Wednesday, December 24, 2014


It's hard to find much fault with Saint Kim, a renaissance woman who's been a constant in my underground music and culture-obsessed life for over thirty years during her time with Sonic Youth, multiple side bands and a wide variety of fashion, art, filmmaking and other endeavors. Everyone loves Kim, right? But hey, can she sling together a group of sentences in an edifying and entertaining manner? I wasn't actually sure, so I bought this German-pressed collection of some of her writings from the 1980s up to just a year or two ago in hopes of finding out. She's got an autobiography due out soon as well, so I reckoned I'd get a jump on that by poring through the tour diaries, art theorizing, semiotics and cultural criticisms that are speckled throughout this small volume.

Let it be said that while Ms. Gordon loses no overall cultural luster from this collection of her writings, I wouldn't recommend that you actually spend any more than a few minutes browsing it in a bookstore. Actually reading it? It's not easy, let me tell ya. See, Kim Gordon comes from the art world. She often, but not always, writes like people from the art world - insular, impenetrable, overblown and for fellow travelers only. She doesn't come off as pompous, not really; she merely confirms what a blowhard world that of high art and even mid-brow art is. So you might see it as guilt by association; I instead choose to see her mimicry of the art/academic written aesthetic something that just comes with the territory when you're jawboning to a closed circle. Heaven forbid that someone try and penetrate the purple prose of the elite. Why even bother talking down to those who'd deign to try?

That said, I liked her piece on Raymond Pettibon, as well as a 1985 Artforum piece in which she works over Southern California hardcore punk like a real pro. There's a late 80s Sonic Youth tour diary as well, and then a series of pieces and interviews that over-intellectualizes that which should be relatively straightforward: Glenn Branca, Harry Crews and Mike Kelley, for instance. I assure you, I'm no philistine, but I'm easily fed up with the needlessly pompous and/or "transgressive", and this book gets me no closer to resolving my antipathy to that world. Here's hoping her next book's more in keeping with the as-yet-untoppled mental alter I've built for her.