a few words from our local coward, A.L. Muse

[a few words from our local coward, A.L. Muse]

One of the joys of being a public writer is opening one's inbox to occasional abuse from self-appointed critics, lashing out at the world in a concerted effort to prove a secret superiority, via the time-honoured delivery of the calculated, personal insult. It's a good thing too that these emails are often general, non-specific, and violent-- it takes a special sort to send such dribble, a creature so desperate for a response in their own lives, who can't articulate anything other than violence, that the violence directed is particularly their own self-abuse.

I'd like to say I feel pity, but really, I just find them fascinating specimens... Of what I don't know; they don't have the courage to publish their own work in the domain of ideas, and thus, criticism. This is not surprising, as they probably couldn't take the violent, abusive and childish critique they dish out to others. Actually, I take that back: children don't do such things in secret; they don't know how, they do things honestly and in the open--so really what we are dealing with is the essence of what we call the coward. Cowards operate via retorts; they enjoy getting a rise out of their victim from a vantage of secrecy... kick 'em while they are down... ooh, you're a mean one, Mr. Grinch ..

This particular creature is mildly interesting, as it seems this specimen has taken it upon him/herself to serve as the world's authority on "music writing." Like most of these emails, the grammar, spelling, and logic is extremely poor, and the sarcastic aggressor is quite afraid of revealing his/her/its own identity. In fact, our no doubt singular coward is masquerading as a group. If it is a group, this will be a first... and perhaps more interesting... as you can see below, I am apparently the "third worst music writer in the 'English' language." (What is meant here, I wonder, by 'English'? Is there another category, simply, for English? Does this mean that there is another English, an 'English,' to which I have been promoted or demoted?) Personally, I'd really like to know who ranks first and second. Perhaps .. Kodwo Eshun? Darren Bergstein? David Tudor? Marc S. Tucker? Z'Ev? Andrew McKenzie? DJ Spooky? Philip Sherburne? [If only I were ranked among such illuminatti. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that I shall ever know.]

Do I find these emails funny, you might ask--can't I take the joke? No, not really; there's not much fun or humour in hate-mail. Now, an email of cunning wit.. a Jonathan Swift out there to knock down the egos of the published.. sure: that I would admire, respect. Because Swift published the critique. Or, a Pythoneseque hyperbole .. or an honest and direct critique. But hate-speech is just that: negationary, silencing, gagging, censor-filled violence that, if it comes into actual power, invokes regimes of oppression. As Hunter S. Thompson notes, in all totalitarian societies, it's usually the case that the dissident intellectuals are killed first. If we take this hate-speech at its structural limit, the way in which it operates, we should invoke the pantheon of those who have been killed for voicing themselves to the world: Malcolm X & Martin Luther King... Ken Saro-Wiwa... let us not forget the death order on Salman Rushdie, or the exile of Genesis P-Orridge. The academic in me also says: let us not forget Galileo, the Marquis de Sade, Socrates, Artaud... or the suicidal flight of Walter Benjamin.

Alright: back to Earth, we are just talking, in this instance, of a 'music writer'--not of a Ghandi. But part of the issue is thus: my work is intricately bound with politics, all of my writing, whether on music or other apparent topics. Thus a negationary, hate-filled response to this 'music writing' is also a political response, and must be treated as such.

(Tangent--about a year ago on microsound.org, a particularily abusive list member wrote something similar to what I have pasted below. I invited the listee to please, come say it to me in person, I'd be happy to hear it from your lips-- and named a date & time at Mutek. Like all bouts of cowardly fury reliant upon secrecy, my heir apparent critic never presented itself. Too bad, for this would have been a moment of true immediatism. But the abusive bully is always hiding, always distant, to avoid his own all too self-consuming flames.)

Anyways, our Furious Avenger is apparently an "A.L. Muse." Here's its email address, in case you'd like to drop a message, in approval or disapproval:

"A.L. Muse" : stopbadmusicwriting@yahoo.com

And here is our message of Truth:

Subject: your music writing.....

is a cross between pretentious graduate school
dribble and pseudo-hipster muck. who can make it
through even the briefest of your pieces? let's face
it, they suck.

the committee to stop bad music writing has ranked you
as the 3rd worst music writer in the "English"


how much will it cost to make you stop?
name a price, US or Canadian.
the committee to stop bad music writing will
consider it seriously, and even, if necessary,
host a fund-raiser if it will retire you forever.

Well, personally, I figure if they could actually dish out some serious cash--I mean a cool 500 million--I'd stop writing about music and just concentrate on what I truly love: writing, in general, words, crafting sound, in all forms, be it words or recordings, improvisation or performance. Music journalism is an intervention for me, a way to bring other topics into a popular discourse. Throughout many of my pieces for Electronicmusicreview.com and Stylusmagazine.com, I made it quite clear: I am not a music journalist. If a 'music writer' is a 'music journalist,' then perhaps I am disqualified from this honour; for I don't see myself as one, and I wouldn't wish to be judged by the criteria that 'music journalism' arranges for itself (snobbery, snide remarks, in-jokes, extensive catalogue history, encyclopedic obscurity, judgmental attitude, etc.). The best 'music journalists' aren't--Simon Reynolds and Kodwo Eshun included. That my own writing turns to music, or becomes-music, or rhythmic... perhaps this is a kind of 'music writing.' And that this is something that will require that much more than a soul filled with hate & bitterness... that's OK: I'd much rather be an academic, pseudo-hipster, somewhat romantic, naive, and poetic, somewhat dense, somewhat impenetrable--something to mull over, respond to, or think of--than an abusive, hate-filled--and this is where all marks of this discourse must be taken with some seriousness at the level of its structural politics--fascist.

Ah, the world without channelled violence, without a necessity for hate, for putting down the other, for racism, oppression, objectification... Imagine: the world just might be a.. more wild place.. beautiful... with a living investment in the poetics of... love: of loving life.

So what would our A.L. Muse say about all this? Does it sound like pseudo-hipster to you? Or pseudo-hippie? Certainly academic .. sucked from the ass of the institution .. & fucking long-winded: but I didn't force you--whoever "you" are--to read it anyway. Who knows why you're here. Perhaps it has something to do with the truly impenetrable: the secret curiousities of life that drive you to seek out the other, to touch with symbols the body of a distant unknown...

Humans are banal, really, our consciousness a rambling interlude between birth and death--life is too short to burn consumed by hatred. And wherever I will encounter such hatred--I am necessitated, by a responsibility, to name it: A.L. Muse, you are no Muse, but a coward.

posted. Thu - October 16, 2003 @ 11:49 PM           |