oscarwildebeest | Indy Week

oscarwildebeest 
Member since Aug 15, 2010


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Re: “The Arcade Fire's ascension, and their cold stare back down

I don't go to art in general or pop music in particular for ideological clarity. One of the cool things about writing music for a living, which I don't, as opposed to writing philosophical arguments about politics for a living, which I do, is that you're alloted space for contradiction. You're tasked with expressing the shape and tone of a problem without the pretense of an elegant solution. Suburbs would be quite a lot worse if it settled on a thesis about suburbia, argued for it systematically, chose to embrace or to excoriate but never both. That would be dishonest art, evading ambiguity and indulging in the type of un-nuanced sloganeering of which the band is nonetheless accused in this article. I think it's uncharitable and unrealistic to expect that a band who uses technology to create and distribute their art can't express longing for some of the aspects of life that are covered over by those same developments (never mind that a call to temporarily set down a particular piece of technology and attune to a more primitive sense of connectedness is nothing like a Luddite rallying cry). But I think this a shortcoming of the reviewer, whose own understanding of art's social and political dimensions is handicapped by his own juvenile political sensibilities. The Arcade Fire mourn for vanishing spaces for unpredictability and wildness, both human and nonhuman, which really has nothing to do with "the green movement." "City With No Children," is mostly a song about isolation and aging out of idealism, but here it's called a boring complaint on the ills of capitalism. But that's not the band's lexicon, that's the vocabulary of someone attuned to a specific kind of leftist-activist politics, who, unsurprisingly, wants to cry hypocrisy and contradiction wherever ambiguity is honestly entertained. For those who prize their own sense of ideological purity over honest confrontation with the emotional and existential dimensions of their social existence, I guess that's good grounds for dismissal, but I think the band is up to something a whole lot smarter and more sophisticated.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by oscarwildebeest on 08/15/2010 at 4:09 PM

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