29 April 2005

September Songs and the Glory of the Grotesque.

saw September Songs tonight with my dear mum, and it was quite exciting to me that she loved it as she did. she is an Utter Addict of Good music (classical, predominantly) and this strange little doc was more a series of cabaret-style ad-hoc music videos with the likes of PJ Harvey, Mary Margaret O'Hara, William S. Burroughs, and other diverse and edgy musicians, who modernized bits of his music in a frequently unorthodox fashion, (in a Huge old warehouse in Toronto actually, at lansdowne and dupont back in 1994, now demolished, of course).

thoughtful as a whip, she pointed out that this love of the grotesque,cabaret, burlesque, was a stark overcompensation for the despair and ruin that Germany found itself in after the war. an almost therapeutic swing of the proverbial scales.
i had never considered this, evident though it may be; that there is nothing left to do in the wake of such intense violence, poverty and destruction, but overemphasize the ridiculousness of it all, to live the life of excess; with debauchery, drugs, alcohol, anything to counterbalance the effects of the cultural evisceration.
and then the 50's came along and the scales swung back...abolition, reassessment, restrictions, re-structure.
and then the 60's...questioning those constraints again, flying in the face of them...and so on and so on.

well, whatever to the debauchery and the drugs. that's adolescence to me. these genres, however, are aesthetically captivating. The key to them is a different kind of Largesse, one that doesn't involve self-immolation. the drag, the costumes, the makeup, the exaggerated gestures...perhaps the only ways left to Effect people (who want to Live, that is).
could it be that this is Why this stuff is making its way back into the public eye (or so i would hope?) not, you understand, as a counterbalance to war and ugliness, (not directly, anyhow), but because there is such a Glut (of everything), that the only stimulation one can hope to get is through profound Exaggeration?

there is also, if i may be so bold, a constituent satire to much cabaret (which is, incidentally, the french word for coffee-tray, which lends further credence to my philosophy that coffee houses are the gardens of all cultural genius), grotesque, burlesque...all of which indicate to me a love of Folly which i must confess i share Whole-heartedly.

looking up related topics for kicks, i took a moment to consult my OED on the subject of burlesque, and was (as usual) somewhat surprised: definition of Burlesque: (OED,1980; i know, it's old.) imitating derisively; bombastic, mock-serious, caricaturing or parodying (esp. literary or dramatic work)
far cry (and somewhat richer) from how we define it these days...at least in this city.
and yet, not really that off-base, in some context.

incidentally, i have just found my new favourite website Ever in the Universe. jahsonic.com . be still my blogging heart.

2 comments:

Christine Estima said...

dude i just woke up from a terrible dream. you poured 3 cans of paint on my head in front of a gymnasium of grade 9s. what the fuck, man? what the hell is wrong with you? and where did you get 3 cans of unsealed paint from? fricken artists.

steflenk said...

HILARIOUS.
so that was you at the gymnasium. i couldn't see you beneath all the paint! :]