Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Light That's Going Out

Happiness is always the same, but there are an infinite number of ways of being unhappy. While that's not quite an original thought, I was reminded today of another way of being unhappy; it's not a sorrowful feeling, it's not melancholic, it's not the dizzy nausea of loss, or a dank depression or despair, it's got nothing to do with pity or sympathy; it's much milder, much more pointless, less an experience of unhappiness than a sort of existential yawn that somehow aches. At what point does one stop being a fan and cut those precious, invisible strands of devotion and dedication and admiration that bind you to somebody from afar? What does it even mean to stop being a fan? Is there a point where someone's actions so influence you that you're turned off by their art as well? I'm not talking about those avid watercolourists who face the dilemma of being great admirers of Hitler's oeuvre and yet must struggle to reconcile the art with the man; I actually don't know if such a group really exists, but I like to think that they do, and that their annual newsletter is fraught with aesthetic-ethical debates. No, it's Morrissey again, a man who would apparently now like to be both famous and righteous and holy. The man has rather insistently put himself into all sorts of awkward positions over the past few decades in a manner that has been reliably truculent and often associated with animal rights (although, as I'm sure everybody has noticed, there's a peculiar, irrepressible and boringly regular strand of xenophobia and racism laced in with his animal rights rhetoric); in his dotage, Morrissey has become a sort of petulant, fey version of Elizabeth Costello, but without her hesitation and, I'm sorry to say, lacking her charm.

As an alert reader pointed out with disgust, in an e-mail poisonously titled "I've changed my verdict to guilty", and as I'm sure everybody is now aware, Morrissey compared what happened in Norway to the fast food industry; or rather, he turned the comparison on its head and said that what happened in Norway "is nothing compared to what McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Shit every day". The alert reader is giving away his Morrissey tickets for the forthcoming concert; sans tickets, sans opportunity, I'm not facing a similar ethical quandary.

I don't think I need to offer any incisive commentary on what Morrissey said; for a man who has long prided himself on his wit, his comment lacks any whatsoever. That his comment lacks many other things as well can be left unsaid. But he lost a lot of people who really enjoyed defending him through thick and thin; we were, in fact, a sort of subspecies, and we're fast going extinct.

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