Digest: November 2022

Memphis, South Wales

Emma Garland, Fun Factory

‘When he was alive he was attached to his carefully curated image like Peter Pan stitched to his own shadow, and he leaves in his wake a connection between fan and idol that was never consummated. He remains an image and an image alone, and upon that image you can project what you want. Faith in the possibility of touching greatness, fantasies of the function room as a theomachy. There’s a reason why one of the largest Elvis festivals in the world takes place in Porthcawl.’

I’m interested here in the ways in which the homogenising effects of globalisation and mass culture at once exploits and commodifies – and indeed (re)produces in itself – social alienation, while also inadvertently providing a means for disparate proletarian cultures to express and realise their commonalities. There are common denominators that, under capitalism, all cultures are reducible to. Yet through this reducibility a common language, an aesthetic, can form and perhaps, even, provide a framework for mass consciousness raising.

It also made me think of the aesthetic Stereophonics adopt for their fourth album, You Gotta Go There to Come Back, which I may return to at some point…


Mark Sinker, London Review of Books

‘[The] easily panicked will recoil at the notion of a mass-participation avant-garde, a scruffy elect cultivating the annoying, the peculiar, the perverse and the cursed. But this all arrives stuck together: bots posting nothing but half-known fine art or quotations from e.e. cummings or sublime pages of musical notation sit beside accounts that post phone-captured pratfalls or animals being arseholes or the barbaric yawp of TikTok crazies. And this is Twitter’s default social real: a relentless unfiltered collective collage, rich in wild layers of subconscious self-reference and confusion, gift-economy curation and the bizarrest acting out.’

‘Who remembers proper binmen?’ The nostalgia memes that help explain Britain today

Dan Hancox, The Guardian

‘Binmenism, as this worldview could be called, is distinct from the common type of nostalgia we are all prone to as we get older – that things were “better in my day”. In fact, the memory lane memes and comment threads make clear that in terms of physical comfort, convenience, domestic labour, work, consumer goods and leisure choice, things used to be worse. But that is not the endpoint of the philosophy. If Binmenism had a motto to stitch on to its itchy old Boy Scout uniform, it would be: things were worse, therefore they were better.’

What are dabloons?: Tiktok’s new imaginary economy explained

Matilda Boseley, The Guardian

‘“I hate that people introduced late-stage capitalism into this beautiful world,” they say. “To be honest, it’s why I joined the revolution.”’

Godspeed, You! Ancient Emperor: a eulogy for the emperor penguin

Richard Seymour, Patreon

‘What is it like to be a penguin on the verge of extinction? To watch with growing disquiet and impotence as the means of life-building are destroyed right in front of you, and the horizons of experience shrink, and the joys of life – from mouthfuls of krill, to sex on the ice, to play in the pelagic shallows – dwindle to the point of death? It is not that penguins are like us. We are like them, more like them than we know. And we know what it feels like to be a penguin on the verge of extinction more than we’d like to admit.’