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August 21, 2007

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William Gibson and the New Baroque

Terrific interview with William Gibson over at The Onion A.V. Club — it includes this bit:

I don’t know what constitutes “noir” in 2007. I mean, would The Wire be noir? I don’t think so. Actually, noir — I was taught in college — is a kind of baroque pop version of literary naturalism. Anyway, that’s the way some critics have looked at it. I think that a show like The Wire is the closest we come these days to naturalism. It’s a genuine, authentic attempt at naturalism. I’ve never really attempted naturalism before, but I value it a lot, so all of its more baroque forms have been very valuable to me. One of them, I think, is noir.

I haven’t thought about stuff like that since I was an undergraduate. [Laughs.] I’m amazed I can still do it.

Not to get too undergraduate myself here, but I am finding “baroque” a more and more useful concept these days. What is The Postal Service if not baroque? What is The Arcade Fire if not chamber pop?

Any more nominations for modern baroque in any medium? Or, jeez, good definitions? I feel like I know what it means but can’t necessarily articulate it with any great precision.

Posted August 21, 2007 at 11:23 | Comments (2) | Permasnark
File under: Books, Writing & Such, Briefly Noted, Society/Culture


I think Gibson is using baroque to mean overly fussy. The music definitely has baroque influences which probably come from trance and 80's hair band rock.

Posted by: OTI on August 22, 2007 at 10:41 PM

"Baroque" and "subtle" are diametrically opposed terms. So Baroque is anything that's fussy/elaborate in form, but also in a way that's direct, frontal, ostentatious (formally and thematically). The Arcade Fire is one band I would gladly call baroque.

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