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March 28, 2007


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Ben Ellis

I think it's all about the tropes signalling what you can expect, automatically creating the possibility of payoffs. In South Park, this can be almost extraneous, superficial albeit very funny. In Lethem what you identify as the mix is a very artful way of deliberately unsettling narrative and symbolic expectations so that the rhythm of the work feels fresh and original. You don't know where the payoff is going to happen in such a mix, so you're more alert to the text, more porous as a reader. Perhaps.


It's all about form. Listening to Mozart is very different from listenting to say, Boulez, in that Mozart (or any pop group for that matter) more often works within established forms while Boulez makes most of his up. Part of the pleasure of listening to Reich is that he may be making the form up, but his whole M.O. is to make the form really clear even on your first listen to the piece. That's as much part of the pleasure as the funky rhythms. As Ben said, creates expectations to be satisfied or subverted, and also a macro-expectation of the piece as a whole.

Bouncing off that, I'm also moved to think of sports. One of the attractions of watching sports is that we have a knowledge of the rules and may have played by them ourselves. Part of the joy in watching is seeing how players are able to work within those limitations to work their will. Because of its history we can compare the players across decades. And the cultural conversation can not only cover different generations but also it binds together folks of different circumstances. The wall street honcho and Dominican immigrant might both be in the stands for the Yankees game, and in the same theater for Miami Vice.

That being said, I wonder what genre deconstruction would be for sports? "And it's the final seconds in the final four and Georgetown is two points behind and they need this basket to tie for OT...they're coming in and...I don't believe it! They've kicked it between the basket for a field goal! Georgetown wins it!"

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