|. . . Daniel Johnston|
|. . . 1999-11-14|
It's nice to see that Poor Daniel Johnston is still picking up new fans. Besides many hours of singalong pleasure, Johnston has also provided the Hotsy Totsy Club with the title of one of its most popular topics.
So I reckon I'll be supportive and pick up the new album, but it won't be with particularly high hopes. Johnston is a great pop songwriter, but his songwriting peaked in 1983's Hi, How Are You? and Yip/Jump Music, with every track a gem or at least a fruity pebble. 1990 had two or three good tunes; Continued Story had only one; and Jad Fair..., Artistic Vice, and Fun had none at all.
Kind of a Brian Wilson career arc, except that Johnston never made any money and he likes to draw cartoons.
|. . . 2000-07-02|
Special Anniversary Narcissism Week! (cont.): Secret Origins of the Hotsy Totsy Club
|In an email interview for The Industry Standard (which I never saw, since it wasn't put on their website), Mark Frauenfelder asked, "Why do you keep a weblog?"
Like most of the writers I know, I want to be rewarded for being self-indulgent. This is the latest attempt.
|Email to Fred Pyen:
All of which semi-coordinates with a decade's worth of wondering what this thing I'm doing is all about and wanting an excuse to drag more of those thoughts into print ("and out of my mind," as Daniel Johnston says). The Hotsy Totsy Club being just another attempt at doing "this thing I'm doing" more directly, after having published criticism and feeling sickish and having published fiction and feeling sickish.
From the Generosity discussion group:
I specifically started the Hotsy Totsy Club (complete with dopey name) to escape questions of "responsibility to an audience," "working with the editor," "academic protocol," and so on, having previously run myself several fathoms into the ground on them. Not that I dislike audiences or editors or academics, some of my best friends etc., but for whatever reasons of personal neurosis such considerations were starting to keep my inchoate yearnings permanently inchoate. I like self-indulgence (when it's truly self-indulgence rather than a sleazy attempt at group flattery) and ephemera and overweening pretentiousness, but can't seem to handle long forms at present. In short, I'm trying for a self-indulgent ephemeral overweening pretentious bite-sized unprofessional mess, and, thanks to the web publishing model of low cost and wide distribution, I think I can get away with it for a while longer.
|. . . 2002-10-11|
|Two's Negation, Three's a Cloud|
|or, Three Pints Defy a Plane|
|. . . 2003-06-22|
I like the new Lucinda Williams album. She sounds like Daniel Johnston.
|. . . 2007-02-13|
Theoretically speaking, I agree: Good works count more than good faith. After all, dead men don't speak sincerely — in fact, judging from what mediums tell us, they're terrible liers — and authors, by definition, are dead.
Practically speaking, I agree, too. Anyone who can be amusing or thought-provoking or typo-correcting is jake (or johnemerson) by me.
But. (And this is a very skinny but.) I do (and will continue to) take an active interlocutor's lack of good faith, or an active interlocutor's obvious assumption of bad faith in myself, as freeing me from any ethical obligation to respond to the S.O.B.
First, so long as they're active, they're not dead. Therefore they're not authors. Therefore a critic has nothing to say about them.
Second, a devil's advocate serves no purpose unless we're in a debate club or trial. What I do participate in — conversation or its simulation — only comes to an end when we're willing to shut up and think about things for a while. Someone who arbitrarily chops and shuffles words in pursuit of the sneerable can extend his "Now your turn" game long after my "Seeking mutual understanding" game's played out.
Third, people drastically overestimate their ability to maintain detachment or insincerity. Rationalists are (to quote Lee Marvin rather than myself) really quite... emotional. Most self-pronounced tricksters turn out to be a bellicose drunk under a lampshade droning about alimony. This is the sort of job that should be done whole-assed or not at all.
Fourth, humanity is fallen, and so there's a limit to how good our good works get. Even Heidegger didn't always write perfectly clearly. Past a certain point — as instanced when I have my Valve Face on — trying to block all possibility of misunderstanding or misstatement reduces us to incoherent trivia. (Or: Why I Am Not an Analytic Philosopher, Again.) This doesn't mean you have to listen respectfully to a neo-Nazi; just it's nice not to have to waste time wondering why what the guy is saying happens to make him sound so much like a neo-Nazi. If you're an overbearing bore, I'd certainly appreciate your letting me know that before we strike up a conversation, and I'm sure you appreciate the same from me.
Fifth, didn't I liberate myself from all this "ethical obligation" crap once we decided to devote ourselves to the pure play of signifiers what don't signify? OK, then, my chosen signifiers are "Oh dear, look at the time, I really must be going."
Finally, what do I hear in Daniel Johnston's best songs? Conviction. The kitty's fed and something's at stake. "What say let's make this game interesting?"
By the way, this shouldn't need saying, but you never know, so I better gotta say Joseph Kugelmass, despite not wanting extra credit for it, seems like someone speaking in good faith. As the poet sang, "Keep punching Joe."
Happy Valventine's Day to you too!
Kugelmass wins this hand.
|. . . 2011-01-22|
Yesterday was my fifty-second birthday, my forty-second having occured ten years ago. Today is Daniel Johnston's fiftieth birthday. Tomorrow is Louis Zukofsky's hundred-sixth birthday. What better way to mark these occasions than with the latest melancholy seepage from Anselm Dovetonsils, as scraped by the indefatigable Renfrew Q. Hobblewort?
Don't get me started.
Footnotes from the Modern Russian Reader for Intermediate Classes:
Chapter Three Re-translated From English Because I Could Not Find the Original Text
Misha. Under everyone's feet. Mother, father. Used almost exclusively when addressing one's own parents. In his study. A very common diminutive of book. But there is nothing pretty about him. Interfered with their work. Suppose you take.
You will keep a diary. How could I know? I never thought anything out myself. Was he. Papa had. Let me. Leaned on the back of his chair. Is spelled with. Leave me alone. What else should I write?
Whose. No one's. As poets do. What he could write. What a day! But he is not allowed to go there. A quarter after nine. Clock. Used only in the plural. He was so happy about. Nevertheless. But what shall I do?
About what? He thought of what...Couldn't think of anything else. Ink. Used only in the plural. Was terribly bored. As soon as. He became very cheerful. An exclamation of fatigue or relief. What a sly man! My compliments. Misha felt deeply hurt.
Even more than mamma. He should talk! The one that sings. He became so sad that he was ready to cry. He felt sorry (for). How to treat him. Looked like. Diminutive of feet, legs. But this too. You only have to. Must not brag.
And in rhymes, too. and the like. If you are not interested. Why do you look so sad? She should still. What is wrong with you? Diminutive of cheeks. Diminutive of hands. I must not say.
About that. Let her leave me alone. I don't care. At night. I don't care at all. What a child! This must be shown...
You told on me. About everything. Popular for come. Affectionately and familiarly for brother. In his eyes. Diminutive of pillow, cushion. As though from. For no reason. You pay no attention to me.
Let us. Came out silly. Is no good. Oneself. Let's forget.
Holding each other's hand. No matter how it looks. For life. Little face. Affectionate form. Unless so used, the word is vulgar.
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