We are most pleased to welcome Damon Krukowski to the City Lights Bookstore on Wednesday, April 26th to discuss his new book, The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World, published by The New Press. Damon answered our 5 questions. More about him, and his answers, below.
The Event: Wednesday, April 26th at 7:00PM. 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133. Free and open to the public.
About The New Analog: Having made his name in the late 1980s as a member of the indie band Galaxie 500, Damon Krukowski has watched cultural life lurch from analog to digital. And as an artist who has weathered the transition, he has challenging, urgent questions for both creators and consumers about what we have thrown away in the process: Are our devices leaving us lost in our own headspace even as they pinpoint our location? Does the long reach of digital communication come at the sacrifice of our ability to gauge social distance? Do streaming media discourage us from listening closely? Are we hearing each other fully in this new environment?
Rather than simply rejecting the digital disruption of cultural life, Krukowski uses the sound engineer’s distinction of signal and noise to reexamine what we have lost as a technological culture, looking carefully at what was valuable in the analog realm so we can hold on to it. Taking a set of experiences from the production and consumption of music that have changed since the analog era—the disorientation of headphones, flattening of the voice, silence of media, loudness of mastering, and manipulation of time—as a basis for a broader exploration of contemporary culture, Krukowski gives us a brilliant meditation and guide to keeping our heads amid the digital flux. Think of it as plugging in without tuning out.
About Damon Krukowski: Damon Krukowski was in the indie rock band Galaxie 500 and is currently one half of the folk-rock duo Damon & Naomi. He has written for Pitchfork, Artforum, Bookforum, Frieze, The Wire, and on his blog International Sad Hits. He has published two books of prose poetry, serves as co-publisher of the literary press Exact Change, and is the author of The New Analog (The New Press). He has taught writing and music at Harvard University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
City Lights: If you’ve been to City Lights before, what’s your memory of the visit?
Damon Krukowski: A staff as interesting as the books! I don’t come to San Francisco without stopping in at City Lights, for both the people and the titles.
CL: What’s the first book you read & what are you reading right now?
DK: I have earlier musical memories than books–my mother is a jazz singer and she sang to me more than read to me, I suspect. Which maybe hurried me along toward reading for myself? I remember the Maurice Sendak book Pierre I Don’t Care being an early triumph of the imagination. (Decades later I found it echoed in Melville –a mash-up of “Bartleby, the Scrivener” with Pierre; or, the Ambiguities–what bitter ideas for baby!)
Right now, I’m reading a Zone book which I picked up because of the amazing title–A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity–it’s a mind-blowing excursion into our prehistory. I have to look up vocabulary in it constantly, author Gary Tomlinson has clearly digested several disciplines’ worth of specialized terminology. So far I’m up to about 500,000 years ago–lots to cover still!
CL: Which 3 books would you never part with?
DK: Rimbaud’s Illuminations; Kafka’s stories published in his lifetime, the collection Max Brod called The Penal Colony; and just one more…? Too painful to make that choice! I’ll leave it blank, it feels more talmudic.
CL: If your book had a soundtrack, what would it be?
DK: It does! Anyway there are a lot of songs mentioned in it, and I’m hoping people will listen along. I’m actually writing a fiction that has a soundtrack now, as well–I’ve been publishing it serially on my blog, International Sad Hits, where I can include YouTube links to tunes at the right moments. Search the tag “self storage.”
CL: If you opened a bookstore tomorrow, where would it be located, what would it be called, and what would your bestseller be?
DK: Well my partner Naomi Yang and I don’t have a store, but we do publish books from our home in Cambridge, under the name Exact Change–and our bestseller is probably Maldoror, by Lautréamont–the creepiest title in our catalogue!
Join Damon at City Lights Bookstore this Wednesday, April 26th as he discusses his book, The New Analog. Follow his tumblr blog and definitely check out what’s being published by his publishing house, Exact Change, a City Lights favorite. Get The New Analog direct from the New Press or ask for it at your local independent bookseller.