2012.10.28

The pop artisan operates within the received formulas–gangster movie, radio-ready A-side, space opera–and then incorporates into the style, manner, and mood of the work bits and pieces derived from all the aesthetic moments he or she has ever fallen in love with in other movies or songs or novels, whether hackwork or genius (without regard for and sometimes without consciousness of any difference between the two): the bridge in a song by the Moonglows, a James Wong Howe camera angle, a Sabatini cannonade, a Stan Getz solo, the climax of The Demolished Man, a locomotive design by Raymond Loewy, a Shecky Greene routine. When it works, what you get is not a collection of references, quotes, allusions, and cribs but a whole, seamless thing, both familiar and new: a record of the consciousness that was busy falling in love with those moments in the first place. It’s that filtering consciousness, coupled with the physical ability (or whatever it is) to flat-out play or sing or write or draw, that transforms the fragments of jetsam and familiar pieces into something fresh and unheard of. If that sounds a lot like what flaming genius gods are supposed to be up to, then here’s a distinction: the pop artisan is always hoping that, in the end, the thing is going to fucking kill.

Michael Chabon, “The Killer Hook”, Maps and Legends (99).

This is a great passage. I love it, and it speaks to me. But I can’t help but notice, in Chabon’s mini-recitation of Things He Loves, there isn’t a single piece of creative work made by a woman.