Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Guardian on Bjork,by way of TaipeiTimes

In order to break the long hiatus of blogging(due to trip to Singapore, bad,bad cold front, diverting books bought in Singapore,etc.), something special is required. What a gift, then, this exclusive onBjork. Fortunately, Bjork is not sticking to singing. She is branching out into politics and feminism. Let's dive right in, shall we?

"A self-confessed 'punk anarchist', she found herself politicized by the Iraq war." Now, there are some people who have staked out an anarchist position after a long period of introspection and study, which, while it strikes me as an incorrect position, is at least intellectually defensible. The thing about anarchism is that is that - like all radical departures from received tradition - it pretty much has to be a well considered position. That is to say, if I am going to be the genius who throws out musical conventions about chord progressions in music, I would do well to be someone like Philip Glass, who has long since mastered those conventions. The chronology involved in being an anarchist, and then becoming politicized, is a bit confusing.

"She would never wear jeans and a t-shirt, she says, because they are "a symbol of white American imperialism, like drinking Coca-cola."
Good, strong position, Bjork! And be sure not to let any American imperialist influences into your music, like blues, jazz, or rock. That's a terribly brave, iconoclastic position to be taking in hip European circles these days. Be sure not to make any compromises!

"Her last album, Medulla, was certainly Bjork's most political - but in a unique way. She came up with an a capella album featuring only human voices: yodelling, beatbox, Icelandic choral music. It was, she says, a way to counter 'stupid American racism and patriotism.'" Now, wait a minute - since Jimmy Rogers, I believe yodelling has been, incongruously, thoroughly appropriated by stupid Texas cowboy culture. Beatbox and Icelandic choral music, as far as I know, continue to be unpatriotic.

"I was saying, 'What about the human soul? What happened before we got involved in problematic things like civilization and religion and nationhood?" Gee, I don't know what happened then; but somehow the question conjures up an image of Australopithicans sitting around a campfire gnawing on mastodon bones...

The article informs us that she is thirty nine, and, uniquely, had several relationships that didn't work out in her twenties. "Then, four years ago, she met the American multimedia artist Matthew Barney. Today they live in an old house across the Hudson from Manhattan, with their baby daughter, Isadora. It seems a marriage of true eccentrics. Barney is a master provocateur (in 2003 he filled New York's Guggenheim with tapioca, petroleum jelly and beeswax) and he has worked as an athlete, model and medic." How eccentric! How provocative! But it would have been more provocative if the Guggenheim had brought charges against him, instead of paying him for the privilege.

On her "politicization" after the Iraq war: "People like me, who don't follow the news that much, suddenly I was looking on-line every day, just to see what was going on." Really? Discovered newspapers, have we? So now we have your new, political album. When can we expect the feminist album? "I think this is the first time in all the hundreds of interviews I've done, that I've actually jumped on the feminist bandwagon. In the past I always wanted to change the subject. But I think now it's time to bring up all these issues. I wish it wasn't, but I'll do it, I'm up for doing the dirty work!" Bravo, Bjork! What an unconventional turn to your career!

"It's interesting to me to bring up a girl. You go to the toy store and the female characters there - Cinderella, the lady in Beauty and the Beast - their major task is to find Prince Charming. And I'm like - wait a minute - it's 2005! We've fought so hard to have a say, and not just live through our partners, and yet you're still seeing two year olds with this message pushed at them that the only important thing is to find this amazing dress so that the guy will want you." Hello? Your child is two years old, and she's been brought up by Bjork and the petroleum jelly man, and you think it's because of social conditioning that she wants the Cinderella doll?

Then there is Michel Gondry's film "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind": " 'Michel did a great work there. He gave Kate Winslet , who's obviously such a huge spirit, such a vivacious lady, so much space. Usually when you see females in movies, they feel like they have these metallic structures around them, they are caged in by metallic energy. But she could be at her full volume without restrictions,' a contrast (the Guardian reporter intones) one senses with Von Trier, who loves brutalizing his actresses." Yes. Indeed. Von Trier's anti-American polemic compromised. Metallic structures around actresses. She was brought up in Reykjavik in a hippie commune by her mother and stepfather, a blues musician. The mother has a little homeopathy business from her home, thanks to her daughter's success, but, as Bjork tells us, "she's almost sixty", so the indictment against males is hardly mitigated.

Man, it's good to be back blogging!