fjb, local currency: solo 1992-1998 (fayettenam)

the human hearts, civics (tight ship)

the human hearts on myspace

nothing painted blue, taste the flavor (shrimper)

info on older band and solo work; I have no idea who compiled the scarily complete discographies


[66] Rough Cut and Ready Dubbed (1982, Hasan Shah and Dom Shaw). U.K. doc covering late punk and associated musics (oi, mod, two-tone) in and around London. Valuable as a reminder of just how everyday subcultural gig violence was at the time, and for sharp interviews w/ John Peel, Tony Wilson, and the NME’s Charles Shaar Murray, who is hilariously smart and self-regarding. Of the musicians interviewed, Stiff Little Fingers’s Jake Burns comes off as the most reflective, and the performance clips of “Suspect Device” and “Alternative Ulster” are strong. The Purple Hearts and The Cockney Rejects, by contrast, are just shite; Sham 69’s in-studio lip-sync of the Transformer-ish “Poor Cow” is a pisstake; The Selecter are represented, unfortunately, by one of their weaker songs (“Missing Words”); A Certain Ratio, whom I’ve never really gotten, would be nothing w/o (black) drummer Donald Johnson; Patrick Fitzgerald should be getting royalty checks from Jeff Lewis (not that I expect that Jeff Lewis is rolling in it); an unknown-to-me figure named Johnny G has the last word with “You Can’t Catch Every Train,” a solo-electric-plus-kick-drum ditty that anticipates, hmm, early Everything But the Girl. This is on DVD, but I don’t know whether that release includes the 25th anniversary coda the film shown here (in BAM’s “Punk ‘n’ Pie” series), with many of the original, now much fleshier interviewees. The guys from the Purple Hearts appear to have gotten smarter, Jake Burns more pretentious, and the Cockney Rejects look curiously Americanized, collectively working a pukka-shell/Warp Tour roadie look. Tony Wilson, who makes some latter-day claims for current black U.K. R&B (“of course, I always love my own artists,” not sure who he meant) not long before his death, ages the least. The recent footage also includes an acoustic performance by Burns, Bruce Foxton, another guitarist who doesn’t seem to have been identified, and The Selecter’s Pauline Black (a bit guant and far less joyful than in the early performance clip) of a fucking horrible new song called “She Grew Up” (“…but she never grew old.”).

Makes me a little nervous about the upcoming Magazine reunion. Devoto is about the last person I want to see tarnish his legacy. (That Buzzkunst album wasn’t good, but hardly anyone noticed it.)

[67] Brian David Mogck, Writing to Reason: A Companion for Philosophy Students and Instructors (2008, Blackwell). What the subtitle says; meant as a sidecar to whatever texts constitute the first-order content of an intro course in philosophy. Much of the advice (section title: “The Only Outline You Need is a Sketch of the Argument You Plan to Make”) seems unremarkable to me of course, but I doubt that the book’s often sclerotic tone (“The Cardinal Virtues: Logical Rigo and Clarity of Expression”) would do much buy confirm the prejudices of the students with whom one struggles the most – bright but resistant, either tempermentally or because of early exposure to other methodologies in the humanities – against a certain kind of careful dialectical work on sharply-articulated questions. (That said, the identificatory footnotes on Continental figures are admirably non-snarky.)

Two somewhat philosophical points that bug me. A glossary early on states:

“The truth conditions of a sentence are the states of affairs that must hold in the world for a sentence to be true. The truth conditions of the sentence “Snow is white” are simply that crystals of frozen H2) must reflect all wavelengths of light equally.”

The first sentence is, of course, an accurate description of the way the notion of “truth conditions” is used, whether or not one cares for the metaphysical picture broadly implied. As to the second: well, Tarski and Davidson, among others, would disagree mightily; more to the point for the student reader, there’s an uncashed rhetorical check in the implication that the “wordly” conditions that make an ordinary sentence true (or false) are canonically expressed by a scientistic-sounding quasi-precisification in the object language. The claim made assumes too much about the semantics of “snow” and “white”; if these assumptions of made, too much epistiemology is imported into the semantic and merely formal notion of “truth” at issue. Unfortuately, the safer disquotational account that could be given – “The truth conditions of ‘snow is white’ are that snow is white” – will look empty to most students (I can assure you) without a grasp of the object/meta-language distinction.

The discussion of thought experiments and conceptual analysis (98-99) seems to go silent on just how the philosopher is to judge whether theoretical reconstructions comport with concepts as we actually use them; that judgment, it appears, requires some intituive appeal to our own facility with the concepts. Maybe that’s troubling, maybe not, but for the author’s purposes, the issue needs to be made far more explicit.

Overall, there seems to be a bit of mission creep here from methodology and writing advice to philosophical substance; Martinich’s similarly intended Philosophical Writing is more pragmatic.

[68] Jennifer Bartlett, Derivative of the Moving Image (2007, University of New Mexico). Lyric occasioned by trauma (primarily, the death of a sister) and sustained more by intensity of observation than by ‘music.’ The poet’s cerebral palsy is frankly present (“If my spine were not a question mark”), but neither the body nor others’ misunderstandings of it is made the central fact of the book; the obvious ways one might write mimetically of “disability” are avoided. Not as much cinema as the title might indicate: one poem on a specific film by Assayas, a few set more generally in theaters and one in a “Camera Obscura” (“When I was a child/my parents brought me here/but kept me here/but kept me outside,/Excluded from this dark chamber,/the projected landscape.”) Not a cheerful book, but by any measure an honestly made one.

[69] P.G. Wodehouse, The Mating Season (1949, Herbert Jenkins Ltd.). I’ve never read a Jeeves book; now I have, and probably won’t read another (though I could believe that radio or TV adaptations might be enjoyable enough). I like encountering the U jargon and all, but, really, isn’t the central joke that the butler is a hundred times smarter, more competent, and decent than anyone he serves a bit of a sad, not to mention repetitive, one? The mannered quality, and much else, would seem more forgivable if the book were twenty years older, and the extent to which the humor of Wooster’s narration depends on hyperbole (“…her son Thomas, one of our most prominent fiends in human shape…”) also wears thin, almost immediately. Even in a mood for “trivial” fiction, I think I’d be more apt to reread Firbank, Harry Matthews , or Van Vechten (esp. Firecrackers and Spider-Boy).

[70] Kevin Killian, Action Kylie (2008, I.G.I.N.e.C.I.) I’m down with Kylie and all, in a non-obsessed generalist kind of way (I’m now inclined to look up Towa Tei’s “G.B.I.”), but Kevin is probably the only poet who can make me swallow references to her or anyone else’s appearance in Luhmann’s Moulin Rouge, probably because I feel secure in assuming that he’s not ignorant of Huston’s. Love that there’s a poem here that consists entirely of the release information and tracklisting (including, crucially, writers and producers) of KM’s City Games (cf. Jane’s “French Narratives”). I think the main risk of the book – more so, if memory serves, than the more overtly form-intensive Argento Series -- is its casualness at the level of the line, but it almost always pays off by the end of the poem: “Good Like That” and “Is It All Over My Face?” are beautiful poems, tricking us into fear, even sublimity, and making it look easy. And, of course, the poems for Gwen Aurajo clarify, if there was any doubt, how high the stakes here actually are.

[71] Colette Inez, Spinoza Doesn’t Come Here Anymore (2008, Melville House). One of those books you briefly flip through a full-price copy of somewhere (the bookstore in Penn Station, I think), and are sufficiently intrigued by to pick it off a dollar rack at The Strand. Strong, funny start w/ the localisms of the title poem (“We seek him out at Leroy’s Pharmacy”) and a pantoum on Perry Como, but soon looses focus in a round-robin of adolescent memory poems, magic realism, jotty observational lyrics (I think one needs to title a poem something other than “On a Day of Elliptical Musings,” even – especially – if that’s accurate), and higher-register myth-and-history stuff. The arrangement of the book as a whole appears unstrategized, and weakens some good individual pieces (“Pegeen, Real Lace”). Afraid this one didn’t make it over for me.