in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked

Monday, February 12, 2007

Fuck my pigeonhole (animal, vegetable, or mnml?)

‘Pigeonhole’ is the C-word in the ear of the 21st century artist. Worse than any kind of panning, a nasty pigeonholing is what many fear most. The way people screech, anyone would think it’s an act so depraved it would make dogging seem like a pork in the park. You can almost imagine the traumatised children of the creative muse crying tears of rage and condemnation on the day of their final artistic judgement. Lips quivering, eyes swollen and pink from crying, they blubber out their accusation:

‘He…he… pigeonholed me!’

But slow down. Let’s be honest – when it comes to pigeonholing, you bad little kiddies were begging for it. Yes, that’s right. C’mon, you wanted it. Pigeonholing is your secret, dirty, dreaded desire. It’s like the magical appearance of a little boy’s rump at the altar of a monastery. We fear it more than anything for the very fact that we desire it more than anything.

But if (to stretch the sex analogy to tearing point), sexual molestation occurs where someone is unwilling or unable to consent, the crime of pigeonholing occurs at that strange moment when you say what the person wants you to think they are. It’s like saying ‘I’m cool’. If someone asks you if you’re cool and you say you are, you’re not. Simple as that. More than anything, the ‘cool seeker’ wants you to pigeonhole them as ‘cool’, but it must be a silent insertion. Shhh… and in it goes.

Mnml, like electro and indie before it, has inherited the vice. People who make their money from appearances as DJs (playing mnml), producers of music (creating mnml), and remixers (making other animal’s vegetables into their mnml) will not only deny their being mnml, they’ll then proceed to tell you that ‘Sure, mnml is boring, but nobody’s mnml anymore anyway, people are really sick of mnml, I don’t think of myself as mnml, I never was mnml anyway and if people want to think of me as mnml, that’s because they just don’t understand. And besides, mnml is a four-letter word, even in Berlin. And it’s not even a word, it’s just a string of consonants, like ‘rhythm’!’

A word of warning to the would-be pigeonholer – if you want to get ‘all up in that’, if you want this kind of animal to show you their vegetable, then don’t say mnml. It’s like rugby, or the army – for the driving, homoerotic force to work, it has to remain unspoken. Shhh!
And that’s the problem, trying to romance a pigeonholer. The only way to give them the good, hard pigeonholing they want… is to pretend neither of you know what one is.

Originally published in Inpress, September '06

© Peter Chambers 2006

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PC is an animal of the antipodes believed to be related to a gibbon.