Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Duran Duran Bassist In Interesting Point Shocker!

The last person on one would expect to say something thoughtful and interesting is a member of the band Duran Duran. I admit to being a fellow of a certain age and having a sneaky appreciation of some of their songs, but really they never struck me as very thoughtful. Then the bassist goes and spoils this impression with a rather interesting speech at UCLA marking the 40th anniversary of the first message sent over the Internet (because the bassist of Duran Duran is obviously the person one turns to in these circumstances).

John articulates a point that's been rolling around in my increasingly grouchy sensorium for a while, the tyranny of plenty. John recalls seeing Roxy Music for the first time and having his tiny Brummie mind blown: John puts it thus: “The power of that single television appearance created such pressure, such magnetism, that I got sucked in and I had to respond as I know now previous generations had responded to Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan show, or The Beatles, or Jimi Hendrix.”

Now comes the interesting bit! He says:

“I believe there's immense power in restriction and holding back. When artists today are asked to Twitter their every thought, their every action, to record on video their every breath, their every performance, I believe they're diluting their creative powers, their creative potency and the durability of their work.”

I wouldn't go so far as saying he's right, but there's been a change in the relationship of creator and audience. Creation used to be such a solitary affair. A band would hack away at an album – or a novellist a novel (and let's face it, that there's where I'm really going with this) – in isolation and then out it would come, at some mysterious time. Fanzines ad the like formed a tight-bandwidth (and resolutely one-way) communications channel, but by and large we fans had to sit on our hands and wait.

I think this gave the whole process a mystery and intrigue that's interesting and important. Further down I talk about Jack Vance and how much pleasure I take in finding his books in second hand shops and what have you. Before the heady days of ebay and amazon sellers this was how one filled out one's collection. I haunted second had book shops for decades, that's how I managed to read everything by PKD, Michael Moorcock and Isaac Asimov back in the good old days.

Nowadays you could get it all tomorrow. John says: “I wonder - if I'd had unlimited access to that first Roxy Music TV appearance, if I'd had unlimited access to knowledge of their personal quirks, if I'd been able to access film footage of every performance, every rehearsal, every interview they gave that year from around the world, then I believe the bubble of my obsession would have burst a long, long time ago and I'd have ceased being a fan a long time ago.”

I'm reading Matthew De Abaitua's The Red Men (which I'll post about in more detail when I'm done with it), which posits a rationing chic culture of demob suits, spam fritters and mend and make do. It's an appealing picture when confronted by the swarming choices that greet us every time we sit down to relax.

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