i don’t want society’s beauty standards to be realistic. I want them to be even more unrealistic and unattainable. i want surrealist beauty standards. Accept no less than the physically impossible for everyone.
You think it will never happen to you, that it cannot happen to you, that you are the only person in the world to whom none of these things will ever happen, and then, one by one, they all begin to happen to you, in the same way they happen to everyone else.
Your bare feet on the cold floor as you climb out of bed and walk to the window. You are six years old. Outside, snow is falling, and the branches of the trees in the backyard are turning white.
Speak now before it is too late, and then hope to go on speaking until there is nothing more to be said. Time is running out, after all. Perhaps it is just as well to put aside your stories for now and try to examine what it has felt like to live inside this body from the first day you can remember being alive until this one. A catalogue of sensory data. What one might call a phenomenology of breathing.
I guess I understand that sadness or whatever else you could call it and it’s a shame I don’t know you better, or I’d just invite you to come to amsterdam for a while, maybe, instead of becoming a hermit or before becoming one. It’s a nice city. lots of water. trees. not very ordered. easy to get lost in, or killed by a tram.
wish i could pull your through the screen over the sea and far away here for a walk out in the cool night air and somehow help you find a way to be in the world (I’m having trouble staying in myself but I think I’m starting to learn how to deal with gravity).
I’m wasting my life. Why do I say yes to these things and no to everthing that should be a yes. Why distance why cocooning why leave-me-alone why staring at screens why talking to people who don’t have answers only categorisations and cognetive adjustments why tell myself that effortless is worthless, why this seeking of psychological pain as a way to attain something worth holding softly without strangling it, why wounds and why picking at any imperfection until it becomes enormous, why never show weakness, why hate bodies make me a mannequin doll, unsex my useless flesh, unskin unbone, I just want to see the rules of nature broken once, birds flying in reverse, I want to see maps come alive and hear the stories grow out of your fingertips, I want to want, I want to yes and yes and yes and know a no when I need it.
The only way to sum up this evening would be the conclusion that I truly have the alcohol tolerance of a toddler. Basically I don’t actually get drunk I just get really really sleepy after a few sips and start draping myself over people . Not sexily. I’m there to absorb your body warmth and also use you as a pillow.
I’m crocheting flowers with teeth n feeling extremely miserable (physically) (which is why I have switched to granny mode and am not in a museum as planned but on the couch and crochetting w/a bunch of Adorno books on my ereader. My legs are mostly covered in bandages and basically this sucks. HOWEVER. I did just come up with the best name for my music project which I feel like I’ll probably never actually release but who cares. It’s a very good, memorable name and not taken yet. also the radio has classical spanish music hour or something and that is very nice, particularly the piece that just ended, which I’m going to look up in a minute because it was that good (Klara fm - you can actually listen online too)
you walk into the apartment and there are rose petals leading you to your bed, past your bed, out the window, back around to the front door again, you’ve been following the path for several hours now. is this romantic? you’re hungry and scared
I’m really not sure how much I agree with Adorno, a lot of his writing on music is obviously dated - but he does say some really interesting things. I should probably read some recent commentary on it later. Any recs ?
“Distraction is bound to the present mode of production, to the rationalized and mechanized process of labor to which, directly or indirectly, masses are subject. This mode of production, which engenders fears and anxiety about unemployment, loss of income, war, has its “non-productive” correlate in entertainment; that is, relaxation which does not involve the effort of concentration at all. People want to have fun. A fully concentrated and conscious experience of art is possible only to those whose lives do not put such a strain on them that in their spare time they want relief from both boredom and effort simultaneously. The whole sphere of cheap commercial entertainment reflects this dual desire. It induces relaxation because it is patterned and pre-digested. Its being patterned and pre-digested serves within the psychological household of the masses to spare them the effort of that participation (even in listening or observation) without which there can be no receptivity to art. On the other hand, the stimuli they provide permit an escape from the boredom of mechanized labor.
The promoters of commercialized entertainment exonerate themselves by referring to the fact that they are giving the masses what they want. This is an ideology appropriate to commercial purposes: the less the mass discriminates, the greater the possibility of selling cultural commodities indiscriminately. Yet this ideology of vested interest cannot be dismissed so easily. It is not possible completely to deny that mass consciousness can be molded by the operative agencies only because the masses “want this stuff.”But why do they want this stuff? In our present society the masses themselves are kneaded by the same mode of production as the arti-craft material foisted upon them. The customers of musical entertainment are themselves objects or, indeed, products of the same mechanisms which determine the production of popular music. Their spare time serves only to reproduce their working capacity. It is a means instead of an end. The power of the process of production extends over the time intervals which on the surface appear to be “free”. They want standardized goods and pseudo-individualization, because their leisure is an escape from work and at the same time is molded after those psychological attitudes to which their workaday world exclusively habituates them.
Popular music is for the masses a perpetual bus man’s holiday. Thus, there is justification for speaking of a pre-established harmony today between production and consumption of popular music. The people clamor for what they are going to get anyhow.”—On popular music: III. Theory about the listener by Theodor W. Adorno, with the assistance of George Simpson Originally published in: Studies in Philosophy and Social Science, New York: Institute of Social Research, 1941, IX, 17-48
“Under contemporary economic conditions, it is often futile to look for “corruption”, because people are compelled to behave voluntarily in ways one expected them to behave in only when they were paid for it. The journalists who take part in the promotion of a Hollywood “oomph-girl” need not be bribed at all by the motion picture industry. The publicity given to the girl by the industry itself is in complete accord with the ideology pervading the journalism which takes it up. And this ideology has become the audience’s. The match appears to have been made in heaven. The journalists speak with unbought voices. Once a certain level of economic backing for plugging has been reached, the plugging process transcends its own causes and becomes an autonomous social force.”—From On popular music: II. Presentation of the material
by Theodor W. Adorno, with the assistance of George Simpson Originally published in: Studies in Philosophy and Social Science, New York: Institute of Social Research, 1941, IX, 17-48.
“Provided the material fulfills certain minimum requirements, any given song can be plugged and made a success, if there is adequate tie-up between publishing houses, name bands, radio and moving pictures. Most important is the following requirement: To be plugged, a song-hit must have at least one feature by which it can be distinguished from any other, and yet possess the complete conventionality and triviality of all others. The actual criterion by which a song is judged worthy of plugging is paradoxical. The publisher wants a piece of music that is fundamentally the same as all the other current hits and simultaneously fundamentally different from them. Only if it is the same does it have a chance of being sold automatically, without requiring any effort on the part of the customer, and of presenting itself as a musical institution. And only if it is different can it be distinguished from other songs — a requirement for being remembered and hence for being successful.
Of course, this double desideratum cannot be fulfilled. In the case of actual published and plugged songs, one will generally find some sort of compromise, something which is by and large the same and bears just one isolated trade-mark which makes it appear to he original. The distinguishing feature must not necessarily be melodic, but may consist of metrical irregularities, particular chords or particular sound colors.”—On popular music II. Presentation of the material by Theodor W. Adorno, with the assistance of George Simpson Originally published in: Studies in Philosophy and Social Science, New York: Institute of Social Research, 1941, IX, 17-48.
The musical standards of popular music were originally developed by a competitive process. As one particular song scored a great success, hundreds of others sprang up imitating the successful one. The most successful hits types, and “ratios” between elements were imitated, and the process culminated in the crystallization of standards. Under centralized conditions such as exist today these standards have become “frozen”. That is, they have been taken over by cartelized agencies, the final results of a competitive process, and rigidly enforced upon material to be promoted. Noncompliance with the rules of the game became the basis for exclusion. The original patterns that are now standardized evolved in a more or less competitive way. Large-scale economic concentration institutionalized the standardization, and made it imperative. As a result, innovations by rugged individualists have been outlawed. The standard patterns have become invested with the immunity of bigness — “the King can do no wrong.”
This also accounts for revivals in popular music. They do not have the outworn character of standardized products manufactured after a given pattern. The breath of free competition is still alive within them. On the other hand, the famous old hits which are revived set the patterns which have become standardized. They are the golden age of the game rules. This “freezing” of standards is socially enforced upon the agencies themselves. Popular music must simultaneously meet two demands. One is for stimuli that provoke the listener’s attention. The other is for the material to fall within the category of what the musically untrained listener would call “natural” music: that is, the sum total of all the conventions and material formulas in music to which he is accustomed and which he regards as the inherent, simple language of music itself, no matter how late the development might be which produced this natural language. This natural language for the American listener stems from his earliest musical experiences, the nursery rhymes, the hymns he sings in Sunday school, the little tunes he whistles on his way home from school. All these are vastly more important in the formation of musical language than his ability to distinguish the beginning of Brahms’s Third Symphony from that of his Second. Official musical culture is, to a large extent, a mere superstructure of this underlying musical language, namely, the major and minor tonalities and all the tonal relationships they imply. But these tonal relationships of the primitive musical language set barriers to whatever does not conform to them. Extravagances are tolerated only insofar as they can be recast into this so-called natural language.
In terms of consumer demand, the standardization of popular music is only the expression of this dual desideratum imposed upon it by the musical frame of mind of the public — that it be “stimulatory” by deviating in some way from the established “natural”, and that it maintain the supremacy of the natural against such deviations. The attitude of the audiences toward the natural language is reinforced by standardized production, which institutionalizes desiderata which originally might have come from the public.
From “On popular music: The musical material by Theodor W. Adorno, with the assistance of George Simpson Originally published in: Studies in Philosophy and Social Science, New York: Institute of Social Research, 1941, IX, 17-48.