And I say, "Ooh ooh, I'm a robot man."Why do you say the "ooh" part of that? There's some vague kind of story that the song implies, but no one would listen to the song for the sake of that story. The point of the lyrics is pretty much just to say "robot man." It's like Motörhead singing "It's a bomber" or Girlschool getting right to the point and having the one word chorus: "Demolition." It's also very much like my son when he was little smashing two toy cars together and shouting "Powers!" A movie version of this sort of thing would be all explosions. It doesn't make any sense but it appeals to something very primitive in (some of) us.
And then I read a review of a book about Picasso that got me thinking. What can we make of this?
He observes that most of Picasso’s paintings employ what he calls a “room space”, self-contained, intimate and able to provide a setting for the expression of powerful feelings. He considers this room space to be a basic premiss of how Picasso treats beauty and subjectivity – what Clark calls the artist’s “truth-condition”. Such a space, he feels, is integral to the artist’s world view. It is not merely a medium or a vehicle, such as a grammatical or structural device, but a “semantics”, the creation of a new kind of reality.
Although some of this may seem self-evident,...The review, by Jack Flam, goes on to criticize T. J. Clark for bringing Wittgenstein and Nietzsche into the attempt to appreciate Picasso's work. I can imagine that Clark's discussion of Wittgenstein helps little. But what about Flam's account of Clark above? How is a "room space" (Clark's expression) different from either a room or a space? How can such a space be a premise or a truth-condition? I think this just means that it is something like a presupposition or fundamental element. But then how can it be a semantics? And in what sense is a semantics the creation of a new kind of reality? Picasso has a new vision of reality--that's about all I can wring out of this, and we knew that already. The rest, as far as I can tell, is an attempt to sound clever by using philosophical vocabulary. Which is what Flam criticizes Clark for doing. Maybe they are all at it.
Heavy metal is a kind of nonsense, but it's honest nonsense. The best of it has no pretensions whatsoever (although there is something a bit Häagen-Dazs about the umlaut in Motörhead). The nonsense that comes from trying to sound smart is a different matter. Saying nothing because you aren't trying to say anything is better than saying nothing because you have nothing to say but either think you do or else want to appear as if you do. But I suppose everyone agrees with that, and I might have missed something (or a lot) in what Flam says about Clark.