The Uses of Literacy

Posted: July 9, 2011 in Mark Simpson, Morrissey, Scribbling On Foucault's Walls, Writing

The problem with writing is it never finishes. Foucault’s Daughter was supposed to mark the ‘end’ of something but it has failed in that.

I started talking about fandom, and Pulp and (Saint) Morrissey, and the Great Men of Pop Mythology.  Of  ‘fagiography’ .

And then I remembered The Uses of Literacy.

The artist Jeremy Deller curated an exhibition of fan art by Manic Street Preachers fans. Yes, there are other fans apart from Morrissey fans. It was also made into a booklet which I own, a shiny silver cover with the set list for one of the Manics’ gigs on the front. Or is it a list of album tracks? I don’t know. I am not a Manics fan. I am a fan of fans.

This is the Deller/Manics book made as a record of the art instillation. I’d forgotten it was called The Uses of Literacy after Richard Hoggart’s book. Hoggart is part of my own, personal childhood hagiography. I cannot escape the Great Men of History.

Deller’s art is all about real and  ‘imagined communities’. The cultural studies analysis versus Simpson’s Freudian one. Both are compelling but I think the cultural studies version is more democratic and less hopeless.  I think Simpson  embraces the community of fandom to an extent, but in order to do that convincingly in Saint Moz he would have needed to have been more ‘democratic’ in citing a variety of sources and bringing to life more voices. He could have cited Deller and the Manics fans if he had have wanted to, as The Uses of Literacy was made in 2000, three years before Saint Morrissey was published…

Being a fan is what joins us together not what sets us apart from each other.


And in this neo-liberal individual alienated, mediated consumer culture, ‘US‘ is a very powerful word.

  1. billsnshits says:

    A freudian approach is universal, and claims to hold universal appeal, and promises universal acceptance, even in the technical controversies it may generate about its methodology.

    A cultural studies analysis necessarily makes note of and legitimizes and incites philosophical differences in the various sects of a community.

    In this neo-liberal world, where the clamp down individual liberty is spectrally floating from across the spectrum, what is one to do? A freudian approach seems to be more accessible to people across the spectrum.

    It’s just that I’m about to say some things (not here) which will get some law and order moralists very very angry. And I wonder if I shouldn’t just leave things be, with everyone isolated? I’d like to say some things, outside of my sect, that are never said outside my sect. Maybe nobody will hear them and that wouldn’t be too bad. But if it is heard, I don’t want to make things worse for anybody, particularly those who already have their backs against the wall.
    Even if this is only about controlling a creative statement, rather than any relevant, practical concern about reception, it’s still relevant to the act of creation.
    In fact, I wouldn’t say we are an individualist culture, but a sectarian one. Fandom, indeed. Could be political. Or could just be, more likely even, your neighborhood. The sexy neighborhood keeps to itself. The working class to itself, to rich to itself. The religious fundamentalists go to church and gossip. The seculars gossip at the movies. Many things basically go unsaid in the large, b/c they are happily said and passed over, within the sects.
    And isn’t that actually one of the nice things about cliques? We don’t have to anger each other all the time, we can just find happiness in our clique and let our enemies find happiness in theirs.

    I guess this sounds a little chickenshitty (or a LOT) but the examples of some prominent chickenshits whom I nevertheless (or otherwise) admire has got me second guessing myself.
    I think I need to go listen to some morrissey (and manic street preachers) to strengthen my resolve.

  2. Mister Simpson: If you read this far… it’s ok. I don’t need you to comment. You’ll only lie and say I have a point.

    You win. Morrissey wins. The Cock wins. The Fagistocracy is intact. But I haven’t finished with you yet.

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