Radio Quarantine: Retro Futuristic Synthwave MIX | ANOTHER WORLD – Vol.1 (April 1, 2021 YouTube Mix)

There are absolutely recurring themes here in this space, so maybe it’s time to stage the key ideas or concerns that occupy my thoughts most of the time. I’ve been partial to the terms hauntology or hauntological, referring back to Derrida and/or Mark Fisher, when presenting various styles or aesthetics in music, art or architecture. That is more about the sense of loss or alienation or melancholy that these styles evoke though. A word that may more aptly describe these styles is retro-futurism, so just to be clear here, and please forgive that this is from Wikipedia, making this a cut and paste of a cut and paste:

HAUNTOLOGY: Hauntology (a portmanteau of haunting and ontology[1]) is a range of ideas referring to the return or persistence of elements from the social or cultural past, as in the manner of a ghost. It is a neologism first introduced by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in his 1993 book Specters of Marx. It has since been invoked in fields such as visual arts, philosophy, electronic music, anthropology, politics, fiction and literary criticism.[2]

Derrida initially used the term to refer to his idea of the atemporal nature of Marxism and its tendency to “haunt Western society from beyond the grave.”[3] It describes a situation of temporal and ontological disjunction in which presence, especially socially and culturally, is replaced by a deferred non-origin.[2] The concept is derived from his deconstructive method, in which any attempt to locate the origin of identity or history must inevitably find itself dependent on an always-already existing set of linguistic conditions.[4] Despite being the central focus of Spectres of Marx, the word hauntology appears only three times in the book, and there is little consistency in how other writers define the term.[5]

In the 2000s, the term was applied to musicians by theorists Simon Reynolds and Mark Fisher, who were said to explore ideas related to temporal disjunction, retrofuturismcultural memory, and the persistence of the past.

RETROFUTURISM: Retrofuturism (adjective retrofuturistic or retrofuture) is a movement in the creative arts showing the influence of depictions of the future produced in an earlier era. If futurism is sometimes called a “science” bent on anticipating what will come, retrofuturism is the remembering of that anticipation.[1] Characterized by a blend of old-fashioned “retro styles” with futuristic technology, retrofuturism explores the themes of tension between past and future, and between the alienating and empowering effects of technology. Primarily reflected in artistic creations and modified technologies that realize the imagined artifacts of its parallel reality, retrofuturism can be seen as “an animating perspective on the world”.[2]

I suppose I could have written these out myself, or could have done the work. I could add footnotes to all my posts as well, but given that the links are included, consider that the footnotes and annotation. The information from Wikipedia is accurate, to my understanding of the subjects, and their own annotations seem pretty solid. I’m also not going to get into thoughts on Derrida and Marxism. It’s hard enough for me to grasp and my larger concern in this space is about how the terms inform art and music. The connection is there with the socio-political phenomena, but my focus is on how the alienation manifests through expression, visually and musically alike.

What we imagined 2021 could look like back in the 60s and 70s looks nothing like 2021 actually appears, and furthermore our vision of the future now in 2021 is not how we imagined it in 1979. I’ve mentioned before, the conversation with my son when he said that his generation has no “collective Utopian vision” for the future. The differences between how we envisioned things decades ago are very much tied to that thought. There actually were Utopian visions and the present looks nothing like any of them. Not the Western ideal of Utopia, nor the Soviet/Iron Curtain Utopianism (and they were rather similar, btw). Furthermore, most depictions of the future were irreversibly changed back in 1982 with the release of Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner, and at about the same time, Mad Max. The future became at once, sprawling, dark, dank urban wastes, or post-apocalyptic wastes, so from Utopian to Dystopian in the course of a single generation. Too much had happened to go back. We had gone from flying cars to radiation and plagues, or of course the post-human domination of the word depicted in The Matrix and Terminator franchises. Any way you looked at it the human race was being subsumed and destroyed by science and technology itself run amok, or by human abuse of the power of science and technology. Our vision of the future now is that we are no longer in control and prospects are pretty bleak.

In the meantime, we are presenting all this through art, music and film and that’s where my interest lies. I’m too old to be around to see how all this turns out so that’s all irrelevant. I’m interested to see though if this awareness spreads beyond artistic expression and how that might manifest. Action or apathy? Heroism or nihilism? Fuck this! or What the fuck?

So that’s a brief plot synopsis. That’s where I live. That’s my story.

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