03 May 2012

Thus and sundry

  • For a number of readers, most if not all of this here will prompt nothing more than a sarcastic "Duh." But judging from the comments section (which I really don't advise reading), it provokes a lot of genuine "Duh" with the site's usual readership. All of which only serves to buttress the author's points and purpose. [See also.]
  • Speaking of "hipsters," Pere Lebrun's recent exercise in Whatever-ing deeply amused. If I'm not mistake, the gallery has grown a couple of times since it was originally posted. He also brings this to my attention, which I previously knew nothing about. Apparently it was something Charlie Brooker was involved with about seven years ago. And yeah, looks like certain things weren't specific to these shores, because it all seems too familiar.
  • Alex Niven edits The Oxonian Review and also contributes to both the Guardian and to the same group-effort 'Decades blogs' where I sometimes post. He also recently published a book entitled Folk Opposition via the Zer0 imprint. Zer0 is a UK affair and copies don't circulate too widely throughout my neck of the woods, so I've yet to actually read it. But I've been doing a little research lately on the history and politics of the American folk movement(s) of the mid-twentieth century, Alex's book has had me intrigued and I'll have to hunt down a copy.

    Alex was recently interviewed about his book over at the New Left Project's site. Speaking of the country's recent "Tory moment," he observes:

    "For me, folk culture should mean a working class culture, even if that can be contested and qualified. It’s very difficult to put a label on any demographic at all these days, but there has to be some attempt to do that. To me, it seemed that ‘folk’ might be one heuristic way of doing that, even if it’s not completely satisfactory. My sense was that when Cameron came into power in 2010 this would create the room for the resurgence of an opposition that had been kept in check by New Labour. Cameron coming into power and making some aggressively right-wing moves opened up the space for the revival of an opposition. So ‘folk opposition’ is about seizing the old left and working class culture and seeing what we can do with it, trying to aggregate and synthesise it in some way."

    And in relation to the emergence of recent "nu-folk" popsters in the U.K.:

    "The folk revival that occurred between the 1950s and 1970s suffered from a lot of the accusations that you could throw at nu-folk: it was middle-class or it was just a leisure activity. I don’t think that’s true. It was much more positive, based around a network of folk clubs and was geographically diverse, whereas nu-folk is very London-based. And of course it wasn’t just folk music: all countercultural music – punk, reggae, rave – once relied on these widespread networks and embedded contexts. The problem now is one of cultural space: where do you perform? The high streets, pubs and clubs have been colonised by the global market. It’s difficult now because there aren’t the spaces there were in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. We need a music supporters’ trust perhaps."

    Admittedly, Niven discusses a number of U.K.-specif cultural manifestations (the "nu-folk" thing, Raoul Moat, Football Supporters' Trusts, Blue Labour, etc.) that may be lost on some American readers; but I think many of the larger issues he talks about transcend the context -- particularly those that deal with cultural representation and marginalization, as well as Raymond Williams's idea of the necessity of a "common culture."

1 comment:

David K Wayne said...

We come not to bury hipsters, but to draw a veil over an over-analyzed non-culture...

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