Intentionally Baiting You

Jason A. said...

Firstly, I cannot think of anything that exists on Earth that's like A.W.K. In my opinion, it's completely one of a kind, because of the entire feeling, and that goes beyond the music and also includes the music. I think of it as the experience of seeing this thing happen. But that's the biggest point, is anything even really happening here? You're talking about it as though there's all this subversive output, but all we've had since THE WOLF and YOUR FRIEND has been the WHO KNOWS? DVD, and anyone can read into that any way they want, but the fact is, it's a live show video, and reading into it any more than that is as absurd as the people who say that Andrew doesn't exist.

What I think we're talking about here is a person who's getting us to think about what he's doing. It's clearly working. But the reason we think about what he's doing is because it makes us think about what we're doing. It makes us think about ourselves, whether we realize it or not. It's impossible to deny. It's just part of being human. We all think about people all the time, but there's something different when some people think of Andrew and his music, and clearly it has different results in different people.

What I mean is simple: I'm a fan of lots of different music. I discovered Andrew WK when my friend demanded that I listen to the song "Never Let Down". It was one the most overpowering musical experiences I ever had. It started with the sound of it, which I can still only describe as strange and wonderful. But then I started to think about what else the music reminded me of, and while I could find lots of easy comparisons, none of them really described the whole experience. It became clearer that I didn't need to try and figure it out, or decode the sensation of listening to the music. I started to listen to other music that way and I started enjoying it more. I stopped trying to label and indentify all the music and songs and listen to the spirit of the music. I stopped trying to peg the people making the music into some sort of style or influence. I also started doing this in other parts of life. I stopped being so quick to feel like I knew what something was - that smug feeling that makes us secure when we're taking aback or confronted with something. I even noticed that I did this with things I "liked", not just with things I said I "don't like". Andrew's music taught me all these things. But I taught it to myself too. I realized that it was foolish to think that I needed to read into things and "figure them out" as long as it was something that made me feel good and made me use my imagination. Andrew's music did that for me. I let go of that need to feel right and smart and just focused more on making everything sound and feel new and exciting. I wanted to hear the same song in a million different ways, and think about all the different things it makes me feel - even things that seem completely unrelated.

It sounds like some people are trying to read into Andrew WK and figure him out beyond some level that he's just a human person.

What on earth makes you think that your completely subjective interpretation of what Andrew is doing is nothing more than your own reaction to your own isolated expectations and beliefs about what Andrew is doing or should be doing? And how can you be so confident that your current world view of music and performance is so complete that you can even have the tools to identify any of Andrew's maneuvers (even if there are any)?

At the very least, you could admit that your view is a paranoid one. Thinking that Andrew is even doing anything at all, other than making music and performing it, is to take for granted large amounts of information you could never possibly hope to begin to know.

But even if you don't agree with that, I beg of you to at least consider that your opinions could be the result of completely arbitrary beliefs based on your accumulated "experience" (or "knowledge") of music and rock music history. I find your take on Andrew to be quite cynical; a tired and unimaginative "summing-up" of a situation which appears to put you in a state of dis-ease. To say that it isn't original or bold is missing the point. The point is that you're thinking about it and thinking that you're right. That's all A.W.K. needs to keep going.

Don't you think it's possible that if you so easily think you're one step ahead of Andrew, how do you know that he's not one step ahead of you, anticipating every thought and reaction you might have, and intentionally baiting you to develop the obvious opinion you presently have? Andrew hasn't done anything in particular to confirm or deny that something is going on, nor has he answered any questions one way or another. Using the simplest and most logical explanation, that means that nothing is going on, but your own reaction to the question of whether something is or not, automatically generates a something to go on about.

You seem to think you're pretty clever and smart for having "figured Andrew all out" with your theory of him trying to convince everyone that there's "something going on". But remember your own question was full of what if's, and that's not usually a very healthy way to think.

Don't you see that it's you who's doing this and not Andrew or anyone else? And how can you assume that Andrew isn't doing exactly what he's doing so that you'll examine your own ideas about what he is or is not doing, or what he should or shouldn't do.

Perhaps his contradictions end up contradicting themselves, until the very idea of contradiction must be contradicted and essentially elmininated. How far up the level is your dialectic?

I think Andrew's being up front, instead of pretending or avoiding these feelings. But it's only you who feels exactly the way you do.

Jason A.

11:41 PM

L.M. said...

I agree with you for the most part, and in particular with what you say about the ways in which the music may liberate listeners from a need to understand, qualify and quantify their likes and dislikes. Certainly I have been guilty, and continue to be guilty of making judgements of myself and others based on what kind of culture they choose to imbibe. Yet I do believe that like yourself the music has worked to open me up to the world. At the time I first discovered it, I had painted myself into a corner, and locked myself in a concrete box made of my own prejudices. Since discovering it, I have endeavoured to scale as many of these self built walls as I can. But it is not easy. And no doubt I fail more often than I succeeed.

What I take issue with is you assumption that my work here is an attempt to create some meta-narrative to explain Andrew W.K., the music, or the "Who Knows?" DVD. At the end of my first post I have clearly stated that the film is highly polysemic, and that my reading is by no means a definitive one. What I am attempting to do here is open up a dialog on the subject of the video and the events leading up to its release, and if in my eagerness to do so I have put my case too forcefully, then you will have to excuse me. However, nowhere have I stated thatI believe my reading to be objective, or that it is of any more value than yours, or anyone else's. And the confidence I show in my assertions is based not on the knowledge that I am 'pretty clever,' but rather upon a close reading of the text in question (the "Who Knows?" DVD.) Nowhere in your response have you refuted any of the specific claims I have made regarding the aesthetic strategies of the film, or offered a convincing contradictory reading of them. Until you are willing to cite specific evidence from the film to support your claims I cannot believe that you are serious in wanting to engage in a discussion of it.

It also seems to me that for someone concerned about preconcieved notions and prejudices, you have brought a fair share of your own to the table here. I have not even posited Andrew W.K. as responsible for making the film (he is not, it was directed by Manrike and produced by Steev Mike), let alone suggested that I have figured him out, or am one-step ahead of him. I would also question why you would choose to label my take on Andrew or the video as "cynical." This one is really perplexing to me. Where do I suggest that I feel there is anything negative about my reading of the film and it's possible implications for the future? Rather my reading is a celebration of the film's radically progressive de-construction of image culture and spectacle. And regardless of whether or not the text supports my reading, why would you assume such a reading as inherently "cynical", "tired" or "unimaginative"?

One other thing I will agree with you on is that I most certainly do see that "it's [me] who's doing this, and not Andrew or anyone else." Nowhere is that more clear than in the letter from "Dad" which accompanies the DVD. I suggest you take a more serious look at that text, and consider exactly what it is saying about the way in which audience expectations have shaped this thing we both love. I think "Dad" makes it clear that it is you and I that bring the meaning to this, and that we have dictated it's course as much, if not much more than Andrew W.K.


Anonymous Scott said...

Brilliant. Jason A gurgitates a whole tome about how he doesn't really want people discussing Andrew W.K. at length.

But I guess if one believes that all that has happened between The Wolf and the Who Knows DVD was YFAWK(!), they're bound to be a little removed from reality.

9:16 AM  

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