I’m struck by the staying power of Weird Al Yankovic. Am I crazy or is there a widespread, though for the most part unspoken, respect for this man? Almost as if, by staying out of step with all minor ups and downs and taste-making forces of culture, and adhering only to his own aggro-spazz sensibilities, he has finally come into sync with some larger frequency— “frequency” being the operative word here. There are aesthetic progressions and then, there are aesthetic frequencies, that over time stray and come into sudden concurrence with other, unexpected frequencies, allowing for previously impossible partnerships and sympathies.
For instance, right about now, me and the 99¢ Only Store are enjoying a truly celestial alignment; so much so that I feel compelled to repost all their facebook ads on my wall— or timeline, whatever— purely on the merits of good form. “GREAT DEAL ALERT: Dozen Eggs in CA, AZ, NV and TX stores for just 99 point 99 cents each! While supplies last, limit 2 per customer:
This carton is almost neo-classical for me— a clean, ideal response to the great TMI shitshow that is my Facebook feed and timeline. This store and I hail from very different sensibilities, of course, but for the time being, these ads represent an intersection, a brief harmony, of desires that will no doubt diverge and clash before too long. How much of aesthetics, we can ask, is the mastery of harmonies and cycles— of what is fresh and what is fatiguing, what is drifting and what is resonant— rather than the discovery of The New of an aesthetic progression? How much is a matter of cultural tuning.
Someone once mentioned the idea of heterochronicity, in regard to the global difference of cultures and their inter-interpretation. I was a little hesitant at the time and now I understand why: I was wary that, if chronicity were brashly interpreted as “rate,” the quicker rates in North Atlantic or Japanese cultures would somehow place them in advance of “slow rate” cultures south of the Equator, somewhere further along on the timeline of cultural or aesthetic progression. Another, and more just, interpretation of this chronicity would be in terms of frequencies and cycles, in which cultures could clash or misconstrue one another, but without giving one a surer or more advanced perspective, or without making it seem that fatigue and pendulum swings only shape tastes in the wealthiest quarter of the world. A sudden love for Kenyan dancehall or Ghanaian cinema would just be one of these happy harmonizations, a brief concurrence, and not a “discovery” by Europe or the States.
Or, within a culture or subculture or individual, we might better understand the reception of The New— as well as false novelty— by picking apart some of the various frequencies and cycles flowing through them at the time. America’s infatuation with Mad Men. The quick Japanese transition from traditional to Western garb. The secret sympathies between Kim Jong Il and Space Jam. The aesthetic interplays of Fascism and Futurism, or Russian Communism and Constructivism. My own, new and surprising appreciation of Debbie Gibson’s Only in my Dreams— seemingly out of nowhere. To properly probe and analyze these shifts in the field of our likes and dislikes (i.e. the thing about Debbie), we probably need something more finely tuned: a kind of spectral aesthetics.