Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Boring Transgressiveness

Here's a line from Snoop Dogg's Vato:

I wouldn't be the n_____ that I am if I didn't pop n____z in the mouth.

Isn't that poetic? I listened to the whole CD. I checked it out from the library. Here's my assessment: Snoop Dogg manages to pull off an amazing feat. He makes sex, drugs and violence seem so ... boring.

Before I commend him too effusively: even that has been done before. Last year Staind managed to make anger and incredible guitarwork boring.

It had never occurred to me before writing my book how much we can learn from boredom. Then I stumbled across a book called A Philosophy of Boredom, by a Norwegian professor.

Boredom, as it turns out, is more than an attitude. It can also reside in an environment. Boredom, according to prof. Lars Svendsen, is basically a refusal to take delight in the world. This is significant in the realm of transgression. Transgressiveness is a value in much of the art world, because of the high pressure put on artists to do something never done before.

The trouble is that the psychology of transgression focuses more on the boundaries to be crosssed than on what lies beyond them. So the transgressive artist is not saying anything about the world out there; only about the boundaries themselves. And if all boundaries are crossed, there is nothing else to say.

So if transgression is an artistic goal, boredom will be the result. In Snoop Dogg's case, we have songs about every kind of gang violence, every kind of drug, and every kind of cheap sex. And what are we left with? I can't even take offense. It's just plain old boring.

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At 7:38 PM, February 06, 2007, Blogger Jenn said...

I once audited a class about Lewis, Tolkein, and Charles Williams, in which the professor (Dr. Tom Howard) said that one of the main thrusts in the works of all three of these men is that evil is, essentially and at its core, boring.


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