We don't do the results of the decade because we think, that the decade can't be finished with the number nine.
We will do the results next year.
Such a position might be seen as either lazy, or serious.


Where is the line between a labored showing off and sincere seriousness?

If showing off is sincere, then is it serious?

Or if being serious is mandatory then is that just showing off?

In the Music Column, we talk about hip-hop jazz,

In the Fashion Column, we deal with current situations and clothing-flossing,

In the Philosophy Column, we talk about sincerity but without being too serious.

We watched the movie released this year by Woody Allen,

We discuss the trends on the new sincerity using stand-up examples and we continue getting interviews from freshmen of the year.

The Bonus of the issue is comparing such different views in poetry and boxing.


Verena Podolsky
edited by Eleonora Kap
EVEN FUNCTION
I.
LOYLE CARNER

II.
APOLLO BROWN
MUSIC
LOYLE CARNER
KATHERINE GORINA
ANTON VALSKY
INTEGRAL
Loyle Carner — a twenty-five-year-old rapper from south London. A Yves Saint-Laurent model and King Krule's friend. He is Ben Coyle-Larner but changed the letters as a tribute to his dyslexia which is captivating in itself. Carner's debut album «Yesterday's Gone» (2017), named this way in honor of the track from his father's which had been recorded not a long time before he died. He had recorded but didn't release it.

This tells us a lot about Carner and his creation. His lyrics are focused on his friends and family. The music is as fragile and honest as his lyrics. Taken together it creates a feeling of something private and even a bit uncomfortable. In this new album, the feeling increases.

«Not Waving, but Drowning» has a minimalist, dreamy and well-produced sound expands because of the Carner's melancholy vocals as well as the featuring performers (tracks «Loose end», «Ottolenghi», «Desoleil»). It sounds difficult, harsh and follows the best traditions of British hip-hop which refer to the classic soul.

Here we can find the tender sound of the keyboard and restrained Nordic beats paired with a dimmed saxophone in the background («Krispy»). It is produced accurately and with a fantasy. It is no matter how masterfully it is performed, he still cannot be called an innovator. However, it is an achievement when you can call the second album, a master album.

It's a bit more difficult when it comes to the text. The album starts with a letter to Loyle's mother («Dear Jean»), which is extremely intimate and ends with a letter from a mother to her son («Dear Ben»). It doesn't get easier in the middle. Friends, sisters, brothers, parents. Loyle Carner's loved ones, endlessly speak to each other on this album, apologize, and make declarations of love and reflect on that. At some moment the album feels overloaded by the quantity and quality.

It's not exactly clear why this happens. We wanted honesty. We got it. However, a vague feeling appears that Carner's lyrics open a door that is better left closed. In order to balance between the questionable edge concerning openness and sentimental soul exhibitionism, it is very difficult and not clear if Carner finds what he is looking for.


Katherine Gorina
translated by Nick Brandin
edited by Eleonora Kap

TANGENT TO A CIRCLE
Native Londoner Loyle Carner is barely known outside the English-speaking world even though «Not Waving, but Drowning» was released by the same label, Virgin EMI Records, as Rihanna. His first LP «Yesterday's Gone» (2017) was critically acclaimed. Also, the album was nominated alongside alt-J and The xx for one of the most prestigious British awards. Loyle is not new to the mainstream. Rapping about his life and personal concerns deviates from the typical artificial character of the gangster rapper and drug dealer.

Amongst modern rappers (especially popular ones), it is extremely difficult to find — if not the poet, at least someone honest. As opposed to endless «cars, chicks, cocaine» and unnatural sufferings from ruminations of personal feelings. However, there are reasons for this. It was assumed that hip-hop performers who have feelings and thoughts could be sold if they fit into these rap formulas. One of the examples is Lil Skies: «She left. I'm empty inside so I smoke a lot of weed. Yes, I'm the rapper» or a conglomeration of exaggerated sad characters which work only in combination with the beat, autotune or character of a person who passed away such as Lil Peep. Loyle Carner is a notable break in the industry, avoiding such formulas.

His album begins with a poem addressed to his mother, with a minimalistic beat. It means that people inside the industry likely think that the pendulum has swung and such things can be sold.

Not so long ago, the thing to be sold by a successful performer was a lifestyle in which freedom and independence came first. All of the attributes of such a character: drugs, confederates, guns, and chicks, were one grotesque way to describe the degree in which the performer's character cont`rasts with the environment or fits in with it.

Loyle offers us poetic, confessional hip-hop. His flow is monotone, honed. Sometimes it's sharp but calm, honest — which connects it to the rap of the 80s and 90s. What comes to mind is Erik B & Rakim — the same monotone style and profound eloquence. The other famous alternative is MF DOOM («That's That»). However, he reminds the listeners of all of these performers due to his delivery and the ability to put the words together. His delivery is much calmer. Sometimes, you can even forget that it's rap. The album contains touching tracks such as «Desoleil (Brilliant Corners)» which was produced with the soul musician Sampha, who won the Mercury Prize in 2017.

Needless to say, the main goal of the hip-hop performer is «changing the game», which means bringing something into the genre, something that can change it forever, to become a part of this genre which you love, in order to bring a small part of your personality to the table. It's hard to say if the young British performer has managed it or if he will be able to do it in the future. Even though we can point out the fact of an attempt here, it speaks a lot by itself.

However, his first release was a little bit closer to the boom-bap of the 90s with its straight and clear instrumental part. The album included more rhythmical rap tracks that we got used to liking «Ain't Nothing Changed» which was produced by Rebel Kleff. On this album, there is just one track featuring him, «You don't know», which is far more soul-like and not as impulsive.

Be that as it may, for a jazz fan, it won't be easy to get over the association with background jazz or «an elevator or lounge». It can be boring despite the variety of different samples, beats and structure, and a perfect work of talented producers: Jordan Rakei and Tom Misch (both are famous for jazz and soul releases respectively).

Sure, it's not Madlib with his masterpiece compilation of jazz remixes «Shades of Blue» (2003). By the way, Madlib's album has a lot in common with «Not Waving, but Drowning» even the motive with a call recording and conversation with friends that begins and closes Loyle's tracks.

There's not enough angriness and experimentation. After all even «Angel» and «Looking Back» could only win if they used a brighter delivery. I'm sure that such a talented musician could be much more interesting if he could find a way to express himself. This lounge-style makes you bored. You stop listening to his speech which is the main thing that is worth listening to on this album.


Anton Valsky
translated by Nick Brandin
edited by Eleonora Kap
INTEGRAL
Loyle Carner — a twenty-five-year-old rapper from south London. A Yves Saint-Laurent model and King Krule's friend. He is Ben Coyle-Larner but changed the letters as a tribute to his dyslexia which is captivating in itself. Carner's debut album «Yesterday's Gone» (2017), named this way in honor of the track from his father's which had been recorded not a long time before he died. He had recorded but didn't release it.

This tells us a lot about Carner and his creation. His lyrics are focused on his friends and family. The music is as fragile and honest as his lyrics. Taken together it creates a feeling of something private and even a bit uncomfortable. In this new album, the feeling increases.

«Not Waving, but Drowning» has a minimalist, dreamy and well-produced sound expands because of the Carner's melancholy vocals as well as the featuring performers (tracks «Loose end», «Ottolenghi», «Desoleil»). It sounds difficult, harsh and follows the best traditions of British hip-hop which refer to the classic soul.

Here we can find the tender sound of the keyboard and restrained Nordic beats paired with a dimmed saxophone in the background («Krispy»). It is produced accurately and with a fantasy. It is no matter how masterfully it is performed, he still cannot be called an innovator. However, it is an achievement when you can call the second album, a master album.

It's a bit more difficult when it comes to the text. The album starts with a letter to Loyle's mother («Dear Jean»), which is extremely intimate and ends with a letter from a mother to her son («Dear Ben»). It doesn't get easier in the middle. Friends, sisters, brothers, parents. Loyle Carner's loved ones, endlessly speak to each other on this album, apologize, and make declarations of love and reflect on that. At some moment the album feels overloaded by the quantity and quality.

It's not exactly clear why this happens. We wanted honesty. We got it. However, a vague feeling appears that Carner's lyrics open a door that is better left closed. In order to balance between the questionable edge concerning openness and sentimental soul exhibitionism, it is very difficult and not clear if Carner finds what he is looking for.


Katherine Gorina
translated by Nick Brandin
edited by Eleonora Kap
TANGENT TO A CIRCLE
Native Londoner Loyle Carner is barely known outside the English-speaking world even though «Not Waving, but Drowning» was released by the same label, Virgin EMI Records, as Rihanna. His first LP «Yesterday's Gone» (2017) was critically acclaimed. Also, the album was nominated alongside alt-J and The xx for one of the most prestigious British awards. Loyle is not new to the mainstream. Rapping about his life and personal concerns deviates from the typical artificial character of the gangster rapper and drug dealer.

Amongst modern rappers (especially popular ones), it is extremely difficult to find — if not the poet, at least someone honest. As opposed to endless «cars, chicks, cocaine» and unnatural sufferings from ruminations of personal feelings. However, there are reasons for this. It was assumed that hip-hop performers who have feelings and thoughts could be sold if they fit into these rap formulas. One of the examples is Lil Skies: «She left. I'm empty inside so I smoke a lot of weed. Yes, I'm the rapper» or a conglomeration of exaggerated sad characters which work only in combination with the beat, autotune or character of a person who passed away such as Lil Peep. Loyle Carner is a notable break in the industry, avoiding such formulas.

His album begins with a poem addressed to his mother, with a minimalistic beat. It means that people inside the industry likely think that the pendulum has swung and such things can be sold.

Not so long ago, the thing to be sold by a successful performer was a lifestyle in which freedom and independence came first. All of the attributes of such a character: drugs, confederates, guns, and chicks, were one grotesque way to describe the degree in which the performer's character cont`rasts with the environment or fits in with it.

Loyle offers us poetic, confessional hip-hop. His flow is monotone, honed. Sometimes it's sharp but calm, honest — which connects it to the rap of the 80s and 90s. What comes to mind is Erik B & Rakim — the same monotone style and profound eloquence. The other famous alternative is MF DOOM («That's That»). However, he reminds the listeners of all of these performers due to his delivery and the ability to put the words together. His delivery is much calmer. Sometimes, you can even forget that it's rap. The album contains touching tracks such as «Desoleil (Brilliant Corners)» which was produced with the soul musician Sampha, who won the Mercury Prize in 2017.

Needless to say, the main goal of the hip-hop performer is «changing the game», which means bringing something into the genre, something that can change it forever, to become a part of this genre which you love, in order to bring a small part of your personality to the table. It's hard to say if the young British performer has managed it or if he will be able to do it in the future. Even though we can point out the fact of an attempt here, it speaks a lot by itself.

However, his first release was a little bit closer to the boom-bap of the 90s with its straight and clear instrumental part. The album included more rhythmical rap tracks that we got used to liking «Ain't Nothing Changed» which was produced by Rebel Kleff. On this album, there is just one track featuring him, «You don't know», which is far more soul-like and not as impulsive.

Be that as it may, for a jazz fan, it won't be easy to get over the association with background jazz or «an elevator or lounge». It can be boring despite the variety of different samples, beats and structure, and a perfect work of talented producers: Jordan Rakei and Tom Misch (both are famous for jazz and soul releases respectively).

Sure, it's not Madlib with his masterpiece compilation of jazz remixes «Shades of Blue» (2003). By the way, Madlib's album has a lot in common with «Not Waving, but Drowning» even the motive with a call recording and conversation with friends that begins and closes Loyle's tracks.

There's not enough angriness and experimentation. After all even «Angel» and «Looking Back» could only win if they used a brighter delivery. I'm sure that such a talented musician could be much more interesting if he could find a way to express himself. This lounge-style makes you bored. You stop listening to his speech which is the main thing that is worth listening to on this album.


Anton Valsky
translated by Nick Brandin
edited by Eleonora Kap
APOLLO BROWN
ANTON VALSKY
Katherine Gorina
RECURRING DECIMAL
Apollo Brown has been on the hip hop scene since the 90s, yet somehow he hasn't got wide recognition nor wild fame. Erik Stephens is a talented beatmaker, but he's probably most widely known for only one of his albums, «Clouds» (2011), and not even the whole thing, but only a few of tracks from there ‒ «Never in a million years» and «Choices».


On Wikipedia, the article about him exists only in French; the English one just sparingly covers his discography. «Why should we listen to some old guy from the beginning of 2000?», you might ask. Well, the answer is because his latest album, «Sincerely, Detroit» showcases a cross section of Detroit hip hop culture where, in addition to Erik, you can find quite a few musicians of varying importance.


Detroit is just as relevant for the modern culture as Liverpool is: the city that gave us not only The Beatles, but beat music in general; or as Seattle, the birthplace of grunge. Detroit is the home not just for techno which you couldn't have missed! (The «Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit» album, is where the name of the genre comes from), but also for hardcore punk and Midwestern hip hop. Once upon a time, MC5 with Iggy & the Stooges inhabited the city: they actually inspired the punk movement.


Both Liverpool and Seattle used to have many musicians that you probably haven't even heard of. Now, Detroit is filled with its own unknown artists. While Liverpool and Seattle music has rather died out, the Detroit underground scene still delivers some things special. «Sincerely, Detroit» is a collection of the current music scene (more than 50 artists took part in its creation) ‒ or a tribute to the city, if you prefer: from hardcore rap like Jedi Mind Tricks in «Oh Lord» to R'n'B and even soul in «Break the Code» or «In the Water».


The album fully demonstrates Apollo Brown's producing skills, it softly echoes boom bap; it is somewhat inhomogeneous, but it is not as harsh, all of the tracks connect to each other in a cohesive manner. Tracks change each other for 80 minutes straight, but the general feeling stays the same ‒ which is incredibly cool. The lyrics are, as usual, about the troubles and tribulations of life, yet each artist gave it its own flavor.


A word for beat maker's skills. The instrumental part is up there alongside with RZA and Madlib. Apollo Brown's style is instantly recognizable: soft whirring of vinyl, jazz, deep and muted bass notes, smooth percussions, speech records from the olden times, a couple of simple tunes and nostalgia ‒ in short, all the things that would turn it into boring low-fi hip hop if it's been done wrong. Nowadays, anyone can arrange music samples: even smartphones have tons of apps that do just that. Which is why it's so precious to find a great beat maker among the endless number of musicians.

Anton Valsky
translated by Marina Bazarnaya
edited by Eleonora Kap
HOLY √MOTORS COLLABORATION
Apollo Brown happens to be one of the most productive and gifted hip-hop producers today! He is known for being a true Luddite when it comes to music.

In his new album «Sincerely, Detroit», he puts together about 50 Detroit-based musicians: from Black Milk to Guilty Simpson; and from Royce da 5'9 to Crown Nation and many others as well. This is all used to record a love letter to Motor City. A love letter which is 21 songs long.

There are not as many cities that mean as much to art history as Detroit does.
Once a great city, Detroit gave us techno and truly unique hip-hop and R&B waves. Thus, it still remains great in some way.
Detroit symbolizes the «Founding Fathers» of techno: Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Eminem, Kid Rock, J Dilla — only to name a few.
This is 8 mile and The Wrestler; RoboCop and Only Lovers Left Alive.
Last but not least, this is Motown Records — a label which brought soul to the whole new level as well discovered artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Diana Ross.

Detroit is very specific when it comes to sound. It is an easily recognizable style, one both gloomy and sensual; melancholic and vibrant.

This is full of nuances and details analog sound which unifies the entire album. Despite being densely populated, Sincerely, Detroit is really pleasant-sounding: with everything in its place and everyone entering and leaving the stage exactly at the right moment.

Freshmen and living legends, celebrities and underdogs taking turns, telling their own stories and the tales of the town. Some are bold («Deception & Woes»), some are full of grief and despair («Oh Lord»).

Right after the nostalgic 80s-like scratching, comes brutal rapping mixed with a magnetic female vocal («Break The Code», Supa Emcee feat. Kuniva, & Alexis Allon)

This is a common story for Sincerely, Detroit — to have more than two artists recording one track together. There are even four in the uplifting «Stopwatch», and that's not all.

Be that as it may, the entire album is shown as a single entity.

This is due to Brown's talent and professionalism that keeps the structure from falling apart, by providing it with mesmerizing integrity and confidence.

It is easy to see that this music is not just about talent and professionalism, but something way more than that.


Katherine Gorina
edited by Eleonora Kap
RECURRING DECIMAL
Apollo Brown has been on the hip hop scene since the 90s, yet somehow he hasn't got wide recognition nor wild fame. Erik Stephens is a talented beatmaker, but he's probably most widely known for only one of his albums, «Clouds» (2011), and not even the whole thing, but only a few of tracks from there ‒ «Never in a million years» and «Choices».


On Wikipedia, the article about him exists only in French; the English one just sparingly covers his discography. «Why should we listen to some old guy from the beginning of 2000?», you might ask. Well, the answer is because his latest album, «Sincerely, Detroit» showcases a cross section of Detroit hip hop culture where, in addition to Erik, you can find quite a few musicians of varying importance.


Detroit is just as relevant for the modern culture as Liverpool is: the city that gave us not only The Beatles, but beat music in general; or as Seattle, the birthplace of grunge. Detroit is the home not just for techno which you couldn't have missed! (The «Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit» album, is where the name of the genre comes from), but also for hardcore punk and Midwestern hip hop. Once upon a time, MC5 with Iggy & the Stooges inhabited the city: they actually inspired the punk movement.


Both Liverpool and Seattle used to have many musicians that you probably haven't even heard of. Now, Detroit is filled with its own unknown artists. While Liverpool and Seattle music has rather died out, the Detroit underground scene still delivers some things special. «Sincerely, Detroit» is a collection of the current music scene (more than 50 artists took part in its creation) ‒ or a tribute to the city, if you prefer: from hardcore rap like Jedi Mind Tricks in «Oh Lord» to R'n'B and even soul in «Break the Code» or «In the Water».


The album fully demonstrates Apollo Brown's producing skills, it softly echoes boom bap; it is somewhat inhomogeneous, but it is not as harsh, all of the tracks connect to each other in a cohesive manner. Tracks change each other for 80 minutes straight, but the general feeling stays the same ‒ which is incredibly cool. The lyrics are, as usual, about the troubles and tribulations of life, yet each artist gave it its own flavor.


A word for beat maker's skills. The instrumental part is up there alongside with RZA and Madlib. Apollo Brown's style is instantly recognizable: soft whirring of vinyl, jazz, deep and muted bass notes, smooth percussions, speech records from the olden times, a couple of simple tunes and nostalgia ‒ in short, all the things that would turn it into boring low-fi hip hop if it's been done wrong. Nowadays, anyone can arrange music samples: even smartphones have tons of apps that do just that. Which is why it's so precious to find a great beat maker among the endless number of musicians.

Anton Valskytranslated by Marina Bazarnaya
HOLY √MOTORS COLLABORATION
Apollo Brown happens to be one of the most productive and gifted hip-hop producers today! He is known for being a true Luddite when it comes to music.

In his new album «Sincerely, Detroit», he puts together about 50 Detroit-based musicians: from Black Milk to Guilty Simpson; and from Royce da 5'9 to Crown Nation and many others as well. This is all used to record a love letter to Motor City. A love letter which is 21 songs long.

There are not as many cities that mean as much to art history as Detroit does.
Once a great city, Detroit gave us techno and truly unique hip-hop and R&B waves. Thus, it still remains great in some way.
Detroit symbolizes the «Founding Fathers» of techno: Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Eminem, Kid Rock, J Dilla — only to name a few.
This is 8 mile and The Wrestler; RoboCop and Only Lovers Left Alive.
Last but not least, this is Motown Records — a label which brought soul to the whole new level as well discovered artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Diana Ross.

Detroit is very specific when it comes to sound. It is an easily recognizable style, one both gloomy and sensual; melancholic and vibrant.

This is full of nuances and details analog sound which unifies the entire album. Despite being densely populated, Sincerely, Detroit is really pleasant-sounding: with everything in its place and everyone entering and leaving the stage exactly at the right moment.

Freshmen and living legends, celebrities and underdogs taking turns, telling their own stories and the tales of the town. Some are bold («Deception & Woes»), some are full of grief and despair («Oh Lord»).

Right after the nostalgic 80s-like scratching, comes brutal rapping mixed with a magnetic female vocal («Break The Code», Supa Emcee feat. Kuniva, & Alexis Allon)

This is a common story for Sincerely, Detroit — to have more than two artists recording one track together. There are even four in the uplifting «Stopwatch», and that's not all.

Be that as it may, the entire album is shown as a single entity.

This is due to Brown's talent and professionalism that keeps the structure from falling apart, by providing it with mesmerizing integrity and confidence.

It is easy to see that this music is not just about talent and professionalism, but something way more than that.


Katherine Gorina
edited by Eleonora Kap
FASHION
OPEN SET
(Katherine Gorina)
The Fashion Month left us with an unanswered question: why is all that we see on the streets 90% hypebeasts brands, such as Off-White, Vetements, and Gucci?
This is not just Moscow and St. Petersburg: even in New York, everyone was looking as if he or she just went out to get bread from the shop around the corner. Every other person with their Pouch by Bottega Veneta in hand (now officially known as the Ugliest Bag in the History Of Bags).
While in New York no one even bothers, in London people do make a little effort to look classy, but minimal enough to not look overdressed. At the same time in Moscow, you can immediately see how hard everyone is striving to be real fashionistas, kings of the hill.

There is nothing worse in this world than street style gallery from Moscow Fashion Week. Everyone wears ugly shoes and giant overcoats, fancy, eraser-wide sunglasses, and the resting bitch face. It seems that people here dress up not to rejoice, but to broadcast some extremely vague culture code via their own look.

While Moscow is all about logomania, where a cut is nothing, a brand is everything, St. Petersburg follows the Nordic pattern in its aristocratic disrespect to both labels and looks.

This is the freedom, the imagination and the pursuit of pleasure that lies at the heart of any individual style. The key issue of both Moscow and St. Petersburg street-style is that it is being used not for pleasure but for the class status declaration. Only the class status here is represented in two different ways: in Moscow to postulate it, you have to tell the whole world, which brands you can afford. In St. Petersburg, it's vice versa, the most important thing is to show everyone, how neglectful you are. How deeply you do not pay attention to your own style. What could match this goal better, than some grandma's cardigan and your father's old working shoes?

Here we face a second issue: since the idea of authenticity is by definition extremely vulnerable to speculation, it is already hypothetically misrepresented even when it draws the first breath. When it comes to logomania, this idea is pretty easy to upset — after all, this is what the whole knock-off industry lives by. Lives so successfully, that the line between the real product and its copy went to pure abstraction. In case of intentional modesty, we see the pattern way being more complex.

Trying to prove how little you care about your look in general and its brand identity in particular, you can go two ways (since normcore is no longer an option): you can dig through your grandma's attic or raid a charity shop and actually go out wearing a dress just a couple of years younger than yourself. Or you can turn to one of the many «vintage boutiques» that resell the same second-hand clothes just with a margin from 200 to 500 percent.

It may seem there is nothing wrong about it, but, such a lead-up destroys the very trial results.

In the hunt for authenticity, a new, perverted message appears. There is a fundamental difference between picking up an outfit at a real garage sale on your own, and between buying fancy vintage dresses that have already been specially selected, ironed and steamed on hangers in central boutiques pointing out and trading on the very idea of «individuality». Moreover, it was never the case: what individuality can you speak about, if there are literally clothes which have already been worn before you?

If you really care about these things enough to show the entire world how genuine your unconcern is, it is unwise to pay twice. Because if you really do not care, you just get a blank T-shirt to wear with plain jeans. But, remember? Normcore is no longer an option too.

From this perspective, the Moscow-style posturing looks almost sincerely even. Though, of course, it has nothing to with fashion per se: even Balenciaga has ravishing outfits.

Just not those with the logo being repeated twenty times on the front.

But that will be a whole different story.


Katherine Gorina
edited by Eleonora Kap
VULGAR FRACTION
(Masha Valmus)

Sometimes you wake up in the morning and feel like just wearing a regular T-shirt, a regular hoodie. And this is nice, it has a message. But are there people who really think that daily wear is a T-shirt with the Balenciaga logo? I believe if someone is wearing Balenciaga he's doing it to feel special, «I want simplicity, and that's simplicity for me, it's a special, luxurious simplicity». Brand-name clothes are indeed special, but this creates the dissonance between what you expect from a brand and what the brand actually produces.

One of the runway tendencies that I'm thrilled about is diversity, such as Fenty x Rihanna. But this is nothing like hollow Paris-fashion-style at all; Saint Laurent's low-rise denim knee-breeches from the last show is not about praising beautiful body, but the bad cut. The breeches make the runway model's legs look short and fat. What, pardon me, would they do to a regular person's legs who doesn't survive only on apples for two weeks? If you look at Paris, it is like a ballet school: it implies a rigorous selection of models, designers, show venues. It is most scrupulous with its models; for example, I haven't been sent to Paris because I was too fat to even get a casting call. So I was sent to Milan. At the agency, there were girls with 92 cm (36.2 inch) thighs, and they weren't even allowed to a model casting. They were like caged animals, «You are not even allowed to be looked at». The difference between fashion weeks is mostly cultural; in this sense, the US is more advanced, you'd see a lot more non-typical models at the New York show, for example. Let's say a well-known designer brings an oversize model or a model with a leg prosthetic — that sends a very good message. But I have yet to see them wearing clothes that don't scream «I am a freak». These few shows are ostentatious: «Look how advanced we are».

I prefer Dior's policy. If we compare the Dior and Saint Laurent latest shows, the former is much more engaging. At the Saint Laurent show, we see five models wearing these denim knee-breeches and some kind of black blazer. One has a velvet blazer, another a sequined blazer, and yet another one has a plaid tweed blazer. That's your new collection, is it? And then there's Dior, presenting their dresses that everyone, me included, is sick of. And yet, truth be told, these are the dresses I would love to get married in. Dior skilfully reinterprets the 1950s silhouette; it's a good example of the revitalization of an old look. They are still changing the design: it looks like the same outfit, but the fabrics, the cuts are different… Around 2016 we had sheer dresses with corsets, and the same thing this year, but with denser fabrics. Skirts have different cuts, different lengths. New accessories.

My attitude towards Versace is special. The brand doesn't portray itself as «ugly fashion», of course. It's not ugly, they sincerely believe their clothes are pretty. So do the people who wear these bomber jackets, black with a golden pattern… We can trash any show, of course. Or we can say «it was the designer's intention», that he had some sort of idea in mind. For me, what we see here is tastelessness that stays afloat only because people know a Top 5 brands, and Versace is one of them. When I hear «Versace», the thing which first comes to my mind isn't one of the few pretty nice things they made, but the patterned bomber jacket with chains. When I mention Dolce & Gabbana? Dolce & Gabbana do have good stuff as well, and I instantly imagine their ridiculous chick with a crown. And I lose the desire to say anything good at all — every year they make this crown!


T-shirts with a logo, repetitive of themselves and «trash» — these are the trends I see «on the runway». The bid for «iconic simplicity» turns out to just be an oversimplification. Why would they make something pretty if they can make the logo-ed T-shirt? Same thing with the cuts. Yes, «there's nothing new under the sun», but it seems some designers have been «re-interpreting» to the point of exhaustion and confusion and so they apparently decided to not bother at all. Brands work for clients and sales, and not for the sake of art. Producing hackneyed, well-recognized, and, as a result, easily sold clothes, is a tried and true way to make a pretty penny without losing face or putting in too much effort.


Masha Valmus
translated by Marina Bazarnaya
edited by Meighan Winner
PHILOSOPHY
PERMISSIBLE VALUES
Look: I'm speaking plainly to you. I'm saying what I mean and I mean what I say. I'm sincere in what I say. Or at least I'm saying (sincerely?) that I am sincere in what I say.

First of all, sincerity is different than honesty. Both seem to be related to the things that are said and to those saying them, but each has a different use. I may say a true statement (or speak honestly) but be insincere (joking, ironic, sarcastic, «messing around», etc). I may say a false statement but be perfectly sincere. If George believes that the world is flat and says so, despite his sincerity, the earth will remain round. It doesn't seem, however, that I may intentionally lie and be sincere: Deception, or rather intent to deceive, and sincerity exclude one another. Here, then, is our first hint as to what sincerity is: In it is an element of accuracy of the speaker's internal relation to what she says and to those to whom she is speaking. To speak honestly is to say something true and to simultaneously believe that what one says is true. However, to speak sincerely involves one in a certain relation to oneself and to those to whom one is speaking. The latter point is vital: One may say something honestly to no one; one speaks sincerely to, or rather before, someone, even if that someone is only oneself. Sincerity is social.

Sincerity then is somehow found in the speaker relation to those being addressed: It is an implicit rule of the social game we play that what we say is, except in specific circumstances, to be taken as sincere.

Can one sincerely say something one doesn't understand? Or sincerely believe something one doesn't understand? It seems so: Andrea may sincerely believe in God but not really understand what it is that she says when she says, «I believe in God». However, one might object, if Andrea did not understand what God meant, then Andrea doesn't sincerely believe in God at all: She sincerely believes in something else—say, a bearded man with magical powers who lives on the moon. Sincerity, one might say, requires a threshold of knowledge about what one affirms. Even so, this would be to mistake the sort of thing that sincerity is. Sincerity is a social relation, asserted explicitly or implicitly by a speaker alongside what she says before whatever audience she has, not a claim about the truth-value of a sincere belief.

Sincerity's sociality means that it can concern an action other than direct communication. Honesty only concerns the truth value of a speech act and the speaker's belief about it. Sincerity, however, is different. I can be sincere in something which has merely any communicative intention. One can be sincere in a desire, for example, or in belief or political activity: None of these types of characteristics/activities can be reduced to any communicative acts in which they are manifested.

In Book IV of the «Nicomachean Ethics» Aristotle discusses sincerity as the virtue situated between the extremes of boastfulness and self-deprecation. Here then is another clue as to what sincerity is: It is a sort of virtue, a desirable trait of character, which one, to act rightly, should somehow cultivate within oneself. Also, it's furthermore along the lines of an accurate estimation of oneself and an accurate representation of this self-estimation before others.

One might say this is immediately impossible: I cannot, or at least, in fact, do not really know myself enough to accurately understand my place in the world or accurately represent that before others. However, this misses the crucial point — sincerity does not require full knowledge, either of its object or of its possessor. Andrea does not understand God but sincerely believes in him. Believer and indulgent atheist would both admit that — whether the concept «God» obtains or not — it means, or at least intends to mean, something other than Space Gandalf. The sincerity of a statement or belief need not be based on full knowledge of the object of the statement or belief — much less on full self-knowledge. It is based on a volitional act

— or rather intentional, repeated action — with the aim of an accurate representation of oneself and the content of one's thought before others.

Let's revise: Sincerity is a virtue — a firm character trait brought about by repeated intentional action towards its achievement — of accurately and honestly representing oneself, including one's action and thought, before others, insofar as one believes one has an accurate and honest representation of oneself, implicitly or explicitly. It is not trivial that we include a measured or «under the best available information» belief in having an accurate and honest representation of oneself as a requirement of sincerity, rather than just having such a representation. Sincerity is, as the opponent of sincerity intuits, related to knowledge — but only the immediate intuitive awareness of one's having a belief in possessing an all-things-considered honest self-representation.

Sincerity has to be seen as a constantly developing rule directing action towards its own progressive achievement, rather than an already fully possessed property of a subject or statement. It is a rule, in the sense that it provides a normative standard, and developing, in the sense that its achievement or realization is not separable from its regulative function in human conduct, posited by its being lived out. In this way, sincerity approaches a «form of life» as described by Agamben — a rule for conduct that is equally a practice expressing and giving rise to its rule.


Anthony Stoner

OUTLIER VALUES
In any context, the word «sincerity» can only be an interpretation of something that is already done or said. Appeal to sincerity can be made both for justification and accusation in legal or ethical terms. Actually, a «sincere» murderer always appears as more disgusting, and his actions look even more unacceptable if they were committed according to the criminal's good will. The same applies to any ethical trial: in the analysis of any act, talk of concerning an actor's sincerity and purity of intent occupies the central position.

It seems that we face here something that is not really obvious, we face something that demands a special parsing. What is the reason to consider a planned, prepared crime, like the one that Raskolnikov (the character of Dostoevsky's «Crime and Punishment») committed, as more vile and dangerous for the society than an offense, that was done in a state of passion; why do judge or jury have to take into account the attitude of a criminal to the action committed? One can argue that it is peculiar to people to think similar thoughts and to perform similar actions as before, so that's why cold-blooded, so to speak, sincere crime deserves more severe punishment. But it is completely unclear what prevents anyone who robbed a shop while drunk or clobbered his wife in an impulse of fury from doing the same thing over and over even after repentance. Categories of forethought and sincerity appear as a mysterious aspect of both our legal practice and our everyday, private life.

Making a decision on the sincerity of action always lies on the conscience of its interpreters: judge, «society», or two friends, discussing a third one. The sincerity of action never can be found in the same plane as the action itself, and that is something that imparts ambiguity to the whole picture. Moreover, there is an impassable abyss between these two planes, so we need the work of interpreters to make them coincide, to seal an action with sincerity, forethought, intention. Something paradoxical happens here: the concept that contains pure subjectivity by definition always becomes external for the actor itself. Looks like sincerity is an attribute that has to be assigned by someone.

Here we face the fact that we never have enough reasons to declare any actor or action as a sincere one. Today we can frequently hear how sincerity becomes a crucial criterion of appreciation, in regard to works of art or literature, for example. Definitely, speaking of judgment, of expression of opinion, we can never demand «objectivity», but there is a huge difference between judgments «I like this poem» and «this is a sincere poem». In the first case, we speak for ourselves, the speaker himself clarifies an attitude between him or her and the object, poem in our case. However, speaking of sincerity we inevitably start to violate the borders, we leave the attitude between ourselves and the object and enter attitude author-work, actor-action. We never have a reason for such cheating with the point of view.

Returning to the legal sphere, it appears that when the judge or jury makes a decision, paying attention to motives of a crime, they cheat, changing the attitude between the criminal and his own action with their own attitude to his or her action. So, the life of a person locates in an area of pure decision, that can not be made according to reason, to a rational basis. The judge has to make a decision that could never be right, all that he or she can do is to try to guess the correct attitude of a criminal to the crime, not paying attention to criminal's current words, as repentance can always be fake, insincere. As we know, only God can judge our thoughts and only he can aware, were our actions and words sincere or not.

But we have to let God mind his own business. If we want to leave in a world, arranged according to our own possibilities, in Kant's words, to «have the courage to use our own understanding», the first thing we have to vacate is the category of sincerity. We have to stop waving off and apologize, to shift responsibility to the circumstances which are always set in such a way, that one can never do something he really wants to. Usually, an appeal to sincerity is used by someone, who tries to justify her or himself: to say both «you can dislike this poem, but it is a sincere one» and «I did a wrong thing, but I didn't want to» means to make the same operation — to refer to aught that can never be proved or contradicted, to lead the discussion to a standstill. Again, let the God, if He suddenly exists, judge us as we really are, but here, in our world, we have exile his phantoms (and the category of sincerity is a phantom of the divine in our world) from any storeroom, where they have managed to hide.

Only in the case that we stop waving off from ourselves, we will be able to perform actions which will be much more valuable, because from the very beginning we knew, that we will be unable to refer to «actually, I didn't want to».


Georgy Lajus
edited by Anthony Stoner
COMEDIANS

SIMULTANEOUS EQUATIONS
Remember that time, the 2000's, when one could at any time write on the topic of metamodernism or simply about cultural cross-sections in order to have a bunch of likes and awards for keeping up with the times? How glorious a time it was, however, it may be good, that it's gone.

Stand-up, as a genre, doesn't bring to the table anything completely new unless it intentionally refuses most of the tools that have been used by cartoon or sitcom. One expresses his thoughts as soon as it comes to mind, without overthinking the framework of a decent and permitted individual.


At the heart of the comedy, the genre is a classic remittance of the audience to the overall experience and, further, to the recognition or the surprise. Despite any way that you look at it, Aristotle, was right, and the Chinese people have a funny emphasis.

However, over the past half-century, the genre grew up: from parody to the manner of driving women or blacks we came to the reflections of the artist about the boundaries of the genre, the nature of sadness and fun.


The format of a successful stand-up, is either an hour or five-minutes long, it is built on the sense of the viewers presumption. A comedian knows how the public will react to one or another part of his speech. It is simple for the comedian to understand, if this joke will call for the viewer's laughter or not. It floods into more complex things, like peculiar mini-golf, in which the ball is a spectator, and causes bizarre bumping onto various emotions. Doug Stanhope proves the existence of life after death and for ten minutes tells the story about how he did the euthanase of his emphysemic mother, and then it turns out to be a set-up for a punchline on how he bought things on her credit card after she died. Not the emotions themselves, but the transitions between them are the exciting part here. At the very beginning, Stand-Up Comedy was used just to cause laughter, later its purpose was the other emotions and feelings: social discontent, sadness, self-doubt. Then the palette of emotions became varied, the transitions between elements were added. Important to understand, the genre didn't refuse methods, designed during previous stages (which are quite conditional actually). It developed by accumulating the methods and moving the accents to the new ones. Not that long ago, when the genre became more complicated, it was dealing with easier problems. Such as: searching for the boundaries of the permitted humor, defeating from the police of liberal morals by jokes about 9/11 and rape. However, one can already see how gradually one outgrew this level as well. Gradually, irony becomes less apparent and to stay relevant, it has to be funny and sincere at the same time. Previously, the comedian made faces and depicted accents. After about 20-30 years, the reality around the genre requires from it both: jokes and honesty. Now, it has to be sincere speaking ironically. Well, and here is metamodernism. If the writers' fear at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries is a fear of seeming vulgar and dumb, then the comedian is more than anything, afraid of being not funny enough. Having an end-goal to show their uniqueness, they are afraid to be worse than the people before them. That's warranted: comedians before would just make jokes, and their only goal was to be as funny as possible. To consider the public's presumption regarding jokes on taboo topics, is easier than embedding one's own identity in the perception of an audience that is brought up on completely different humor.


The new comedy is reflective and sadder in general. For an artist to pretend being deep, is basically the same as to walk on very thin ice, beneath which you can find vulgarity and fancy sincerity. In fact, the point is only whether the artist is funny or not in the broad sense of the word, whether the angle from which he or she looks at the world is interesting, or whether he or she is able to tell the viewer what the viewer always knows and feels.


Arkady Tkhorov
translated by Verena Podolsky
edited by Eleonora Kap
LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR
A Growing Level Of Human Vulnerability In Comedy Introduces Sincerity to The Comedy World

When many think of the state of comedy, fart, dick, sex, and pussy jokes come to mind immediately and you can't blame them. The moment the idea of going to a comedy club or seeing a comedy film is introduced to someone, the idea of going to a comedy club or seeing a comedy film arouses nothing but preconceived notions of the thousands of low-brow sex jokes that comedians have been spouting the late 1960s. Those expectations are often met, comedians are still graphically honest about sex, but in a different way — they are starting to be sincere.

Take, for example, Drew Micheal's 2018 HBO special, which essentially breaks comedy down to its core by eliminating the audience. The special shows the comedian surrounded by blackness, pacing around frantically while spurting a stream of consciousness for 51 minutes. There is no reaction, it is just the material.

The entire special feels less like a comedy special and more like a darkly hilarious therapy session in which you're the therapist but your patient isn't giving you a chance to respond to the thoughts they bombarding you with.

Of course, just like any other comedy special, everything is still jokes. What's unique about this special is that it takes away the audience, showing that the laughter after each punchline is the only thing keeping a comedian from exposing how vulnerable they're really being. Hearing each bit without the delivery being performed around uproarious laughter, without the usual uproarious laughter following every joke, it is Drew Michael's sincerity that draws all the attention...

It's shocking to hear these bits as sincere, but they're making a clear point. For one bit, he jokes about committing suicide in a way so funny that people would praise him for it. He uses the example of shooting yourself before going down a waterslide. The joke, though crass, uses humor to exemplify empathy for those who might be suicidal. The comedy is deeper than you think, and the sincerity is hidden behind the lines of offensive dialogue.

Drew Micheal's 2018 HBO Special is unlike any other special out there, but it has a similar underlying message. Throughout the special we see small clips, showing a woman's face in the frame, talking to Drew, each clip slowly showing how their relationship develops, and then as the special comes to an end, deteriorates. The special's conclusion, while not outwardly hilarious like most specials, is hilarious in its own way. Most comedians conclude their specials with what they call, «the closer», which is typically the «funniest» joke they have in their set, usually referring to a previous joke, to add theatrical value to the tone and voice of their set. Drew Micheal takes a different approach, he goes on a rant about vulnerability and suddenly as if she was watching, his girlfriend walks into frame and gives one of the most beautiful endings of a comedy special one could imagine. As a comedian myself, I say this snippet of dialogue hits home.

That might be the funniest thing you've ever said. You think this is honest? Honesty is like being open and vulnerable it's not just standing in front of everyone and telling them you fucking suck. Fuck off dude, like get the fuck over yourself. It's fucking boring like we all feel this shit we don't need a big song and dance about it. You've constructed a way to never change and they're not even fucking jokes, it's not even fucking jokes. It's just you talking about your problems, none of this has been funny, it's just you masturbating in front of everyone… I know you think someone out there, your're helping them and maybe someone will connect to your problems but that's not why you do it, is it? You do it for their validation, just like all of your relationships, you come in here you say whatever the fuck you want, and you fucking leave, like a fucking pussy.

She walks away, leaving Drew standing there, looking outward, soft music begins to play, and the special comes to an end with what might be the most sincere moment in the history of comedy.

Griffin Constant
edited by Rita Bleier
CINEMA
New York stories — the perfect balance between Allen's salty and Allen's syrupy.

Woody Allen made another comedy flick about love in New York. «A Rainy Day in New York» was released with a one year delay because of the harassment accusations initiated by #metoo movement, in which the director has been implicated, based on accusations made in the 90s that he raped his stepdaughter. Following the resurgence of the allegations, the studio broke their contract with Allen and refused to release the movie in the USA, and actors, in their turn, donated their earnings from the picture to various charity organizations. The director got rights — and consequently, released the movie — a whole year after the production wrapped.

The distinctive plot follows two characters — a conventional bored intellectual Gatsby (Timothée Chalamet) and his naive girlfriend Ashleigh (Elle Fanning). They start off by going on a trip from their prestigious college to Manhattan. Ashleigh got an interview with a famous director (Liev Schreiber), and Gatsby wants to spend a perfect weekend with his beloved in his hometown. As usual with Allen, New York has its special plan for them, and both end up in their own chain of events: Ashleigh spends the day with Hollywood celebrities, each of whom hits on her, just as we'd expect. Gatsby meets his ex's annoying younger sister (Selena Gomez) and sees his own relatives, who he's been painstakingly avoiding.

With amazing regularity — once a year — Woody Allen releases cute romantic comedies with jokes about Jews, sex, relationships, and Marxism, filled with familiar situations that make his movies feel like an endless sitcom. As opposed to earlier films, which felt like long, weird, sharp-witted stand-up routines, in this film Woody channels his voice through almost all of the characters, creating a picture full of his presence. And yet the characters basically channel him, so even with him off-screen the film is full of his presence.

It starts with a simple title and old-fashioned jazz music that instantly creates the atmosphere of a humorous fairy tale of white princes and princesses with nothing unexpected insight. It dissolves into soft shine, the light of the golden hour, unreal rain that can be interpreted as a metaphor of a sanctuary search. The mandatory humor (yes!), the troubles of bougie bohemian life, unobtrusive love affairs; fleeting, safe adventures coming one after the other only to deliver more opportunities for cute jokes and ridiculous situations that will be resolved, and characters who will definitely find true love (ironically or not).

Let's be frank — Woody is like an aging rock star who's been shooting in the same style for ages, albeit skillfully. Try as you might, you won't find a new spin or idea in this film, which strays very little from the rest of his body of work. It's hard to believe he creates art within this one archetype only for money or glory. If you're used to playing rock-n-roll (making romantic comedies) that make you and your fans happy, you'd hardly want to do anything else.

One thing that I find baffling is the «anachronisms». For example, his character uses a smartphone, which feels weird because it's too hard to believe the action takes place in modern times. The romance, the stapled, dramatic characters, the definite and easily deductible finale — it's all too fairy-tale-ish, unreal. And yet, surprisingly, it does not read as nostalgic: it's as if Allen exists in another universe. His last couple of films — «Café Society» (2016) and «Wonder Wheel» (2017) might have been off the mark as well in portraying the era (30-s and 50-s), but how could you tell? Woody Allen does not try to be progressive: he is deliberately stuck in the past, just like his main character. The director mocks familiar rom-com tropes, and then uses the same tropes in another scene – and it's not post-irony. His jokes explore familiar topics. Even the situations Ashleigh finds herself in seem almost as if they've been lifted directly out of his old works. Yet the humor is different: it's less harsh, it does not ridicule or judge the characters. «A Rainy Day in New York» is a story for someone who finds themselves in the mood for a marvelous, self-deprecating, yet familiar and light-hearted rom-com flick.


Anton Valsky
translated by Marina Bazarnaya
edited by Rita Bleier
SECANT
Q&Q
Meet The YD, French electronic duo. Yoshi used to play keyboard for Stromae, and Dacou has a music project Tschegue. Having worked together for about 10 years already, in 2018 they released their first EP called «Earth Beat», and a year after – another one, «Master Peace». Which definitely lives up to its name.

What The YD do, lies between French indie pop, seasoned with an R&B-groove, and Metronomy-like new wave. This is not just tender yet filigree sound what they have in common with the latter, but also the fact that they do write namely songs, not tracks. Despite all the diversity of the solutions, which are pure electronic, and being more or less made for dance, everything The YD does is about songwriting and melody in the first place.

"Hunter" from the first EP, with its surprisingly delicate organ sound and blue synths, with a rich yet flawlessly balanced arrangement, with its incredible lyrics looks just like the perfect song should look like.

Witty, but deceiving in its lightness, «Hard Life»; sensual «Heaven»; «Hoping» – almost ethnic, built on complex percussion – all of these are examples of how you can use all the sound tools not at the expense of the melody and the idea of the song, but rather, giving it additional meanings.

Relistening both EP-s while waiting for the full album to come out, The Swings interviewed the duo.


Katherine Gorina
translated by Nick Brandin
edited by Eleonora Kap

TANGENT EQUATION
You have worked together for a long time already. Does your personal life influence your working process? How do you equally split the work so that both sides of the duo feel it is fair?
Yeah, we've been working together for about 10 years now. We actually made a production studio in Paris, where we work on everything we do. We both have very active lives so we simply let ourselves free when we work. No rules, no planning. Musically, we have very different skills. Dakou specializes in beats and rhythms, and Yoshi is into instruments, harmony, and vocals. This huge difference makes us very compatible and helps us complement each other. For us, being a duo, means that two different people become one.

What do you think about the current state of electronic music in France right now, what do you think about its perspectives?
For years, French electronic music has raised a lot of hype and now has a real reputation. Thanks to projects like daft punk, main historical DJ's like Laurent Garnier, and more recently with Guetta or Snake, it became huge in a mainstream way. It's great because there really is sound and emotion in the way that French people create electronic music and the world seems to feel it. We like the project called the blaze a lot. It is a perfect example of the balance between efficient electronic music, emotion, and high-level creativity in video and esthetic.

How do you see the artist's role in the world? What is the main goal?
Human history has always been built through art. Art is everywhere. In every civilization and in every human. We don't know if every artist has the same goals, but art is definitely the way of expression for artists, and our goal is to put emotion into what we create and hope that people can feel it
The idea first came with the soft synth of the beginning of the song and the vocal followed directly. So, the first inspiration was very fast, but in the end, it's probably the song that took us the longest time to finalize.

How do you define «success» in music?
Well, let's say that in the music industry, you are successful when you sell records and stream a lot. For us, The YD is an adventure. We are very thankful for being able to make this project together, like brothers. That is definitely our success.

Which events in your life influenced your choice of career? If you weren't making music, what would you do?

It's probably a little bit of everything. Music is something that we had inside of us from our youngest times and we just jumped into it. There is always this moment when before being a musician, you just decide that you want to take this risk and you just go for it. And we love so many things in life that we would have loved to do many different things. Besides being a musician, we actually started our production, artist management and publishing company called «Premier Sous-Sol». It's still an art, but it is a brand new adventure for us and we are very proud of it and happy about it.

What's your favorite piece on both EP's and why?
We have something special with our song «Hoping». Probably because it was the first. We also like the emotion that we were able to put in it. We did it in one day!

The video for «Hard Life» is delightful, and in some moments its aesthetic reminds me both of Metronomy's «Thing for me», and «8 femmes». Was that on purpose? Which pieces of art give/gave you the most inspiration?
Thanks so much for the beautiful references. However, it was not on purpose. The idea first came by a film directors duo called «Global». Then we worked on it together. We like Wes Anderson a lot and we wanted something a bit quirky but still realistic and aesthetic, but not pretentious.

But, of course, there is definitely a Metronomy reference in the song (smile).

If you had a time machine, where would you travel first and why?
We would like to go far in the past when nature was just created and perfect and then we would go far in the future to make sure that this nature survived us and is doing ok.

Which question do you always wish to hear but no one has ever asked you?
Are you a couple?


Katherine Gorina
edited by Rita Bleier
BOXING > POETRY
Boxing is better than poetry. To begin with, both are very similar. Many phenomena are presented in the same proportions: the individual authorial style, the interaction of subjects, the creation of a certain system in order to violate it later, and having violated it, to stun.

The goal of poetry is to cause shock, lead to a catharsis. What could shock more than a knockout though? Both poetry and boxing combine great art but serve to amuse the crowd.

Both have a tendency towards greater freedom or independence from the existing norm on the established norm. Poetry and boxing have a dimension for self-development and contain a set for interaction in a dual system, a poet-reader or a fighter-fighter.

Alas, sharing a love for boxing with other people is much easier than sharing with them love for poetry. It is quite natural to gather two dozen boxers in one room. Doing so with poets would be insane.

Amazingly, poetry strives to build pyramidal hierarchies just as much as boxing, but without clear criteria for this: it fails at the very first attempts, which are endless, nervous and painful.

The aspiration to hierarchies in boxing, as in all kinds of sport, leads to the improvement of each and every person who is involved. Eventually, the same would be reached by an improvement of poetic language. But when it comes to the emotions a person will experience in the process of work, the author is unclear about their own place in poetry, and the reader feels uncertain of the adequacy of their own perception. The current state of affairs is a good illustration.

As mentioned already, both things exist in a one-dimensional space with a goal to a two-dimensional one.

When a boxer trains before a match or when a person works on a poem with a goal to be read, both of them work towards a two-dimensional expanse with a partner, an opponent or a reader.

But in boxing weakness and mistakes are always self-evident.

If we bring Kafka with his uncertainty in the value of his own creation into the position of a boxer, then instead of his letters, we'd receive several bodies.

If we bring to the boxing ring the feelings of the young Nabokov, whose first collection of poems failed, at the end he would have a broken nose and the resolve to become better, instead of offense and doubts in the worth of what he had done with great passion and love. Poetry loses all points of being on a naive and intermediate level. We can easily see this in the relations of everyone who has raised themselves (or thinks they have raised themselves) above these levels.

I saw the review of the main editor of a poetry journal on what were, by and large, obviously amateurish, pretentious, and weak poems. I was embarrassed: I couldn't imagine a boxing coach who would say to a newbie that boxing isn't for him and he should do something else.

Unfortunately, people who love boxing care much more often about getting others to love it, than those who love poetry. Few people reach a high level, but in the case of boxing, each individual makes a contribution. Meanwhile, the sanctuary of poetry is defended by a battalion of watchmen: all those philologists, editors, critics. They check passports, give verdicts, not always accurate or timely. At the same time, boxing effortlessly fights the decadence and becomes better on each of its levels.

Boxing is better than poetry, frankly. This explains intellectuals' desire to marginalize such pieces of culture which still do have life, aggression in them. From century to century, people of elitist culture aim at everything genuine and natural, denying in this their own culture as fake.

There is something ancient in poetry, from which it partially derives its strength.

But we talk about a sort of proto-human nature of boxing. It is hard to come up with anything more ancient than fighting and the demonstration of force.

Having as its goal the full realization of what is locked up in it, poetry goes further, more ancient, than is possible for it, and almost always fails. Therefore it envies everything archaic, instinctive, more deeply hidden. Sometimes it envies talentfully, therefore it's forgivable that most of the time it doesn't.


Arkady Tkhorov
translated with Verena Podolsky
edited by Anthony Stoner
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