SOMETHING IN THE AIR
[written Wednesday, 6/25, in flight to San Francisco]
My plane reading has been the light critical study by Susan Sontag called Styles of Radical Will. Brainless stuff that you can pick up in any airport magazine shop.
The first essay talks about art and its purpose as an expression of what she calls “silence.” Essentially, the continual quest of the artist to break down what has come before and distill it, to make it ever simpler and get back to essence of things—and even moreso, to express the inexpressible, to relate the pure experience of the human spirit. In its relation to language, it is saying what can’t be said, removing context and depth from words so that they are nearly objects—another molecular structure that is unknowable, like the atom. It made me wonder, though, when she wrote of practical applications and uses of this sort of thing, what she’d make of modern changes to language (she wrote this piece in the late ’60s). What would Susan Sontag make of hiphop, with its dense lexicon of slang? Or what about online and text messaging, where words step beyond letters, getting even closer to being simply symbols relating sound.
Current Soundtrack: Bubba Sparxx, Deliverance