Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ecstatic Apophenia on Decadence and Dying Earth, part 1 and part 1.5

Part 1 looks at the  “dying earth” subgenre of science fiction, which "takes place in an unimaginably distant future in which the dying sun is but 'a coal-red decadent star, grown old beyond chronicle, beyond legend.'  Stories in this style often overflow the boundaries of both science fiction and fantasy, seeking a liminal space in which one can become the other.  In this pushing the boundaries of form, 'dying earth' ...  is the decadent style to science fiction’s classical style."

EA then quotes Gautier on decadent art: 
  "art arrived at that point of extreme maturity yielded by the slanting suns of aged civilizations: an ingenious complicated style, full of shades and of research... borrowing from all the technical vocabularies, taking colour from all palettes and notes from all keyboards…. rendering modern ideas and things in their infinite complexity and multiple colouration."
That sounds like it could have  lots of application to recent music, from digital maximalism, to what Woebot calls "audio trickle" (as heard in post-Ableton/DAW microhouse) to cutesy-poo (i.e. heavily arranged and orchestrally-tricked out "indie" in the post-Olivia Tremor/Magnetic Fields/et al sense) to...  you name it, really.

EA's contrast between “volume” and “density” -- "a classic style has volume, while a decadent style has density, so much so that it overflows its container" --  seems also to capture that epochal shift in the meaning of "minimal" in the last 20 years of techno. In the 90s, it meant stark, severe, emaciated, empty (early 20th Century modernist, basically). In the 2000s, minimal meant miniaturised, lots of tiny details (hence "micro"), a kind of imploded ornamentalism, an infinite subtilization ....

minimalism, in it first, modernist sense = music that is full of emptiness -- hence "volume"

minimal, in its current and misleading sense, since it is really a form of micro-maximalism = music that is emptied of open-ness... a congestion-zone -- hence "density"

as such it's in perfect homology with the tagliatelle-tangling unspace of the Internet

(as it should be since the same technology substrate underlines the machinery -- digital audio, archiving systems)

glutted/clotted, innit

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