January 14, 2005



Yesterday, I suggested that maybe nostalgia was the critic's heroin. Before moving to some responses, I want to suggest that I built the question on shaky ground. Is any reference to the past nostalgia? Does carrying a set of beliefs for more than a few months constitute a nostalgic act? What is the difference between the qualities inherent in a thing and that thing? Is celebrating the elegance and polyrhythmic force of "Al-Naafiysh" the same thing as going around playing the song to death? And though he doesn't always recognize a Dreminem lyric, my friend Joshua often asks good questions, and here's one now: Are you thinking or remembering?

I don't think that maintaining a set of principles, experiencing the tug of preferences, or recognizing that your consciousness has been shaped by one song more than another is necesasarily nostalgia. Nostalgia—here begins the freestyling, writtens depleted—is probably less about you and your particular engagements than it is about you and your desire to think magically and make parts of the present go away.

I also imagined heroin was like any drug: good and bad. Helpful and not helpful, but in which ways? Michael posits the critic's cocaine as seeing the present as just an enhanced version of the preferred past, which would position cocaine as a sort of modified heroin. I think this means you would be letting your preferences blind you to historical breaks. (The Other Handist replies: Or, your historical perspective helps you to see cyclical repetition and formal tendencies.) Matos suggests that crit blow is "being the first on your block, e.g. "I discovered grime!" Mike suggests that cocaine is righteousness, which often feels icky the next day.

Mike's correct that righteousness is a cheap high, but is there anything good about it? Wouldn't the proper drug analog both enhance a part of critical thinking while dulling another? Is it possible that, like Stay High 149, the critic should stay high? Is critical thinking like sit-ups, or like operating the Jaws of Life, i.e. something everything should do or something very few should do?

I look forward to an expanding pharmacology.

Posted by Sasha at January 14, 2005 09:46 AM | TrackBack