19/11/2001
 

:claudia's column:

gamine as myth or the ultimate in good taste?

   
       
Gather round all you cynics, sociologists, demystifiers, the mystified and those fans who believe in us with blind adoration. Gamine have to give you assurance that at last, in us, you have found an authority on style, art and good taste. Occasionally sociologists decode cultural phenomena through what they call semiology. Beneath all the signs and symbols, they unearth (they believe), not the truth but a myth which has been naturalised and normalised into what is accepted as legitimate and true, like 'T****s is a talented band...'; nothing but a vapid ideology. Who would do such a thing? Turn some perfectly nice signs into a manipulative and capricious myth?    
       

Roland Barthes blames it on the dominant social classes, i.e. the bourgeoisie (c.f. Roland Barthes: "Mythologies"), whose powers are manifested in politics, education, media, major record companies and so forth. It is in their interest to propagate cultural myths in order to maintain their powers. Not that this regime is entirely despotic, more a harmonious, transient hegemony, which is supposedly run like a democracy - where the masses, the petit-bourgeoisie, the consumers, 'vote with their money' (if they really had any choice would they buy Wes***fe ?) The bourgeoisie deal with uprisings by using the rhetoric of common sense and creating a new negative myth to admonish them, e.g. 'techno is for drug users'. If, however, these deviant groups prove too popular and domineering to be vanquished then they are assimilated into the bourgeois hegemony and are delegated a 'type' e.g. Beatnik, Punk or expressionist. Slowly these groups' powers are eroded, by having all their signs conformed and the petit-bourgeoisie can relax again.    
       

All of this would have been fine until the birth of Gamine. Our cultural authority is undeniable and yet we are far from being members of the bourgeoisie, we are in fact excluded, not necessarily by choice, just circumstance. We are the oppressed, in this case not by the bourgeoisie, but by being forever bound to make classic music. Oppressed by our vocation. Music is our master who we respect and obey, as it teaches us truth.    

Why is it then that Gamine has authority on style and the Beaut***l S**th do not? I am not proposing in any way the tautological argument 'Gamine is good because it is'. There is no arbitrary reason why people love us. What we possibly, rather naively, have to consider is that a pure and spontaneous choice is existentially possible when people hear our music or come to our gigs for the first time. Phenomenology might explain why it is that when an audience first experiences "Gamineness" it experiences something that can only be equated with a religious experience - shock, often tears, unlimited understanding, love, conviction and conversion.

   

Take heed, do not try to understand the ontology of Gamine empirically, you will only be confused. We do not mean to dominate you, we can't help it. But have faith that Gamine will perpetually bring you great tracks, music to dance to, something to shock your granny with, unforgettable tunes and meaning to your lives (and after-lives).