Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

As I mentioned before, Johan Kugelberg is conflicted.  Take his distinction between fannish and sercon.  “Fannish means by and about fans and fandom.  Sercon means Serious and Constructive.”  As Johan notes in another essay, “It will come as no surprise that I vastly prefer the [fannish].”   I am not sure this holds up to scrutiny.  No doubt, Johan comes across as fannish in Brad Pitt’s Dog, but is that really who he is and where his strengths lie?  Surely it is more punk rock, more garage fuzz to be a fannish.  It is no doubt cooler in some respects due to its ironic stance.  The fan does not take his music, art, literature seriously.  Unfortunately Johan does.  And thank god he does, because Johan the Sercon is creating an incredible body of work that demands to be noticed.  Brad Pitt’s Dog is fun and a great read.  Beach reading for hipsters, but his books on the Velvet Underground and the Bronx hip-hop scene are major historical documents.  I would argue that it is in these books that Johan’s heart and soul really lie.  It is all well and good that Johan has a kick-ass garage rock 45 collection.  This stuff is great to throw on at dinner parties as guests enjoy their soft pretzels but what you can really sink your teeth into are the collections he has placed at Cornell University.  To get hip-hop culture into the university is a major accomplishment and majorly important.  See http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/hiphop/  To link the Velvet Underground to the New York art scene through contemporary material objects and documents and then to narrate that link in the form of a scholarly monograph is important.  See http://www.rizzoliusa.com/book.php?isbn=9780847830848  Johan has a hard on for the institutionalization of the culture of the margins.  Now I am not going to lie, I myself am conflicted about such a move.  I would suggest that Johan actually restricts access to his Bronx material by placing it at Cornell.  Sure, grad students can get into the rare book room and sample the samples but is that the best use of the material.  Is that really in the spirit of open source?   I am not even going to touch the economics of institutional placement for the collectible material, which again I am conflicted about.  Similarly, I am not so sure the gallery system is a great alternative either.  Johan has a love/hate relationship with online archives like YouTube, but maybe it is in disseminating his collections on the Net, by himself, on his own terms, DIY style that might be the most true to the material and the most true to what he proclaims as his fannish nature.  This is something to think about and I am sure Johan is thinking about it.  The bottom line is that Johan proclaims in Brad Pitt’s Dog that he is not a Sercon.  He protests too much.  I would not take him seriously.



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