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Wednesday, June 11, 2008 


My first essay for PopMatters new feature series Life Savers, on Spinoza's Ethica, went up today.

That was a nice piece Ian. I hope you'll write a few more in that vein; I think it helps to understand the underpinnings of your criticism, as well as rounding out the written portrait of yourself.

Plus, it made me want to try to grapple with Spinoza. Well done.

Thanks! By 'in that vein' I kind of assume you mean philosophy, as my Seconds and On Second Thoughts are pretty rife with that sort of background context (if you've never read my Seconds on "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," and I don't see why you would have, I still feel years later like it's an importance piece of why I write about music the way I do).

And you should absolutely grapple with Spinoza! Just let me babble at you for half an hour about what he means by "substance" and you'll be good to go.

I think what I'm trying to get from you is the "Role of the Critic" manifesto I believe you are revealing in little peeks. Your philosophy immersion of the past several years gives you a viewpoint different from the standard English Lit tropes; the accumulated OSTs and Seconds (as well as some of your blog posts) are a start - now that I've read the Wilco piece I agree it is a cornerstone - but I want you to engage directly with the subject.

I also would love to see more philosophy; my introduction to the field was so negative that I've only that, an introduction. Anytime you want to start the "substance" babble I'm game!

We need to revive the epic emails.

So I'm assuming your introduction to the field was a bad intro course? That sucks, and I'm sorry you went through that, actually. It's really not that hard to do right!

Every so often I make to do lists, and the last five or six times I've done so one of the entries (made more large and underlined each time) is "respond to emails." I've got three or four correspondants including yourself that I need to get back to... but each time that winds up being just a bit more postponable than everything else on the list. So yes, we should revive it, and I will do so, and soon! But first I have to finish this article...

As for the role of the critic manifesto, two things are holding me back, one minor and one major. In a minor way, I haven't done it yet because I'm not 100% sure what I'd say. I certainly can write these things that sort of shade in around the edges, but putting it all together as a coherent picture - that hasn't happened in my head yet.

But that's part of the fun and the challenge of doing that sort of thing, and it kind of leads into the major reason why I don't think you'll see it, sadly, any time in the immediate future is that putting it all together would require an immense amount of work, and a properly put together manifesto is not a blog post-long entity. It's not even a Stylus/PopMatters essay-length thing. We're really looking at a dissertation or small book project, which is something I find interesting, but am not sure what discipline you'd go into to do that for. Something to think on, in any case.

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About me

Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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