Overwinding & The Greater Mash up Culture

// Posted by on 04/07/2014 (1:25 PM)



Rushkoffs fundamental argument is the phenomenon of presentism, or as he coins it “present shock”.  He theorizes that humans have lost the ability to engage traditional narrative and over time developed new ways to replace the once present narrative structure, as we try to adapt to this shock induced by the loss of a real sense of future, and the long term. Rushkoff argues that the future is right now, and we have completely reinvented our definition and relationship to time itself. Everything we do is in the NOW, like HFT based on algorithms, we take loans we can’t pay off or live out of our means because we want that house, that car, that boat NOW, the younger generations are constantly texting and in cyber space trying to figure out if something better or more fun is happening NOW, but somewhere other than were they are at that very moment.  Rushkoff uses this technology obsession as one way to illustrate that the future is the now. He calls this notion “Digiphrenia”, in which technology allows us to be in more than one place, more of one self, simultaneously.  He argues that we exist and operate in more places than once all the time, your personal self, your Facebook profile, your twitter feed, and is your email account. We are all online living in these different spheres that are out of our control. We live this digitally induced “mental condition” in which we ultimately have multiple separate yet parallel identities which are created to connect us, yet seem to just become an overwhelming distracting that create an atmosphere in which we are not ever really fully present, lose touch with that moment in which we are in and who we are within that very moment. The access to these different mediums of connectivity, and a continuous stream via, twitter etc. of information 24 hours, 7 days a week begins to erode our capacity for attention, as we are constantly pervaded by push notifications and the cyber world.

Digiprenia is also connected to this idea of “over winding”, in which we are compressing time and its consequences into the “short forever” where there is no longer time to prepare and we lose all sense of anticipation.  Rushkoff argues the result of this to be detrimental to the way in which we live and learn. As the over availability of information separates it from its original context and removes the middle man, we lose the journey and the experience that was once involved in finding and accumulating information as it was gathered over time. “When everything is rendered instantly accessible via Google and iTunes the entirety of culture becomes a since layer deep. The journey disappears, and all knowledge is brought into the present tense. ” (Rushkoff, 153).  Rushkoff blames the loss of new and unique cultures on the death of the journey. He suggests without the chase of the information, our culture has fallen stagnant. We hold on to music styles and fashions as middle aged adults attempt to cling to their youth, because developing these cultures and these fads, these genres took time to grow and develop, it was a process, not a fleeting fad. Culture is shallow in a sense and we don’t take the time to develop and acquire these layers and experience that push and evolve a certain genre, therefore making fashion, or music more of a disposable trend, a one hit wonder.  Rushkoff suggests this is where the mash up culture is born, as artist’s forces genres and different time frames to merge and interact in the now, this also exemplifying the consequence of this digiphrenia as we “hop from choice to choice with no present at all (115).  Mash up artists and deejays use copy and paste to create “one perspective from multiple moments” instead of waiting to see how music genres and time periods may organically fuse.  Do you think mash up music actually represents more of a mash up culture as a whole? For example, minutes scanning Facebook mash up years, a hundred experiences, a hundred friends from hundred different places into a single now. In a click of the button on your timeline you can be immediately taken back to 2009, high school prom, or to that family trip with your ex best friend, who you haven’t talked to in years, yet somehow stayed completely connected to their lives through a website. Rushkoff argues that virtually, we live all of ages at once, every day. Nothing is left behind, as “our recorded past then competes with our experiences present from dominance over the moment… in the short forever, nothing recedes. Everything relative is relevant” (157).


Do you agree that this mash up music culture is more reflective of our culture as a whole? Do you think our culture, specifically as shown through fashion and music has come to a standstill? Do you think the genre of “mash up music” is the recycling of the past because we no longer take the time and research to create a new, unique counter culture to call our own? Do you agree that we have lost the journey as Google and/ or research databases such a JSTOR allow us to reach the final destination without really even embarking on the trip?

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Emily said...

Some points you make regarding mashups, generations developing, etc. remind me of the fact that our generation doesn’t have anything to show for themselves. For example, our parents’ generation loves to share their oldies/rock and roll music… I most definitely will not be sharing EDM with my children. We don’t really have an identity as a whole besides the fact that our generation has become obsessed with raving to techno music. That is slightly embarrassing and seems to be a more trendy, at the moment type of thing rather than a special, generation-specific, admirable quality about our gender’s culture. It is sad to me that musicians (of this day and age) are not necessarily considered artists anymore. Songs aren’t as filled with meaningful and relatable lyrics… and that’s what music is all about right? Being able to express yourself and relaying a message in the process. I definitely think that mash up music is a reflection of our inability to be creative and unique. I also think we have become lazy which leads to my next example about when my family was playing trivia the other week. Granted it was the older version so it was more direct to my parents’ generation but they knew EVERYTHING. All I could think about was that if similar questions were asked that were relevant to my generation, I would know absolutely nothing. This is exactly the point…even though we have more access to technology, news, etc. we pay attention LESS and are LESS aware and attentive. It’s pretty ironic!

// 04/07/2014 at 2:14 pm

Kevin said...

I think in many ways it is true that mash up culture reflects our cultures impatience with waiting for new material. It seems that we are more concerned with just hearing familiar noises in a pleasurable way as opposed to waiting until a couple new great songs actually come out. This certainly defines that we have lost touch with the journey of finding new things because we are so concerned with immediate pleasure. I think this in many ways relates to Rushkoff’s discussion on how we try to make ourselves increasingly like machines. We want to see connections where they are not necessarily there because computers so easily make connections, yet this is a dangerous new process that may set us up for failure.

Now, this particular example may be a little bit extreme, but I believe that mashups in many ways are like creating connections where they are not necessarily there, which is dangerous for our mental development. Instead of choosing to make new music, we use a machine in order to combine a bunch of sounds that we’ve already decided that we like. I do not doubt the fact that a mashup is difficult to create, but it still does not represent a form of truly artistic creation.

Also, I agree that this may be similar to the result of having databases like JSTOR and Google at our constant disposal. We tend to be completely impatient with finding material because we are used to finding it so quickly. Similarly, when a good song does not come out for even a week, we turn to mashups to combine songs that already exist. We do not question the artistic aspect of these songs, but merely accept the mashup because it is instant gratification with songs we already know that we like.

Despite my strong opinions regarding how mashups really do show that we are a cultural which has begun to neglect the journey, I do not think that they are going anywhere. In fact, I think they will become more and more prevalent as our culture of constant consumption eventually takes us over. No one wants to wait for the new songs nowadays, and like Rushkoff said, we are more inclined to try and find connections where they are not there. Thus, we will most likely continue to combine catchy aspects of seemingly unrelated songs, and also probably become less patient with waiting for new music.

// 04/07/2014 at 6:04 pm