Constellations at work:
my interest in the end of the American Century
my absurd two New York-centric magazine subscriptions
has led me to
“The Dystopians: Bad times are boom times for some” by Ben McGrath in this week’s New Yorker Magazine. The article profiles Dmitry Orlav (blog), author of “Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects” (2008).
Orlav writes about Peak Oil…
…(an obsession for studio neighbor Eric Hongisto)…
…survival strategies, which is strong in the post-Katrina, pre-major recession air. By way of spousal osmosis, I’ve been watching instructional videos by survival experts like Bear Grylls, Les Stroud, Ray Mears, even southern bro NuttinFancy on YouTube. These guys have either military or camping backgrounds (something about manhood and father-son relationships, in addition to the man-nature relationship), yet for all their straightness I feel like there’s great potential for bridging political divides between these guys and progressive, ecologically-minded hippies. After a major economic collapse, people will need skills from both these domains: building a fire, waterproofing a shelter, starting a garden, consensus-building… I get why urban lefties love Octavia Butler, and I’m starting to see how they might eventually stock a cellar in Montana with rifles and MREs.
In complete contrast to such grim realism, there’s optimism-the-cultural-trend becoming optimism-the-marketing-trend. See New York Magazine’s “You Gotta Give them Hope,” the recent profile of the singer Antony Hegarty, who cites his tenets as “heavy sincere-ism, and aggro-sincerity, and non-cynicism.”
The accompanying photo is all big brown eyes, scraggly bangs and a single, decaying-but-vibrant shape like a butterfly wing. A reduced color spectrum pushes the photos’ blacks into purples, lending a psychedelic feel. It seems completely in line with the utopic nostalgia in contemporary art (which Jerry Saltz scathingly critiqued, in NY Mag too), which seems poised to infect the mainstream. (Inevitable. Like how Kanye West’ Heartless video is Superflat, like Kota Ezawa‘s work.)
I’m still trying to wrap my head around Pepsi’s naked co-option of Obama’s “day break” campaign logo, and even the typeface choices: with Gill Sans, Pepsi gets a similar look to the Obamaian Gotham by Hoefler & Frere-Jones. (Too bad Gotham’s gone mainstream, like Shepard Fairey’s schtick, and subjected to ubiquity and poor usages like shitty condo ads.) I find it distasteful that Pepsi is adopting the informal, corporations-are-your-friend voice, like IKEA’s upbeat cheer and Wamu’s “Woo hoo!” campaign. Ugh– shivers. Corporations are not our friends. Hello? Where’s Kurt Cobain when we need him?