Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Capsule: In memoriam - Tony Wilson, 1950-2007

Much has been said about the creativity, influence, intelligence and passion of Anthony H Wilson, who died last week at the age of 57. Amy at Tapeclub makes the wise point that, for many of us, he was one of the people who got us thinking - seriously thinking and thinking seriously - about popular culture: what it means, where it should go, how it is influenced by critical theory, how it is shaped by changing mediums, how it changes lives, cities, industries.

Three observations:

1. They really don't make 'svengalis' (which he really wasn't) like this any more. Oh sure, there are plenty of people hustling and running around doing interesting things, but there appears to be no-one with an overarching scheme or plan to pull the strands together. Or maybe culture is just too fragmented for that to be possible any more?

2. We live in post-Wilson world now, in the sense that we give due prominence and significance to pop culture, but without applying any significant critical intelligence to it. An ever-expanding amount of commentary and coverage does not equate to insight.

3. Would a figure like Wilson be able to put their city or region on the map now, in the way that he did for Manchester? From this vantage point, it is hard to see how we can avoid London being too dominant and over-mighty in our cultural discourse.

Listening to 'Wrote For Luck' this morning, I again was struck by this Ryder couplet:

You use to speak the truth.
But now you're liar.
You use to speak the truth.
But now you're clever.


which in some way sums up the myth and craziness that surrounded Wilson, qualities which will - no doubt - burnish his legend.

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