"Not wishing to resurrect some ancient notion of creativity ex nihilo, but underlying and unifying all the above, I sense a tendency towards entropy: indistinctness, inertia, ultimately indifference. Whether it's good (Since I Left You) or bad (most bootlegs), what we're witnessing is the kind of sonic grand bouffe only possible during a late era. Could it be that the age of retro-mania / file-sharing / sampladelia--where time has effectively been abolished--enables us to use the abundance of the past to obscure the failings and lacks of the present? Well, it's a thought..."
The germ of Retromania? That was written in early 2002, for Unfaves of 2001 (it's in the section called "Lameness on the Horizon", about mashups, or as they were called then, bootlegs / "bastard pop")
Well, it's one of the germs--these questions have been a back-of-the-mind preoccupation for ever, really, and sporadically a front-of-the-mind preoccupation for a really long time too.
In fact I discovered recently that the working title for a piece I wrote in the early Nineties (pegged to the launch of mags like Mojo and Vox, but also dealing with reissue-mania, reformations, etc) was actually "Retromania". But the Guardian went with something else as the headline.
I suppose I do sort of wish to resurrect some ancient notion of creativity ex nihilo
Or at least, I'd rather not unilaterally abandon the idea... I don't quite get the appeal of dancing on its grave with merry abandon, proclaiming good riddance to bad rubbish, and it was only ever a myth in the first place, and an oppressive myth that's "holding us back"
The talk I did in Central Europe was a kind of remix of the Slate piece on recreativity plus elements on the all-new chapter I did for the Ventil Verlag edition of Retromania plus other stuff that occurred to me since. And one of the ironies I pointed out was that :
The old-fashioned ideology of innovation/originality/genius remains the best way of encouraging people to produce new-fashioned music
Whereas the (allegedly) new-fashioned notions of "everything's a remix/we use the old to make the new/"even the Beatles were derivative, were retro", these are a sure-fire route to fostering old-fashioned-music, old-fashioned anything... they are propaganda in favour of underachievement
(Actually, my further point was that these seemingly cool, latest-thing, trendy, hot-off-the-academic press ideas about appropriation/quotation/"unoriginal genius", etc are in fact rather aged themselves -- you could in fact just as easily talk about old-fashioned postmodernism as you could of old-fashioned modernism)
Which mindset gets the best results, that's the question, I think...
Choose your illusion, the most useful delusion...
Speaking of "time has effectively been abolished"...
Here's an interesting interview Bruce Sterling did about atemporality with Renata Lemos-Morais