Why It’s Pretentious: I know I promised something depressing and literary, and this is only depressing because it’s about Twilight, but look, I am very busy and very important, obviously, and this is all I had time to post. If anything, this mix is pretentious because it’s from before Twilight got popular and because I felt the need to use forward slashes and only lowercase letters in the title. And now I just feel like going into hiding.
Why It’s Pretentious: To say that The Little Prince is my favorite book is the highest order of understatements. It’s like me saying “I listen to music sometimes” or “I drop inappropriately-timed pick-up lines every once in a while” or “I’m kind of a dweeb.” I own 10 copies, four of which are in French and all of which are different publications. Every time I go into a used bookstore, I start getting antsy until I check whether or not they have The Little Prince and if they do, I get even more antsy until I cave and buy it. Once, I was stuck in McKay, Nashville’s used-media megastore that’s conveniently found underneath the X on your treasure map, for an hour and a half because they had three copies of The Little Prince and I could only afford one. My greatest regret is giving away my childhood copy (torn up— colored on— falling apart, hardly even a book) to a friend with whom I no longer speak and therefore is never going to give it back.
I’ve never been good at explaining why The Little Prince is my favorite book. It means too much to me and so, words can’t do it justice. (That may explain why there’s a great deal of instrumentals and sparse piano/electro pop songs on this mix.) If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s a quick and quiet read, but a powerful one. It’s charming in the way that French translations often are and heartbreakingly, utterly sincere in only the way that life-changing books are. If you need a copy, I’ve many to spare. As long as you give it back.
Hannah, like so many women walking the line between the coddling of girlhood and the realities of adulthood, doesn’t hoot or cackle or tell it like it is. Most young women, even if they’re assertive and determined, still find themselves, in those forlorn in-between years, apologizing for themselves, blurting some muddled, half-finished thought and, finally, resolving to take up less space.
What’s changed is what we expect of an individual performer, comparable to the culture’s reduced interest in singular stories. Our hyperlinked lives, dominated by the need to constantly respond to new information through social media, mobile technology and ubiquitous advertising, branding, news feeds and other media onslaughts, work against the old-fashioned absorbing experience of the blockbuster. Some will find this a relief. Others will mourn its loss. It’s hard to sit in a theater for three-plus hours now and not check your text messages. (iPhone screens flashed all around me when I went to see Titanic.) And it can feel wrong, somehow, to give in to one strong voice determined to wipe away all others, even for only a few minutes.
The red herring of the White Stripesish single Sixteen Saltines aside, Blunderbuss is a 45-minute double-take, one long “hang on a minute”. But then so, you could argue, is Jack White’s career. “People around me … want me the same,” he laments on On and On and On, which seems wide of the mark. If people mourned the White Stripes’ passing, it might have less to do with a passion for the familiar than a sense that the strange, contradictory, unfathomable figure White cut as half of that duo was more interesting than the straightforward powerpop or 70s blues-rock musician he appears to be in the Raconteurs or the Dead Weather.
What drives the cycle isn’t, in the first instance, the people watching and listening; it’s the producers who help create and nurture the preferred past and then push their work on the audience. Though pop culture is most often performed by the young, the directors and programmers and gatekeepers—the suits who control and create its conditions, who make the calls and choose the players—are, and always have been, largely forty-somethings, and the four-decade interval brings us to a period just before the forty-something was born. Forty years past is the potently fascinating time just as we arrived, when our parents were youthful and in love, the Edenic period preceding the fallen state recorded in our actual memories.