An introduction

This is a semi-public place to dump text too flimsy to even become a blog post. I wouldn't recommend reading it unless you have a lot of time to waste. You'd be better off at my livejournal. I also have another blog, and write most of the French journal summaries at the Eurozine Review.

Why do I clutter up the internet with this stuff at all? Mainly because I'm trying to get into the habit of displaying as much as possible of what I'm doing in public. Also, Blogger is a decent interface for a notebook

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


It's taken a long while, but I'm now, finally, a convert to the church of gaga. It's all Alejandro's fault, and more particularly in the video. It's another epic 8-minute piece, which means there's plenty of time to develop a good many themes. She's doing what I like best: not making a syllogism with her music, but layering loosely-connected themes so that, if you clap your hands and try to believe, you'll be able to weave your own meaning out of it.

It's somehow very European, but drawn from disparate sources within that; Gaga surely deserves some EU subsidy for semiotic integration. The setting is mystical and unspecific, but in a cold and German fashion. Gaga appears as Dream or an Ice Queen, or maybe as Narnia's White Witch. But this isn't Narnia, with children and a christ-like lion. It's Weimar, a collapsing world where introspectively melodramatic romance must take the place of morality. It's intense and fearful, slightly frigid, physicality replaced by power. Even the male dance troupe are desexualised; after entering with a haka-like swagger, they retreat into stylised weirdness.

So far, we're in a familiar aesthetic, one which runs from Rammstein to Bauhaus through the entire spectrum of goth. The equivocation between sex and violence is likewise familiar, though rebel chic rarely gets as far as a semi-automatic bra. It's the hispanic eurodisco elements that take us away. Our tragic ice queen seems about to start singing 'numa numa ey'. Teutonic tragic Romance meets the Romance culture -- in accent, if not in much else.

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