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 Post subject: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:53 am 
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I've been overdosing on Paglia &, for me, it has shed light on why I am not moved by her latest stuff.

Simply put, she's lost contact with her dark side. The wellspring of her art. She has rejected involvement in that raw, dangerous, instinctive, completely solipsistic way that she started with. She has tried to turn herself into a detached, intellectual observer -with the best of intentions (she could never do anything else) - in order to understand the reasons for the failures of the human race. It has completely hollowed her out.

She's lost her mojo. it may be - I pray not - permanent; it may be a function of age. Passion does not necessarily decay as you get older, but it is rare to do so, & if it does it tends to become an ossified parody of itself.

Perhaps it's expecting too much for her to maintain the power of her early stuff. Perhaps we should be grateful (more than grateful) for what she has achieved. Ars Longa Vita Brevis. All things must pass.


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 3:01 pm 
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HI, I don't think she lost contact with dark side. Her demos stil have this raw energy. And I have to say that I am glad that she's not singin about
emotion from a perspective of a broken heart or sexual desire. That would be boring!


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 5:24 pm 
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I agree with Joy, I think she actually never lost her taste for disturbing subject matter and smart provocation. From body politics to the effects of social politics is a great leap, and I'm quite happy she finally broadened her horizons as a writer, I wouldn't want her to write about the same confessional/self-referential subjects she used to sing about. Maybe you would, but I'm afraid this just isn't going to happen...
And I don't see her last works as completely detached or intellectual, I feel them as very emotionally charged, full of bitterness, resignation, disappointment, hope, pity, empathy. I'm sorry you feel disappointed but to claim she is completely hollowed out just doesn't ring true to me.

The only aspect I agree with is she has outgrown and evolved her "dangerous" side into something else. But that attitude you're referring to I only find it in the first three albums, so I don't get why you think she has lost her raw side now. She's ventured in so many directions since than, one could argue she "lost" it from TBYML onward.

By the way, what has Camilla Paglia written about PJ? I enjoy reading her pieces, could you provide a link?


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 6:33 pm 
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I have never read Paglia, but I do think it's nice and good for you that you have figured out and been able to verbalise what it is that makes you feel unmoved by Polly's recent work.

However, I would have to profoundly disagree. In my way of seeing it, the dark side is as present as ever. The rawness is there, it's just of another kind, another level. As Polly has said herself, all of her earlier work is valid. But I agree that for a 47 year old woman to keep harping on about the things she sang about when she was 22 would be a bit... immature? Unconvincing? Trite? Unimaginative?

The subjects that she is involved now, I think, are just as raw and dangerous, if not much, much more so. Hearing her screaming her head off about cutting off her lovers legs? Her lover telling her to take those dirty pillows away? Yes, disturbing, raw, edgy, amusing... But, rotting flesh of killed soldiers? The advancing death coming for all and everyone? Child beggars? Buildings levelled? My god, the darkness, the desperation, the horror, the utter disbelief at things that we do to each other, everyday. And, in the way she handles those things, the incredible beauty, compassion, warmth, humanity, sincerity. These are all parts of human experience, all over the world, always have been, always will be. How beautiful then to have someone like Polly to reflect, excavate, document and present it to us all. "I turn to you to ask for something we can offer"...

I can't see there is such a clear-cut objective as understanding the failures of the human race, just as her early work wasn't the work of a man-hating, axe-wielding cow from hell. There is, for me, in all her work, simply a wish to connect, to feel, to shape and share. How grateful am I that this wish is ever expanding. There are no answers really, no solutions, but we are all here so let's just look at what we have. (It is in this respect, the ambiguity, the depth of human experience, lack of unnecessary decoration, or anything superfluous, that Polly's work reminds me of another one of my favourites, Alice Munro). I do apologise if I come across like a crazy hippy. It's just that I am so smitten by Polly, in all her shapes and forms, but then aren't we all? Experiencing the live show, seeing her up there with her saxophone, her little feather horns, mini skirt, boots, her voice soaring over octaves, my god if that isn't mojo, I honestly have no idea what is.

As for what's coming, I'm sure it will be something new, exciting, surprising. The poem she debuted a few months ago, Grouse Pen, I think does offer a hint of yet another direction, and touches upon things I don't think she has touched upon before, at least not in this way. I suspect the next poetry collection and the next album might be connected again, but we'll have to just wait and see. A haunted sheep farm and a forest? Perfect. Bless her.


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:17 pm 
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I'm afraid I simply disagree with the above comments. I don't think she's posturing, but I think she's trying for something emotionally detached. I just feel it comes from a different place; not always of course, The Piano was as if she was channeling a nightmare & The Last Living Rose had that primal but complex feel I like. But it's the obsessive, almost demented early stuff that goes deep with me, Rub Til It Bleeds is probably my favourite, but Taut, Rid Of Me, Kick It To The Ground ... it's just not there any more. The subjects she's tackling may be raw, horrific & violent, but her responses don't come from that same deep, dark place as they used to. I don't think they can.

And Camille Paglia hasn't mentioned Polly! Which I find astonishing itself, given that she nails Art, old & new, & its sources so comprehensively. It was just that watching her lectures explained to me what was missing - for me - from Polly's later stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:35 pm 
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Oh Mr B., you are so very eloquent, and in an adopted tongue as well. There is no crazy hippiness in that. You say nearly everything I could want to better than I could. Nearly!

Response to music is fundamentally personal, more, I think, than any other artform. So much depends on what you, as a listener, bring to the experience – where you’ve been, what you’re familiar with, what you want from it and what you feel about the maker of it. And many other considerations besides, I expect. Diogenes, you're absolutely right in saying that the wellspring of what PJH is doing now is fundamentally different from her early work; of course it is. If the new stuff doesn't speak to you in the same way, there's nothing wrong with that reaction. But of course when you love a particular artist, and suddenly their output stops affecting you in the same way, you question yourself and them, even though you know it’s not really their failure or yours. To love something is to want to understand it, and even if you decide you don’t really love an artwork, working out why you don’t is illuminating.

To be personal, I have loved this damn woman for 25 years. It was pretty low-key at first: she was just one among many. Quite soon she was primus* inter pares. And now there are no pares. At each and every turn I thought, She’s lost it, gone off the boil, played out, and then realised how wrong I was, came to terms with every lurch and heave and hairpin bend, and found out she was aiming true. She keeps reaching higher and higher, not always getting it entirely right but always expanding, deepening, and now I trust her to carry on.

None of her early stuff was as personal as everyone wanted to believe it was, with the odd exception like ‘M-Bike’ which seemed to arise from an actual experience (and that expectation keeps resurfacing – it’s there in the recent festschrift from Uncut). The emotion was genuine, but the framework was play-acting. For me, her current work derives half its power from the knowledge that there’s reality behind it, and not her own internal emotional states – that spurious business of ‘authenticity’ – but other people’s. The fact that she’s singing on behalf of those who can’t, I find more moving than I can say.

Again, there is no one else with the same visionary skill of taking raw experience and refining it and undercutting it and making texts speak to texts and times and places to other times and places. She didn’t always have that: it’s grown with her maturity. And that’s moving, too: that this woman started as an angry girl with a dirty sense of humour strumming a guitar in a bedroom in a Dorset village (however fun such a thing may be) and is now – what? a medium? a prophet? a global cultural lodestone? And done it all while remaining so fundamentally humble and reticent and self-questioning. I feel tremendously privileged, graced, to be living at the same time as this is happening.

That growth and development means that even Polly’s old work takes on new significance, and there are echoes forward and backward, and I can’t listen to any of it without thinking, somewhere along the line, of the rest. So, she sings ‘To Bring You My Love’ on the current tour. Like the rest of the album, that song began as preposterous Gothic melodrama (don’t misunderstand me – TBYML still leaves me breathless after more than 20 years, but I never had any misapprehensions about what it was. I like preposterous Gothic melodrama). Now? She sings it, she gestures to us, she says, I’ve exposed myself to awful things, doubted what I thought I believed, to be here, to bring you all this: cursed God above, forsaken heaven, to bring you my love. There are, now, things in that song which never used to be there. (Of course I could be entirely overthinking matters.)

We’ve talked about this before, haven’t we? And doubtless will so again. And, as I say, one’s reaction is entirely personal and (though I’m no relativist most of the time) in this area, completely valid. All we can do is explore what we variously feel.

Diogenes, you haven’t mentioned what part of La Paglia’s thought set your mind working on these lines. Do you want to say any more?

*Oops, prima, I suppose.


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:25 am 
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AineteEkaterini, I think it's Paglia's contention that art springs from very deep & dark parts of the brain - the Id really I suppose - that become mediated by the higher brain centres & transformed into communicable art. She says it often has its source in dreams, & I think Polly has mentioned this herself.
PJ has had a terrific wry & ironic sense of humour (Man Size, M-Bike, 50 ft. Queenie etc.) which she has now lost, alongside the brutal & violent emotions of the songs I mentioned above, but this was alloyed with a fantastic emotional range. The way she drops the last few notes in Kick It To The Ground tell the story of the love that preceded the blazing bitterness & rage against all nature that informs the rest of the song.

The thing is art has to be personal, has to come from within. It's true genesis is a mystery; it's obvious Polly didn't go through all those terrible traumas & life changing dramas personally, but the stories she told were true expressions of stuff going on at her core.

I have absolutely no doubt of her desire to express her feelings about the wider world, that she genuinely wishes to understand & convey her reactions to the injustices & contradictions throughout humanity. I just don't think she's equipped to do it - rock music, or whatever you want to call it, isn't equipped to do it. It doesn't work on the more detached, dispassionate level she's trying to use. If you like she's using her mind & not her guts, & I am no longer moved.


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:32 am 
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I'm in agreement with diogenesagogo. Her older stuff came from a much different inner world and perspective.

Part of her appeal to me is how someone could write something as achingly intense as Lying in the Sun, Teclo, Civil War Correspondent, Catherine or The River. Of course it wasn't literally personal, but her reticence to talk about the song's origins and lyrical content only enhanced the mystery.

Lying in the Sun:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1UvmPFH-iQ

One YT comment sums it up: "Breathtaking dark beauty."

Teclo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8mqk9pIaHo

3:06 gets me every time.

_________________
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9eTwPgl0GU


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:17 pm 
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Hi, for me the problem with new PJ stuff is that is way to romatic :D to much a gothic approach. Like yes things went worng but look what a beautiful catastrophe. a oh we, conumers of art, can unite in this aesthetic experience and...do nothing. how wonderful! I though PJ had a punk soul! :D it's sentimental neohumanism! I would prefer Polly to go posthuman hahaha that we could read her work with Rosi Braidotti not Camille Pagila!Cheers.


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 3:49 pm 
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I could argue that writing songs isn't exactly doing nothing, but then again, I probably am hopelessly romantic/gothic myself, so it seems quite natural to me. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 8:46 pm 
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Diogenesagogo, Dr Dark, I am more in agreement with you than you might think. You’re both very clearly right that PJ’s current output comes from a different place from the early stuff, and looking at it as ‘a shift from the visceral to the cerebral’, from being driven by the gut to the head, is not inaccurate, I think, and in the past I've used exactly those terms – although stating it in such a polarised way exaggerates it. The early work was vocalised dressing-up (Polly said once that she never felt any sense of catharsis or release performing and it’s clear that even the most apparently unhinged moments were in fact absolutely controlled), while on the other hand I think ‘Dollar Dollar’ (a track I really didn’t like initially) is perhaps the first time she’s ever sung about something that happened to her directly, without any distortion, obfuscation, or re-imagining. So it’s not a black-and-white business: but, basically, you’re right. She clearly underwent a huge gear-shift in the mid-2000s and deliberately turned her back on what she’d been and done before, not to reject it (she still performs some of it, of course), but to move to a different place creatively.

When I first heard Hope Six I really found it hard going. The way I eventually characterised the ‘problem’ was a bit different from yours, though similar: I settled on the complaint that Polly had turned away from using her imagination towards reportage. After all, although LES assimilated masses of source material, it still took all that matter and then subjected it to the smelting heat of her imagination, which Hope Six didn’t do. But as I’ve discovered more about the way the album was assembled, even that objection falls: she hasn’t simply reported, she’s amended, developed, and interacted with what she saw and heard. Imagination is present, albeit playing a subordinate role. The music performs an alchemy which turns those specific experiences into something more universal (so, you would assume (well, I did) from its style that ‘Ministry of Social Affairs’ had a Washington setting, when in fact it arises from the Afghanistan visit). All I’m left with – because I still have some issues with Hope Six – is that from time to time she doesn’t achieve what she sets out to, mainly because what she sets out to do is so absurdly ambitious it’s a wonder she manages anything with it. I think there are real dangers for her in working this way, because it’s rowing against the tide of her own genius; but she’s almost certainly aware of that. Virtually the only statement from her in amidst the complete silence of the last two years has been that she found battering poems into songs harder than she thought it would be, and I suspect she won’t try again, at least, not in the same way.

Now, I suspect a lot of our frustration, let’s say, resides not in any aspect of the creative process, as such, but in the voice. Listening to her now you get the impression of someone continually pulling their vocal punches. If I ever had the chance, among the many, many things I’d say to her would be along the lines of ‘Darling, I know you’re all saintly and humble and self-effacing these days and you don’t want to overwhelm the text and all that, but go on, just unleash that steamrollering voice on something again. I know you can. Go on. Make us howl, make us bleed.’ But she won’t, not at the moment, until she decides to sing for herself again, rather than on behalf of others, which is exactly what constrains her. But then you wouldn’t say to James Joyce, ‘You know that thing you did? Ulysses, wasn’t it? That was good. Do something else like that.’

Where I disagree with you (both) is that I feel Ms Paglia is entirely awry in her account of the genesis of ‘genuine’ art. I think the cerebral mode is as valid as the visceral, in that it’s just as capable of communicating truths of worth. Whether we, as consumers, are receptive to them depends on us rather than the artwork. I know that what I feel about Polly’s current work is coloured by who I am: deeply English, historian by training, broadly left-wing, Christian, and born in Dorset. You can see how everything she’s been doing lately speaks to that – quite apart from the sense that I’ve grown along with her this last quarter-century, and I believe profoundly that everything she’s done in the past was a preparation for the colossal moral importance of her current work. If it doesn’t speak to others in the same way – well, it doesn’t have to, and it’s neither their fault nor its. There are parts of the Harveyan oeuvre with which I am less than enamoured and next time she may well produce something I can’t abide! Hard though that is to imagine.

joy wrote:
...unite in this aesthetic experience ... Rosi Braidotti

You have the advantage of me regarding contemporary philosophy and ethics. But if the allegation is that Polly encourages us to dip into the misery of others as a narrowly artistic experience, no, I don’t find that. My own attitudes, feelings and desire to act have been sharpened and broadened by listening to her work.

DrDark wrote:
Lying in the Sun

Ah, there you are, you see. One of my least favourite tracks!


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 11:10 pm 
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AineteEkaterini, thank you for a thoughtful appreciation of where you see Polly at the moment, & how it fits into her development. As I've said, I think she's up a blind alley at the moment & am hoping it may yet metamorphose into something new & wonderful, a new synthesis perhaps.

I think Paglia is entirely correct. The cerebral mode is a way of translating the visceral so it becomes comprehensible. An artist will create because they can't do anything else; Madonna does it for money & fame (Madonna is where I part company with Camille!).
There is no rational or logical reason for creating art. It arises from inner compulsion.
Even something like Bach's passacaglia & fugue in C minor arises (I think) from activity deep within the brain. The centres it deals with are a long way from those stimulated by rock, but I'm convinced music is akin to machine code, going in at a level far deeper than language, reflecting fundamental wave patterns which arose in the composer & drive the listener's (everything is waves ...). Whatever, the drive for any artist stems from internal motives & no amount of wishing to produce it intellectually will work.
Incidentally, intellectuality is no barrier to art; possibly my favourite 20th C author is Iris Murdoch who used her prodigious intelligence as a tool to strip her protagonists right down to the core of their beings.

Can't resist adding what I was listening to while writing this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acnH6M1Ee8k

Not very PJ! But it moves me just as much as her early stuff. Incidentally, did you catch the Bartok in the background of Reeling (on the bus)? I sometimes wonder if absorbing more classical influences into her work might have been fruitful.


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2017 4:27 pm 
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I'm a huge Camille Paglia fan but I disagree with the OP.


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2017 7:23 pm 
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I think it's really hard to say what is visceral and what is celebral in art. Polly herself said that she's working very hard, that she write everyday!It seems that there is less of this "visceral" things that we would like to see in art in general. Maybe "Dary" and "Rid of me" we can call visceral...and after these what we heard was a results of hardworking!


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 Post subject: Re: Camille Paglia & PJ
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:48 am 
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joy wrote:
I think it's really hard to say what is visceral and what is celebral in art. Polly herself said that she's working very hard, that she write everyday!It seems that there is less of this "visceral" things that we would like to see in art in general.


You are so very right about this, joy, and let us not forget that the roles of the listener and the performer are two entirely different things, so that what Polly makes you feel might be completely different from what she was feeling while writing or recording... and she has talked about never feeling cathartic while doing that, so...


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