I’m going to throw up a double shot this morning, just because they seem to go together hand in hand, and they’re relatively short anyway. They make sense.
There is a resonant theme in the Sovietwave music, the hauntology vibe, and it rather resonates with everything going on in The United States now. There was a significant part of my life where both the U.S. and the USSR were two empires at odds. The enmity between the two, and to some degree with China but less so, became part of American culture. There was espionage. There was the Cold War that every day threatened to become very real. They existed on the other side of the world as our primary existential threat. The shadow of nuclear war loomed over every single moment of every day. They collapsed under their own weight in the end and while we’re still not on great terms, the conflict has become sort of vaporized and nebulous.
The United States, it could easily be argued, is on the brink of collapse from the weight of its own center. Where Yeats may or may not have been talking about international affairs, these words may have been his prescient warning:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Yet for the same hauntological vibration here, what might it sound like in a mixtape? We to some degree have the same collapse of narrative and collective, Utopian vision of the future that we were promised. Will it be expressed by post punk sounds some forty years from now? Will it be a kind of low-key, lofi trap mix? Arena rock? A little Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA? It remains to be seen but the nostalgia for a past that never truly was and a future that isn’t going to happen is here now. It may look like different things to different people but it’s pretty clear that what we thought might happen probably isn’t going to look anything like we thought it was.
We were promised flying cars and jet packs and robots. What we have right now is this.
Our future is being held hostage by a now nearly archaic set of ideologies that were only ever ideologies and words to begin with. There are very few people in positions of power that have shown any real vision of an America that looks significantly different than how we envisioned it fifty years ago. And most people are still pointing fingers when they should be looking in mirrors. I’ve spent the last several years following the arguments from all sides at every angle and the one thing that is commonly missing is any ability or willingness from anyone to self-reflect and examine exactly what they’re saying. I’m not seeing an awful lot of either sincerity or authenticity. I’m seeing volumes of words. There are words on top of words on top of sentences on top of paragraphs on top of pages on top of books on top of other books and the shelves are collapsing under the weight before anyone has gone back and re-read any of it after they’ve published it to the world. The empty hole at our center will be filled with… what? For now it’s rage. It’s not that the word hope is never used but it often rings hollow. It’s a reverb on the vocal track that creates a kind of decaying effect. The lyrics are lost in the mix because they’re not saying anything that anyone truly believes. Sing them louder and it only sounds more false. It’s the same old party line and rhetoric over and over and over.
You can shout to everyone you know, “Let’s go to Disneyland,” and it doesn’t mean an awful lot if nobody has a means of getting there. The vehicle, in this case, hasn’t been invented yet.
Get my drift?
I do wonder if strange, hauntological mixtapes will be made after we’ve gone through our tribulations. What images of decayed and declined landmarks will accompany the videos? What former monuments will have fallen into neglect and disrepair? They may not be as jarring as the Statue of Liberty lying broken in the sand at the end of Planet of the Apes. It may not be the pyramids or the Sphinx, but there will be reflections of Blake’s Ozymandias, for certain. It’s happening. We can’t continue the way we’re going. It was never sustainable. No empire is sustainable because when it comes down to it, there isn’t a god who cares about nations. History bears that out. There is no anointed country. It’s pretty obvious now, but nobody wants to come out and say it.