Babbling Corpse

Babbling Corpse In The Age Of Global Capitalism, Vaporwave Celebrates And Undermines The Electronic Ghosts Haunting The Nostalgia Industry Ours Is A Time Of Ghosts In Machines, Killing Meaning And Exposing The Gaps Inherent In The Electronic Media That Pervade Our Lives Vaporwave Is An Infant Musical Micro Genre That Foregrounds The Horror Of Electronic Media S Ability To Appear As Media Theorist Jeffrey Sconce Terms It Haunted Experimental Musicians Such As INTERNET CLUB And MACINTOSH PLUS Manipulate Muzak And Commercial Music To Undermine The Commodification Of Nostalgia In The Age Of Global Capitalism While Accentuating The Uncanny Properties Of Electronic Music Production Babbling Corpse Reveals Vaporwave S Many Intersections With Politics, Media Theory, And Our Present Fascination With Uncanny, Co S Mic Horror The Book Is Aimed At Those Interested In Global Capitalism S Effect On Art, Musical Raids On Mainstream Indie And Popular Music, And Anyone Intrigued By The Changing Relationship Between Art And Commerce

Grafton Tanner is a writer and musician from Georgia His writing has appeared in The Nation, The Los Angeles Review of Books, We Are The Mutants, and other locations, and his debut book, Babbling Corpse Vaporwave and the Commodification of Ghosts, was published with Zero Books in 2016 He is currently writing a book on Big Tech and nostalgia, and he writes and performs music with his band Superp

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  • Paperback
  • 104 pages
  • Babbling Corpse
  • Grafton Tanner
  • English
  • 13 October 2019
  • 9781782797593

10 thoughts on “Babbling Corpse

  1. says:

    Babbling Corpse is a book which looks at a bizarre phenomenon in recent history an emerging subgenre of music spawned in the wake of American overindulgence Vaporwave is an odd style of music, but a powerful one using ambient noises, nostalgic sounds such as shopping mall background music, 1990 s TV adverts and video footage from earlier eras, often warped by machines for an eerie aesthetic, vaporwave celebrates everything our world has come to shun and hate about pre 9 11 overindulgence and materialism This book dives deeper beyond the music and looks at the psychology, societal attitudes and life experiences which have stirred up this new thing, and the facets of pop culture which have been adopted into it.While maybe Babbling Corpse reads a bit too much into vaporwave music, this book does give a concise and good background to it and some interesting theories about how we seek content in the digital age which gives off a haunted atmosphere It also looks at how nostalgia has become marketable, and how this alters our perception of the past and present.

  2. says:

    a great first real published book to come out on vaporwave it touches enough on the subject independently, but is mainly concerned with the cultural concerns that surround it which is, in my opinion, totally relevant and okay he seems to know everything that is important, but i think gives too much credit to graham harman and pitchfork possibly TMT the most obvious flaw above my critique of OOO is that he rips into avengers as drivel cinema, while praising cabin in the woods as some sort of deconstructionist masterpiece without acknowledging that they are by the same director.i think there was to work with than what he presented and that this could be extended into something larger, but as far as i am aware he is one of the first to actually publish on this subject in a meaningful way and did so with great promise i m still skeptical of object oriented ontology because it seems reductionist to me i r t marx who seemed to assert the opposite as realism but i haven t read enough yet to adequately respond to the author s adherence to philosophical trends.this should all be read as complimentary the author knowledgeably tackles contemporary culture and succeeds, while even acknowledging the importance of the caretaker, negativland, and death grips i d cite u

  3. says:

    More like three and a half The author is clearly very young, and offers an intelligent and worthwhile critical analysis on a hyperniche musical movement within the accelerated culture that deserves such academic attention As a gateway into the analysis of hauntological scholastic studies, it is valuable if only as a summation of its sources BUTAs someone who has suffered from depression for a decade plus now, what I took as the author s tacit admission of being a fellow sufferer in the acknowledgments made abundant sense as a guiding force behind his interpretation When I stumbled upon the proto spf420 collective when room surfing in turntable.fm, I didn t want to hang with them because of any post 9 11 malingering capitalist monoculture malaise It was FUN There was a definite sense of humor amidst the nihilism, and this book focuses on the latter almost to a fault I like vaporwave because it helps me get out of depression and to think less of the miserable world described within this text Perhaps Simpsonswave, a largely vapor soundtracked meme that finally helped many of my friends understand the appeal of the music, would be worthy as an additional chapter But the authors views are definitely validi just don t see it as quite as dark Apart from that, my only complaint is that the sections that venture into philosophy are largely a series of quotations from pretty heavy texts that a layperson such as myself largely intimidated by the works of merleau ponty et al cannot fully appreciate, which is fine The last chapter is really good but I m sorry, I don t care how capitalist Taylor swift is, you re not going to make me hate the ear candy of 1989 If anything, I wish I d had the notion to write a book about my larger turntable.fm experience while it was still fresher in my mind Stupid short term memory loss.

  4. says:

    For now, we live in the mall, but I think it s closing soon Few words can truly capture how impactful this work was Grafton Tanner, in his debut work, has given me a vocabulary with which to speak about ideas that I had long held yet had no way to express Aside from providing a wonderful guide to those seeking to get vaporwave, this also provides a nice little introduction to OOO and musicology Tanner, while unloading heavy concepts, is also a master of writing in particular, the last paragraph was earth shaking The only complaint I have is that this work is so short but considering it s the work of a grad student, and the first book published on vaporwave, this is no true complaint Tanner provides a wonderful compendium of source material and suggestions for further reading, and I will certainly be spending much time with the same sources he pulled from.To sum it up I have never before read a book so good that I immediately started a correspondence with the author I emailed Mr Tanner the moment I finished this This is the beginning of what may be a very important young man s career in academia, and I look forward to the future.

  5. says:

    really didnt expect a book on vaporwave to blow me away this much but i am thoroughly impressed the book feels sort of pretentious, but thats a problem that all music writers seem to have theres no good way to discuss music without listening to it, without letting your audience hear it you have to describe music, describe how it feels to listen to a song, and doing that work seems pretentious theres no way around this anyone who writes about music sounds like some smug mu asshole without necessarily meaning to do so.but in the second half and particularly the last third, the author makes this light book on vaporwave into an absolutely scathing critique of mass culture i mean, he is fucking brutal tanner is ultimately asking is any of this instant access to instant gratification even worth it and the we delve into it the we realize that perhaps it isnt, perhaps vaporwave is a response to a traumatized society incapable of experiencing true emotion everything is there at our fingertips we dont need to worry about not having access, we just need to worry about missing out and the entire media and culture industry has adapted to capitalisms soul sucking in ways that feels hollow and inadequate we are ghosts being sold ghost music.its a short but damning read, 10 10

  6. says:

    Babbling Corpse is een boek dat ikzelf had willen schrijven.

  7. says:

    Interesting discourse analysis of vaporwave music and visual aesthetics Definitely worthwhile reading if you are into internet sub cultures and micro genres It has a lot of references of audiovisual pop culture it is handy while reading it to have a smartphone so you can search the examples mentioned The concept of hauntology is beautiful used and illustrated.

  8. says:

    excellent read

  9. says:

    I m not sure why I decided to read a book about vaporwave in 2019 since, as I understand it, the genre has long been dead I d considered reading Babbling Corpse when it first came out, but synopses I read lent the impression that whatever passingly interesting while or less straightforward takes on the music and its aesthetics it contained would be saddled down with too much over simplistic anti capitalism fluff to ultimately warrant a read So I passed.Only to pick it up a couple years later when the music had arguably exceeded its prime Having finished it, I m realizing that it was because vaporwave is past its prime that I finally read it Vaguely I d begun envisioning some commentary that would treat vaporwave the way vaporwave treats the recent past, that would reinvigorate it by compressing and condensing it into something essential than it ever in fact was I let building nostalgia for the genre I enjoyed override my initial reservations about the book which in the end proved correct.How have I managed to stick with vaporwave despite my failure to identify with its anti capitalism origins Largely because vaporwave has splintered into too many subgenres micro micro genres to sustain anything like a consistent political message But to the degree that something like this does hold I think it s the wrong way to interpret it or at least the wrong way to phrase it Anti consumerism, yes, but consumerism and capitalism aren t the same thing, and their frequent treatment as synonyms generates confusion Consumerism is to some degree an individual spending mentality or time preference independent of the economic system, and then it s also the result of monetary and fiscal policies favored by Keynesian economists which aim to instill this mentality into the population There are other flavors of government policy still within the capitalism framework that don t make the same emphasis or that deemphasize it Different conceptions of capitalism and many a tweak could send the system in quite divergent paths At any rate, capitalism in the book isn t really defined the impression is that the readership will arrive already equipped with a healthy disdain for whatever that term might encompass The capitalist consumerist equation is unfortunately one that Grafton Tanner takes and runs with although he usually uses the phrasing unrestrained capitalism as if what we have, what he s rebelling against, is anything near being free of restraint , leaving him ill equipped to fashion any denunciation sophisticated than what s already baked into the music itself it s origins at least The music actually seems a little complex in these respects setting firmly into print what s so strongly implicit in the subject of analysis in fact makes parts of the book even a little embarrassing to read Setting aside a concerted rallying cry at the end of the book, such analysis generally arrives here and there by inserting something effectively the equivalent of because of capitalism after some otherwise half interesting, engaging even, observation that on its own would be perfectly worthy of inclusion in a book on vaporwave It s not quite as clumsy as that, but it s not all that great an exaggeration either the point being that keeping the interesting discussion separated from the bloat is a mental subtraction that s not too difficult Still, these over simplicities will likely prove annoying to readership segments beyond the pro market crowd If it helps with the arithmetic in making the call on whether or not to read it, the book s only 71 pages The idea is that vaporwave makes visible the wreckage of the present, robbed of its last scraps of meaning by capitalistic excess, by putting on ironic display the consumerist relics of our recent past in all their warped glory If the only remaining cultural avenue for expression we re left with is to continue mining the past in the hopes of exhuming a blueprint for the next retro revival, vaporwave will do likewise, but it will do so grotesquely, humorously, uncannily, so that our necromancy might not continue totally unperceived.While I agree about the ongoing decline in meaning, I m suspicious of the attributed cause Yes, vaporwave makes visible the wreckage of the present, but it s a developmental coordinate that it highlights, not a particular present Trouble distinguishing signal from noise, or isolating multiple contradictory signals in the same sea of noise, these are problems we d presumably be contending with in any alternative present where the informational and accompanying entropic infrastructure had reached the same point of development.Vaporwave crafts an interplay between our ironically and authentically experienced nostalgias It mocks how naive it was to accept at face value such simple cultural ideological transmissions while honing an intense fascination for a time when it was possible to do so We ve lost meaning to the granularity of our inspection not to what we ve chosen to focus our inspection on, but to what we ve made it possible to inspect While vaporwave s aesthetic is shaped by shopping malls and cola advertisements, it isn t these specifically that we long for Our longing aims generally at a period of time, one when the entropic frontier was a visible horizon that we strode purposefully toward Before meaning disappeared for good beyond that horizon, into concentric rings of snowballing extremes and microscopically tapering granularities, it used to manifest at the human scale Where novelty manifests now in increasingly arcane data structures at scales we can t directly interface with, it formerly evolved before our eyes, creating new cultural landscapes as it went 90s computer design is another element of the vaporwave aesthetic, digital touchstones from a time when you actually logged on and logged off of the internet How recent, yet how quaint A choice vaporwave sample, You ve got mail , summons a time when you needed something to inform you whether or not you d actually received a new email Now a counter displays the non zero number of unread messages you have accumulating in an always open inbox There s undeniably a consumerist commentary in vaporwave but it s difficult to pinpoint much than that Despite an almost visceral disgust toward advertising, I frequently have dreams set in the shopping malls of my youth The yearning is for a time when it was possible to get lost and to get bored Parking lots and highways cordoned the mall off from any external reality and my only link with the outside was a quarter for the payphone to call for a ride home.Regrettably my process when encountering new music these days involves hopping through an album in segments of thirty seconds to a few minutes to gauge whether or not it d be something I d enjoy listening to if I had the time to listen to music any, drifting off into fantasies of what it d be like to actually listen straight through Vaporwave s genius is in counteracting this sort of scan listen music perusal Through repetition of short samples vaporwave turns scan throughs into a practical joke The recognizability of its substrate chart toppers and sonic ambiances from prior decades makes clear that the listening experience is being deliberately slowed The decelerated soundscape that emerges palpably precludes information overload, serving as cathartic antidote to 2x podcast listening and hurry up and enjoy yourself media binging Tanner s analysis focuses on a fairly narrow scope of vaporwave, but as I already noted vaporwave is somewhat vaster Here s a nice video outlining its history and internal divergences Its Marxist origins fairly early dissolve into the much general aim of creating transportive experience alternative soundscapes and timescapes and e scapes electronic escapism if the pun wasn t clear Escapism, so than resistance to capitalism, becomes an aesthetic commonality.As our capacity to manipulate matter and information becomes increasingly fine grained, activity on a human scale becomes second third , fourth , fifth order effect installing us into a virtual reality completely coextensive with the world of our physical bodies, an envelope of noise that absorbs whatever signal we attempt to transmit through it Abandoning capitalism in an effort to reinstall meaning would simply be another avenue of escapism Would mandating that humans perform historical reenactments of jobs that any machine could do that is, forestalling automation flood the world with dignity and meaning As things progress of our lives adopt this reenactive performative aspect.An excess of concern over the crisis of capitalism distracts from the ongoing entropic crisis Plastered onto our shared event horizon are the last bits of meaning that were scaled for human interface In an effort to prevent these fading signals from blinking out of existence we ve amplified them, autotuned them, knocked the gain around, and subjected them to whatever other digital augmentations we could concoct to keep them alive, imbuing gaudy revival with fleeting verisimilitude Vaporwave made this losing strategy visible But this was only its initial phase With the implicit realization that reality has surpassed our sensorial remit, vaporwave took these last scraps of meaning and, disavowing any pretension they had in their original incarnations to uniformity of appeal or narrative self consistency, comingled past with future aesthetic into soundscapes which evoked eras that never existed yet which were still somehow padded with nostalgic feeling.So is vaporwave dead It s fractured and evolved too much at this point like capitalism for that to any longer be a meaningful designation In one of the book s interesting analyses, Tanner likens vaporwave to punk in the way that vaporwave takes a critical stance, under a proliferation of pseudonyms, has strong accompanying visual component, and manifests and circulates in DIY fashion But vaporwave s subsequent dissipation into the broader stream of internet music says something about the wider revolution Tanner advocates.Is punk dead What does it mean for a genre to be dead They die when they re codified into an aesthetic Once codified as such they can be dis simulated at will Sporting a mohawk makes only one statement at this point, fashion statement and an especially obnoxious one since the wearer hopes to win points for the rebelliousness for which that haircut has been encoded, for what s merely an alternative brand of conformity Fashion has already incorporated its own dissent And then how in a world with increasingly fewer prohibitions do you voice disapproval when almost anything you wear will be interpreted as you doing your thing As it is for fashion, so it goes for aesthetics broadly To the degree that vaporwave is a new form of punk, like cyberpunk or steampunk, it s punk aesthetic If there s an online punk today when there is no opt out it d be the cypherpunk.None of this is to paint vaporwave as a failure or in some way less gratifying When asserting dissatisfaction or merely non accidental indifference an indifference that makes a difference requires effort than taking an active part in the system, vaporwave s struggle in making assertions along these lines has been valiant And for a music that has created so much confusion as to whether it should be classified as a new genre or just a meme, the fact that it s still around at all is impressive This ambiguity is part of vaporwave s allure I did like much of Tanner s analysis, but vaporwave isn t something to classify so certainly It seems to thwart certainty than it thwarts capitalism Its longevity maybe stems from apart maybe from its initial phase making approval and recrimination near impossible to disentangle The nostalgia incorporated into vaporwave plays an important role in shaping this ambiguity Are we nostalgic for the synthetic worlds evoked by these soundscapes this would be a feat or merely for a time that had a future that we could interface with, for a time prior to nostalgia s codification But Tanner wants to end with a rallying cry something to the general tune of Vaporwave is punk and let s bring down capitalism Now that vaporwave s quintessential 2011 Floral Shoppe has received an 8.8 10 in Pitchfork s Sunday retrospective review feature when they d almost not even mentioned the genre prior, it should be time for any remaining hangers on to be second guessing vaporwave s ultimate revolutionary potential Vaporwave is now old enough to haunt us.If power has been increasingly centralizing, it s because our media s reach has outpaced their sensitivity More locally directed action involved sorting ourselves with an inaccessible resolution There s a strong intuition that says that the knowledge we collectively accumulate the greater our ability to coordinate and calibrate society with greater and greater acumen But in fact, the greater the granularity of our knowledge, the we re able to dis simulate the affairs of the human scale Coordination at grand scale hereby suffers under the continuous requirement for verification What at first blush resembles consensus on closer inspection is revealed as a massive ongoing DDoS attack whereby society s few conspicuous chokepoints are flooded with the varied individual definitions of what society is that each of its constituent members generates The increasing malleability of our network topologies within physically static geographies, on the other hand, engenders novel action at the local level because such reorganization reconstrues locality Centripetal macro narrative, which had always been a poor fit but couldn t be overcome due to the prohibitive cost of self sorting, begins to dissipate Not only is there a complete satisfaction of our individual affinities but new, specific, and potentially ad hoc affinities become possible to organize around.Revolution, to have any prospect of success, must make the simulator its target Revolution within the simulation will be simulated revolution The simulator cares nothing about Only the rules are real While today s institutional orders are far from ideal, the solution isn t to topple them but to obsolesce them hopefully without much further collateral obsolescing of ourselves, but that may very well be the necessary price Although simulation is inescapable, there s no ultimate solution that is, we don t want some unitary simulation imposed upon everyone at the expense of all other simulations And the system should be structured such that it doesn t rely on putting the right people in charge Such unstable equilibria are far too undependable to build anything atop of Even the best of us however you d chose to define that too quickly entertain ideas of installing the right simulation Music, of whatever micro genre, isn t going to fix this Because simulation is inescapable the idea is to optimize the system for the proliferation of simulations in order to maximize the chance of finding one that s enjoyable, one you feel like inhabiting rather than escaping which will be the case when forcing people into a simulation they would not choose , one that although it may be a simulation of a time that never actually existed back when reality was real you can feel nostalgic for Tanner ended with an exclamation point when it should have been with a question mark Revolution is already coded as such What do we do in light of that

  10. says:

    For now, we live in the mall, but I think it s closing soon Very hauntological Some good lines view spoiler For Derrida, no celebration must be had with regards to global capitalism, for it does not spell redemption from political or personal suffering He illustrates that such belief in the power of capitalism as a freeing institution is foolish, for it will not promise utopia With suffering mounting every day in the wake of the newest moment of capitalism, Derrida argues we are nowhere near the end of history Hauntology, therefore, is the artistic mode of realizing this failure of the future that was promised in the past It is the dismantling of the definitions of past, present, and future and is absolutely political in its critique of capitalism Hauntology then is unlike Jameson s pastiche in that it complicates the past specifically, the past s image of the future in order to call attention to capitalism s destructive nature as a subjugating force that only fools others into thinking it can eradicate history i.e the ideologies Derrida mentions above.Thus, hauntological art serves as a political and aesthetic update to Jameson s and Hutcheon s theories of postmodernism by erasing any sense of time or space in art and by illustrating the past s continual reminder of the future s failure in the form of haunting This haunting always implies some kind of distance between the specter and that which is haunted the present hide spoiler

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