The Worst Filing System Known To Humans

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Reload the Canons!

This series of articles is an attempt to play through The Canon of videogames: your Metroids, your Marios, your Zeldas, your Pokemons, that kind of thing.

Except I'm not playing the original games. Instead, I'm playing only remakes, remixes, and weird fan projects. This is the canon of games as seen through the eyes of fans, and I'm going to treat fan games as what they are: legitimate works of art in their own right that deserve our analysis and respect.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

So Much To Do/So Much To Say: What Even Is Neil Cicierega's Mouth Moods?

This week, rather than the normal StIT article, I'm instead releasing several pieces of more experimental criticism. The first, going up today, is a live commentary on Mouth Moods, the new mashup album by Neil Cicierega. The second, coming tomorrow to Eruditorum Press's blog, is going to be a more traditional article on some apocalyptic music that all coincidentally came out around January 20th for some weird reason. And finally, there will be a bonus Patreon-exclusive piece posted tomorrow as well on a recent form-shattering Idea Channel video.

You can find some guiding thoughts on this whole experiment, as well as links to the Patreon content, below the cut.

You can listen to the podcast here.






Here's some guiding thoughts.

1. The huge surge of material folding, spindling, and mutilating popular culture is, naturally, a response to that culture, but it's a complex and sometimes ambiguous one. At times it seems to celebrate it, at times it seems to deconstruct it. The point is less to come to a definitive conclusion about the way something like Mouth Moods is oriented towards culture than to look at its effects.

2. One effect is the flattening of culture. Mashing up say Stairway to Heaven with Scrubs flattens them, puts them on the same level, despite the difference in genres and the way each are treated critically--i.e. whether or not they are Art or Masterpieces or whatever.

3. It also asserts a radical claim to pop culture as raw material, changing consumers from passive entities to active participants not just in meaning-making, as any reader is, but also in curation, creation, and production way outside of capitalist modes. That doesn't mean this is intrinsically part of The Revolution, it's not inherently radical as plenty of reactionary memes demonstrate, but it is an expression of creativity that isn't bound by the sale of our wage labor. It's not revolutionary in itself, but it is an expression of the thing driving revolution: the need to reclaim meaning from our labor.

4. This is made possible in part by the development of technologies--by prosthetics--that enable us to treat pop culture as raw material to be mined. If industrial tools turn the natural world into a bunch of resources to be used, open source audio, image, and video editing software turns the cultural world into a similar field of resources, inviting us to treat media as something to be reworked for our own designs.

5. We can see further encouragement in the desire to be part of an ongoing conversation. As our culture becomes more driven by remixing online, being part of that culture means offering our own takes on the memes of the day. The further Neil Cicierega goes with his mashups, for example, the more his work becomes a response to his own previous work and responses to that work and responses to the responses and so on.

6. These works are deeply experiential and affectively charged, often with a mix of humor and disgust. Therefore, mapping out the experience is critical to analysis of it because it is predicated on surprise, misdirection, rupture, reorientation, and so on. Part of the dynamic of call and response (My name is... What? My name is... Who? Hello...?) comes from the immediate experience of these things and the way they disorient us, throw us into the unexpected, challenge us with impenetrable structures all while inviting us to join in creating our own impenetrable structures.

7. So, experimenting with form in criticism to mirror content and even merge with it seems critical to understanding these radical assaults on culture. Jamming things back into a traditional academic frame threatens to obscure the very dynamics that analysis should be uncovering, so the best strategy is to make a radical assault on traditional forms as well.

And that's an idea that I'll be taking up tomorrow. Stay tuned...





COMING TOMORROW: Beeing Seen

In this bonus article: is Idea Channel showing us a new ideal model for how we talk about mashups, memes, and remixes?

Crazy Noisy Bizarre Town

Mob Psycho 100, like comicker One's previous work One Punch Man, has a premise that seems to undermine core aspects of Shonen narratives... or even action narratives in general. Coincidentally, the current arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Diamond Is Unbreakable, has developed in ways that also disrupt traditional storytelling. Might we call these two works post-Shonen? And what can a 1961 short story by Kurt Vonnegut tell us about what these shows are trying to do?

Is The Latest Stevenbomb Referenceing Classic Sci Fi?

The most recent Stevenbomb introduces five episodes of golden age pulp sci fi adventure... but what does the recontextualization of old narrative techniques in this new interconnected narrative form say about golden age sci fi, about Steven Universe's quest for the truth, and... about the fandom's understanding of the show?

MOUTH

Curious to see how this week's image was drafted and digitally finished? Check out the source files here.

COMING TOMORROW: Podcast Raw Speaking Audio

This alternate version of the podcast strips away the background audio, making it perfect for anyone trying to reference more clearly what I'm saying.

COMING TOMORROW, TODAY: An Eruditorum Crosspost!

Check out the draft of tomorrow's exclusive crossover event right now, then buy the 20 tie-in comics! Excelsior!

If The Train Stops We All Die

An experimental Twine essay free to ALL Patreon subscribers on 2016, Snowpiercer, .clipping, and oblivion.

Special Book Vote!

What book should I work on next? The options are neck and neck right now and I'll be calling a close to the vote tomorrow!

A Horizon of Jostling Curiosities

Essays on Homestuck and Form, an ebook on the history of hypercomics and the formal revolution Homestuck started.

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