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John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
Lawrence LaRiviere White
Marc Bousquet
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Miriam Burstein
Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
Guest Authors

Laura Carroll
Mark Bauerlein
Miriam Jones

Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Friday, June 24, 2005

An Exceptionally Brief, Yet Important, Addition to a Common Gloss

Posted by Jonathan Goodwin on 06/24/05 at 09:52 PM

I’d be mildly surprised if anyone reading this blog didn’t know the origin of “Steely Dan.”

On the next page, however, you’ll find a more descriptive reference (this is p. 84 of the Grove edition): “She puts on a record, metallic cocaine bebop.”

That’s as good of a description of their music as I’ve ever read. And, as far as google can tell me, I don’t think anyone’s yet pointed it out on the internet.

With Ellington’s “East St. Louis Toodleoo” also making an appearance, you might wonder if their goal was to actualize Burroughs’ fiction by giving it a soundtrack--a clear success in several ways.


Comments

Be mildly surprised, Jonathan.  In fact, if I wasn’t already a habitual reader of this blog, this is exactly the kind of remark that would likely put me off coming back a second time. 

We talk all the time about dismantling the canon but if Stephen Potter-ish “litmanship” is what grows up in its stead, then WE’RE DOOMED!!! to fragmentation and clubbishness.  [/thread hijack]

By on 06/25/05 at 12:50 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Are you saying you’ve never heard of the band Steely Dan or that you didn’t know their name came from Naked Lunch? I’ve come to realize over the years that people generally tend not to like them as much as I do, but I supposed that factoid had a lot of consumer penetration. Burroughs still inspires a cult following, and Steely Dan’s sunny tunes about heroin addiction and murder are constantly played here on commercial radio and in grocery stores. It’s not uncommon for the Burroughs reference to be explained by a DJ killing time. Anyway, I just wrote that because it made me cringe a bit to explain it.

By Jonathan on 06/25/05 at 01:56 AM | Permanent link to this comment

I thought that the additional information was interesting. When I think of cocaine, though, I think more of Reagonomics and crazed free-marketers. Steely Dan doesn’t have that enthusiasm.

By John Emerson on 06/25/05 at 12:56 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I didn’t know their name came from Naked Lunch and I thought you were saying that a person who didn’t know that would be a bit surprisingly ignorant to concern themselves with literary studies.  Pragmatically I daresay that is a fair-enough claim, because there are so many Americans doing literary studies that the rest of us really need to know at least *some* of what you know, otherwise we won’t have anything in common to talk about, and that would be a bit of a sad situation.  Anyway, it’s not important.

By on 06/25/05 at 09:52 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I have many obscure interests, and one of my favorite forms of humor is to pretend that they’re not obscure. I certainly wouldn’t claim this reference is important at all--it’s just something I’ve personally heard repeated many times (along with the fact that Chevy Chase went to school with them, etc.)

Though I could talk about John Reith in epic detail, I wasn’t exactly sure who Stephen Potter was, I should admit.

By Jonathan on 06/26/05 at 02:00 AM | Permanent link to this comment

I was going to mention Cosmas Indicopleustes, but never mind.

By John Emerson on 06/26/05 at 10:27 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Not much consumer penetration outside the US, where admittedly they are not quite so well known. I thought you were having a dig at the age of the bloggers on The Valve, to be perfectly honest - all forty and rising? I thought there were drugs in there with my Pretzel Logic somewhere ( it’s in the vinyl collection, thanks).
I guess they don’t play Velvet Underground tunes in your supermarkets?

By genevieve on 06/26/05 at 11:51 AM | Permanent link to this comment

I don’t know, but if I had to guess, I’d say that most of the Valve bloggers are under forty.

I can’t remember ever hearing a VU song, but I’ve heard “Time out of Mind” and “Dr. Wu” countless times.

By Jonathan on 06/26/05 at 12:39 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Genevieve, “forty and rising"‽ Do you really believe someone over forty, nay, thirty could produce such nonsense?

(Oh, and how wonderful is it that the Valve recognized my interrobang?)

By Scott Eric Kaufman on 06/26/05 at 01:04 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Steely Dan?  Is this what we’ve been reduced to?  Oy vey.  Lite jazz for the ironic generation.

My first exposure to SD was through The Minutemen remake of “Dr. Wu,” featuring D. Boon’s powerful singing and Mike Watt’s ass-slamming bass beatdown.  But the Dan themselves have always struck me as godawful.

I don’t want to start the kind of music argument that Michael Berube often features on his blog, but the very fact that Steely Dan is featured in Giant Eagles and Shoprites and Acmes around the USofA is damning enough.  Not that I particularly want to hear the VU in a supermarket.  “Music for Shopping” (to predict the title of Brian Eno’s next new age album) is there precisely as a kind of mausoleum of dead style, a wax museum of thankfully forgotten, but never fully forgotten, tunes.  The next Arcades Project will deal with the music of supermarkets, or so says Paul Mooney’s Negrodamus.

It’s interesting that Burroughs has generated rock music far less adventurous than his fiction.  Usually even the worst rock music is more adventurous than fiction.  But Soft Machine?  Heavy metal in general?  Steely Dan?

First Laura disses The Shins, and now this?  This?!?!  Next thing I know, someone’s gonna rag on Yo La Tengo, and then I’m gonna havta throw down.

By on 06/26/05 at 02:00 PM | Permanent link to this comment

You should pay closer attention.

By Jonathan on 06/26/05 at 02:24 PM | Permanent link to this comment

FM is perhaps the most obnoxious rock song ever recorded.  Steely Dan should burn in hell.

By on 06/26/05 at 06:30 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I was going to mention Cosmas Indicopleustes, but never mind.

Why? Why ‘never mind’, I mean, now that you have gone ahead and mentioned. 

For the record, I don’t care if Jonathan or anyone else listens to Steely Dan or the Shins or (shudder) Yo La Tengo, it’s your soul you’re destroying, not mine. 

Genevieve, Safeway have been playing a lot of early 70s Bowie lately, which I find a bit strange, given there couldn’t be many individuals with less need for actual food.

By on 06/26/05 at 09:54 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Well, Cosmas really kicks ass, but it is a pretty obscure band.

By John Emerson on 06/26/05 at 10:13 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Sounds to me like Laura has made her point - this thread is good for a laugh but it’s pretty much hijacked now. Listen to yourselves, we are talking about what we hear in the supermarket (how silly they are playing skinny people’s music, I agree. And by the way Velvet Underground will never be played in Western supermarkets, as most of their songs are openly about the acquisition of hard drugs. This I too did not know until my thirties, when I actually bought a CD and listened to it.)
I am enticed by the claim that ‘even the worst rock music is more adventurous than fiction,’ that’s quite a fun idea (shit, where ARE those interrobangs on this keyboard?)Seriously, we could go on and on like this, and for what? Steely is as steely does.

By genevieve on 06/26/05 at 10:56 PM | Permanent link to this comment

The Soft Machine produced unadventurous music?  That’s an interesting thesis.  Maybe after Wyatt left.

NTM anyone who refers to “heavy metal in general” is either very ignorant or very, very well-informed about metal, and I’m gonna guess that Luther Blisset isn’t the latter.

By ben wolfson on 06/27/05 at 10:52 AM | Permanent link to this comment

yea, you need to listen a lot harder than you have, the Dan is extreme behind a veiled exterior.
but, i guess if you listen to Velvet you wouldn’t know that.

By on 11/07/06 at 04:28 PM | Permanent link to this comment

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