A Mock Conversation with Halberstam and Miller

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Interviewer: The idea of anti-intellectualism plays a role not only in what both of you talk and write about, but also the manner in which you talk and write. Can elaborate on the ways anti-intellectualism has affected your work? 

Halberstam: Yes, in my previous interview I talked about the “neo-macho-man” and the present culture with its focus on a detrimental form of masculinity that has given rise to groups of men with a sense of entitlement ultimately expressed in violence. This machismo exemplifies the sense of anti-intellectualism that became apparent in the Bush years particularly after 9/11. I think if any thought provoking look at queer theory or feminist theory is to be successful, then academics can not have the disdain for people that stereotypically marks academic papers. “So for me, I then go to a popular archive and say, well, what are these mass-cultural texts that actually do appeal, do circulate, and do have sort of complex forms, and do contain different kind messages?” (Danbolt 3). It seems that some of the biggest break throughs in queer theory or feminist theory will come from someone capable of bringing mass appeal to complex ideas.

Miller: Halberstam makes some interesting points, but the DJ culture never had a place above popular culture, rather it flowed directly from it. “Sign and symbol, word and meaning all drift into the sonic maelstrom” (Miller 5). Every word and every sound from the dominant, mainstream culture was at our disposal from the beginning, so our work as DJs came directly from the “popular archive” as Halberstam would say. And while DJ-ing does flow from the “popular archive” and can be anti-establishment, that does not necessitate anti-intellectualism as the work of DJs can manifest as thought provoking critiques of society. 

Interviewer: Ideas of culture figure prominently in each of your works. How does your work feature within or outside of culture?

Halberstam: Well, first of all, I do not think you can be outside of culture. Much like gendering we are all in and surrounded by culture and even if we could stop it – which we can not – I think it would be senseless to do so. The importance lies in changing the culture at large by finding different archives and different concepts that will allow us to look at our culture and make necessary changes. 

Miller: I agree with Halberstam in many ways. When you look at all of the music that exists and all of the new music that is created every single day you quickly realize that you can never hear all of it. On top of that is all of the other art, such as books or movies, also being created that you will never read or watch. But within all of that, you can find new things and take what exists and sample, remix, and repackage it so as to express yourself. The result is not only the creation of something new from the existing culture, but a clearer expression of the person who created it. This holds true for mine, but really anyone’s work as a DJ.

Interviewer: Do you have any final questions that you would like to pose to the audience? 

Halberstam: I briefly mentioned the idea of finding a new archive. How could someone actually go about finding a new archive? What could a new archive be or look like?

Miller: I write about ideas taking shape and having a certain magnitude, but without being tied to a place. Can an archive ever leave its geographical constraints behind and exist without a fixed position?

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