Friday, 4 May 2007

A Note on "Modern Edith"

I think I made Goddamn clear my position on Flash poetry on the O'Reilly Factor in the Fall – roughly that it's the mean hiss of tripe, and the tripe who hiss it fail to notice far more complicated and interesting aesthetic objects already occupying their rhetorics, precisely because computer games tower waaay above their tripey eye-level? Sophie Robinson's Modern Edith is no exception. But its petty affront is ameliorated in two petty ways:

(a) The parody is blob-on i.e. it is what it parodies plus ooze over the edge. Edith is a carefully-amateurishly-implemented retro-siren wet-dreamt up by corporate-porners (with the irony screen affixed, the boyish suck for tottery gash can be pandered to with normally-taboo ferocity exempted as a kind of bucking-knowing-nodding to How Far We’ve Come; cf. the Lads’ Mag’s “de-sexualising”ly (not REALLY, see?) mocking captions to its glamour shots). Equally importantly (in fact, I think I regard it as the same point), the technologies which underlie Edith are quite similar to those underlying, say, these dolls. The petty affront thus ameliorated: Edith jostles among digital cultural artefacts – timewasters, games – and cuts it or not, without recourse to the habitual excuses invoked by poetry or even art. I’ve gone too far.

(b) After only six and a half hours of dressing and undressing Edith, you begin to think about gender? Teeny advice columnist channelling queer and feminist reworkings of Freud and Lacan. If you think your dad might cut off your penis if you try to sleep with your mum, you should confront him and say how you feel. In particular, ask him what tacit alternatives to objectification are available in Modern Edith’s critique of objectification. Surely not intersubjectification? Men (just as a handy baseline) don’t intersubjectify do they? – systematised mutual bodysnatching is hardly guffawing in a cocksure club. As well as kind, thinking myself into your shoes could be a form of self-regard (“how do I look?”), of cold thriftiness (“in thinking like you, I switch off conceptual resources I could have given you”) and of creepy invasion (“I want to feel you from the inside”). So whither contra-objectification commandoileys? Interactivity, usually just despised as a fetish object substituting for unreified social relations, may be one of Modern Edith ’s answers. “Respect” as it is constituted in hip-hop discourse is also worth a look, and maybe a recuperation as critical rationality; as an English gentleman the closest translation with which I feel any affinity is “fear.” “You people are gonna [fear] me; I bet I make you [fear] me” (Ditzee Rascal). Modern Edith is terrifying.

Coming soon: attacks on every membrane in John Cayley.

2 comments:

6billionghosts said...

is indeed terrifying

made all the moreso by the malfunction of my flash player which began echoing the singing voice back in a digitized, distorted version layered on top of the original,

my head started to hurt by the 2nd run through

i admire art that makes my head hurt.

Jow Lindsay said...

it makes me sneeze