January 19th, 2004


Germany calling! Germany calling!

I spent Sunday writing an article for the April edition of Index magazine. I can't really go into what it's about because mags like to keep wraps on their forthcoming issues, but it had a lot of overlap with some of the themes in the recent essays on the Momus website, Pluricide and Wrong Is The New Right.

Now, these essays have a rather dark undertone, and the Index piece seemed even more so. I wonder if it's winter, or weariness with the continuing awfulness of the Bush regime, and the signs that the American people plans to keep it there until 2008? Or is it simply a correct and realistic reaction to news stories like Doom Warnings Sound More Strongly?

I tend to have two basic tones, breathless optimism and admiration on the one hand, and dismay, resentment and derision on the other. Of course they're two sides of the same coin, and that needs to be shown occasionally. But I have a real feeling of pride when I'm hyping stuff and a feeling of shame when I'm demolishing something. The Pluricide essay sneaked out like a guilty secret, with only a link from a Daily Photo to announce its existence. A picture of me as a Pierrot, as it happens: an odd juxtaposition which no doubt inspired the least flattering endorsement on my Friendster page, Sean Talley's comment: "What an extraordinary mix-up," says Sartre, "narcissism and social theories - it just doesn't make sense." (Not making sense, though is exactly what makes Sean's bizarre and cute video games so original.)

If there's a model of the kind of blog I didn't want to make when I started Click Opera, it's Ian Penman's irritable jeremiad The Pill Box, a bitter pill indeed with its rantings against the British media. For God's sake and ours, Ian, just switch off if it makes you so angry! Don't get addicted to your own disgust!

This morning, though, I came across a reminder of the positive uses of disgust with one's own culture: to warn others not to make the same mistakes! Uriel Wittenberg's American Culture -- a Warning for China is a splendid piece of cultural treason, an address to the Chinese by an American mormon unconvinced of his own culture's validity as a role model. The essay reminds me of the spoof press release I made for Ping Pong when it came out, which proposed a scenario in which the Chinese government made 'artistic director Momus' a sort of Lord Haw Haw figure, casting aspersions on the decadence of my own culture.

I was quite enjoying Uriel's analysis until he started calling for the media to be gagged. Actually, what the hell, let them gag the decadent mainstream media all they like. But hands off blogs!