I believe that even the greatest works of literature have a little tail of human frailty which, if one is on the lookout for it, begins to wag slightly and disturbs the sublime, godlike quality of the whole…

– Franz Kafka in a letter to Felice Bauer, quoted by Nicholas Murray in Kafka, Abacus, G.B., 2005, p. 158. [Note: printed and bound in Croydon.]

Zachary and I were very disappointed when we finally heard Trent Reznor’s NIN Year Zero, 2007. It’s dull and dulls. Z. found the pictures on the CD sleeve much more interesting. Apparently the Bible is a weapon. War and industry are in league in inspiring warm sepia-toned visions of future apocalypse.

Trent Reznor is a concept in search of an expressive medium. His voice has no range. Duh! His phrasing’s as boring as his beats. The huge narcissistic sentimentality of the project undermines any attempt to grate or epater. But lit. it in’t. So?

In view of study, it set me thinking on why, while it may speak to its subcult, neither Year Zero nor Trent Reznor speak to me. Not even a postcard. No dialectic. No sensation. Sense deadened rather than excited into nullity, devastation or deathiness. As for inciting to sedition, as claimed in the cod-concept-merch-advert-ambience of the project, without appealing to the senses, any appeal the “project” makes to the intellect can only fail, rests, indeed, at year zero on zero ground. But why?

The problem lies in the exclusion zone, in the fact that there is one and that I’m in it. The project remains a project and doesn’t reach to becoming a spectacle. Its grasp throttles its reach. Now I mean “spectacle” in the sense hinted at, tragically, in the previous post. The spectacle of a passion inherits some important characteristics of tragedy, notably, the inclusion of the people, not yet a mass, in catharsis.

The passionate spectacle of a Trent Reznor, for example, excludes for the purpose of producing a sense of belonging in the NIN subcult. The passionate spectacle of the eucharist, for example, excludes for the purpose of reinforcing, in the Mass, the sense of belonging of the mass, not people any longer.

How generate a sense of inclusiveness in the spectacle of a passion? This is where Deleuze’s “logic of sense” comes in to get the signal through. See, in contrast to Virilio’s idea that the pitilessness of art relates to the apotheosis of presentation above representation, I think it might be the other way round. Or if it’s not, then pity, with anguish, is the very thing that must be exorcised in the spectacle of a passion.

Put another way, the spectacle of Trent Reznor’s struggle with belief, disbelief, only represents that struggle, with which the medium of the merch&music doesn’t permit Mitgefuehl as a sensory experience, let alone as an inclusive sensory experience. The vision of the self-excoriating artist vacillates somewhere between Nietzsche and Christ. But get the artist to present, to communicate that excoriation directly to the senses of the people.

Human frailty, pity for, pitifulness, are not the objects of a spectacle of passion. Cutting off the little tail is not the same as denying it was ever there, wagging, disturbingly… which is the avenue of satire, yes?

Then there’s the subcult in which the wagging of one little tail resonates at a frequency to set a whole group of little frailties wagging, which is hardly the demesne of the God of Misrule. Naughty naughty anarchy!