John Cage loved sounds just as they are — he didn’t want a sound to pretend to be a bucket. He associated himself with Kant. He let a black cat love-bite at his hand. He articulated the insight that Schopenhauer tripped over (undercutting his own argument by engaging in the Critic’s perviest fetish of constructing a qualitative hierarchy of musical operationalizations—to paraphrase Schop: orchestral music channels the Spheres while jazz spills the Philistine bowel); he skipped Arthur’s tautological riddle of music as first level ontological representation and went right to the point: music is sound and sound is meaningless.
So: get a grip, groupie.
Mr. Cage also pointed out that he didn’t want sound to be psychological. OK. That’s more nihilism. And nihilism is a peaceful seat for watching a war. It’s also a very effective psychological treatment if you can kick the solipsism habit.
So: sit down—ass flat, spine straight, head raised, eyes open; pay attention.
Someone in Japandroids needs secure base therapy. Like many bandboys from the 90s, he has no compunction with sticking his insecure attachment style in our faces like John Cage’s black cat’s feckless bite. In “The House that Heaven Built,” no one needs anybody. After their mothers leave the room, they sit and fiddle with a block. The stranger isn’t even there, and they’re not going to give her the satisfaction of seeing their anxious, desperate longing. Their mothers return, they see them in their peripheral vision, but they stare even harder at those blocks, memorizing the “A,” turning it to glare at the “1.” ‘Cause those bitches and their treacherous breasts can go to hell. In “The House that Heaven Built,” the splitting defense reigns and object love is fraught with primal danger — all the love its residents need is in their own shadows. It’s not a subtle diss. It’s a waving, paranoid-schizoid finger trying to hold itself together while sweating total fragmentation. It reveals poor selfobject mirroring of the self’s grandiose pole and the self’s resulting narcissistic tension.
So: sliding-scale time.
What does this have to do with their music, or anyone else’s? Not a goddamn thing. There’s nothing honest to be said about music anyway (John Cage was right). When you choose to pollute sound-making with words and rhythm — you aren’t making music anymore (Schopenhauer was right). You’re making propaganda.
So: the only thing left to talk about is whatever mind game you’re playing at.
That said, “The House that Heaven Built” is a hell of a rock anthem, an honest to God fist pop jam. Of course, if we feel it, that means we’re just as insecure as its author.
So: it’s OK to cry, dude.
Japandroids on the web.