Photo
Tomorrow I’m improbably reading in the excavated interior of HiFi with variously impressive people. If things go well I’ll be reading an unfinished piece about small planes. If things go poorly, I don’t know, I’ll read some evocative acre of this Tumblr? Please attend. I’ll be the guy microadjusting his hair.

Tomorrow I’m improbably reading in the excavated interior of HiFi with variously impressive people. If things go well I’ll be reading an unfinished piece about small planes. If things go poorly, I don’t know, I’ll read some evocative acre of this Tumblr? Please attend. I’ll be the guy microadjusting his hair.

Video

Taylor Swift: “Shake It Off” (1989, 2014)

What to say about this that won’t be said over the next week?

1. As a song it pivots on clustering drums and a depthless horn synth which are both curiously inert and give the track the texture of a demo. The horns sound particularly hollow and disembodied, as if issuing sharply from an alarm clock. It’s a beat composed of allegorical blanks.

2. Swift considerably animates it. She weaves like a silvery thread in and out of the indifferent design of the beat to knit vivid subrhythms—for instance, her descending echoes in the chorus (“play play play,” “hate hate hate”). At one point in the video, Swift hopscotches through columns of frozen ballerinas, conveying her movement through the song.

3. The video is incidentally also an overgrown emptiness, against which varieties of dance materialize. Swift is unable to execute these dances with any fitness, so she eventually collapses into her own style, whether of a swiveling ballerina or an increasingly literal modern dancer who pounds the lunar floor in frustration.

4. She also fails to perform the coordinated blooms of cheerleaders, which some suggest is deeply relevant to her earlier single “You Belong with Me.” If it is, it’s Swift’s least sophisticated, most obvious textual mirror. I prefer the genetic coincidences of “I Almost Do” and “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” or “White Horse“‘s nimble inversion of “Love Story.”

5. “Shake It Off” is a video about dance that incorporates images of the slow motion, cellular drifts of twerking women. Of the scenes, Swift told Rolling Stone, “We had twerking, which was so funny. Those girls were trying to teach me how, and it’s just never gonna happen. I tried really hard. They were teaching me what they do, and there’s like a science to it—they’re like digging their heels into the floor without you seeing their legs move, but their butts [are] moving. It’s mind-blowing to me. They were explaining it all to me, and it’s so above my comprehension of how to understand your body.” So these women thread inelegantly into the plot of the video, which is:

6. The body is dissolved and reiterated through dance. Swift tries to simulate each form but fails. She encounters friction when she remembers her body. So she abandons them and dances finally in a kind of condensed and inanimate twist. It’s about respecting traditions but also shedding them when they no longer apply to the work, especially when the work is strange and inelastic and assembled entirely within the narrow dimensions of Max Martin’s keyboard.

Text

The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers. Queer little red bugs came out and moved in slow squadrons around me. Their backs were polished vermilion, with black spots. I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

Willa Cather, My Ántonia

Text

Perfect, renewable cat toys

Nail clippers
Spare change
Unraveled clotheshanger
Bell attached to ribbon
Reed of pasta
Dehydrated snacks I bought them when they were mostly immaterial kittens
A fly
Dismembered plastic bag
Box of macaroni

Audio

Driver Friendly: “Deconstruct You” (Unimagined Bridges, 2014)

I saw this band for the first time last night. Their 2012 album Bury a Dream was one of my favorite records from that year; it’s still sort of astonishing to me that a very tiny Austin band produced a song cycle so dense. The songs sound like individual glowing crypts. The new one, Unimagined Bridges, is just as good, if a little more convalescent and sunlit. Live, they intensified what I found captivating about them on record; there’s an acute energy that circulates between each instrument. Drums, bass, guitar, and horns vividly envelope each other like halos of flame. Both vocalists sing in simultaneous yet digressionary rhythms which will suddenly accelerate and braid together. The guitar tones resemble events of phosphorescence.