Tuesday, February 23, 2010

And the magic starts...Now.

Owl City’s “Fireflies” is utterly banal. Not a good song.
Cause I get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightning bugs
First, I must question – is that a thousand per firefly, as in one million hugs total – or are 9,000 of them holding out? Either way it is creepy. Second, I must question – really? Really?

Anyway. I still get excited when I see it come on MTV UK at the gym and I think I know precisely why – the whole video is the kid playing on the synthesizer in his room while retro ‘80s toys (including the daemonic Speak&Spell of Dane Cook fame) dance around the room. At one point the kid turns on the ‘magic’ synthesizer button.

That’s cool.

Probably one of the reasons I think so is because of the He-Man movie, where the high music salesman thinks that The Key (a device that opens wormholes) is “one of those new Japanese synthesizers.”

But more so – and sorry for playing the theory card, here – it relates to what Yurchak talks about in Everything was Forever… when he describes a “bare” semiotic value in [Imaginary] Western products. What he means is that Soviet youth listened to Western rock&roll, and didn’t know what the Beatles, etc. were saying, and didn’t care to know the translation - the songs’ exotic value was enhanced by their unknowability.

I don’t think the idea of “bareness” has to be limited to that community, to that specific phenomenon. I like the "Fireflies" music video because of where my imaginatino takes the pressing of the "magic" button. The universality of a literary masterpiece is because it is infused with bareness, no matter how rich it is, like the empty space within the electron cloud. Readers hold ambiguities in their minds: even while cognitively recognizing what the author is saying, they add connotations and draw parallels, use allusions - "make it their own." In the process of reading, they transform both themselves and the object. (Thanks, Foucault.)

A riddle - what piece of literature can only ever be read one way?
False answer - An instruction manual.
True answer - None.

Just think about how hard it is to put together a child's toy at 2 am on Christmas morning, swearing at the badly-translated text. Next time, depart from the text (thanks, Goodnight Opus). And make sure you've plenty of extra screws on hand.

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