture. While it's easy to lambast any proponent of such notions as ironic/daft PBR-swilling plaid-clad hipsterism, I've realized that Weingarten proffered us a solution. As indie labels attempt to grasp what SOPA means to them (this is the only piece of journalism I will cite that I did not produce) there is an answer that lies along a polar divide.
If 1957 truly marks The Birth of The Cool (the year Miles Davis dropped the famed compilation), then 2012 must mark The Death of it. If insane notions of the meritorious -- those abstract justifications we pile onto artists in order to legitimize our personal brands --- held sway, the Internet would function more as real life does. That is to say, with honesty, integrity and reality. Humanizing a particular critic, artist or writer keeps us humble, faithful and true. So we're supposed to guilt Weingarten because he's a Juggalo supporter? So we're supposed to trip on Juggalos as a whole? As if our freedoms were limited only to urban centers like Williamsburg for communities of like-minded, similarly dressed people to assemble, rather than out in the woods with a particular brand of soda. We all get a chance, OK?
This isn't about a lack of consciousness, selectivity or taste however. Post-jazz pianist Vijay Iyer told me in a recent interview there's an attempt in his circle to abandon the word jazz. Why? Because jazz is no longer a conception of composition. Jazz is now simply a strategy for transformation. Which means, in my summation, the real-world application of The Stream theory of the web: We're able to dive in at any moment, participate, and change. Genres, Iyer told me, are simply misunderstandings of the way we interact. The practical application of jazz is the opportunity to instantaneously engage in the narrative.
This is in part why improvisation and the avant-garde artists written about frequently and always favorably at sites like my alma mater Altered Zones, must be given credence -- who else but John Zorn has the bravery to constantly dialogue with the moment? And while we often think of inclusion in the discourse of musical impulse, it's always restraint, taste and judgment that account for the amount of exclusion in any musical work within negotiation.
Yesterday I wrote a lengthy, ridiculous post using the aesthetic theory of Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, the visionary behind American black metal champions Liturgy. Yes, it was a stretch. But I was attempting to light a fire under the immense polarity of any potential Web critic's ass: What we leave out is just as important as what we leave in. Don't agree with an artist's politics? Then don't mention that artist. We are at a sea change of independent politics that, if we truly believe, we must act upon at all times.
This philosophy, unlike my diatribe on the Arkwork, can be just as pragmatic as SOPA might have been lest the Internet disrupt its roil. What it comes down to is the infinite inclusion inherent in digital rights management and its necessary real-world application of exclusion.
What I'm suggesting here is the formation of an anti-rights management group. If reps from ASCAP can go into a venue or a coffee shop and announce, Hey, you can't play this here, you don't have the right, you owe us money, what is to stop us from banding as one to create our own Coalition of Exclusion? We should be able to do the same, to walk into a place and announce, We have not authorized consent as to the participation of this un-copyrighted work. You owe us money. We are not participating in your 'rights'.
The right to organize this is along a digital divide. The inclusion is in the material. The dialogue, the one affecting our world now, every second of the day, happens right here, online. So guess what, SPIN? You give unflinching coverage to ASCAP and major-label artists? You throw parties sponsored in part by ASCAP? Then you shouldn't get any exclusive rights to premieres, streams or videos from labels like, say, Captured Tracks. You get your Juggalo army, we'll take the hipster brigades. (Is Psychopathic Records considered indie?) Rolling Stone has to take the Hippies to live on The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where I'm currently planning the largest Metallica concert of all time. Pitchfork has the opportunity to stay Green enough to suit my tastes. Every Independent blog should just quit bitching, shake hands, and come to the party.
I know this is dangerous ground to tread. But I don't care. Ask yourself: What is it I do care about? You're doing something wrong, if the answer is certainly not this.
I'm seceding musically. I'm not asking you to come along.