DJ Spooky and Judith Halberstam: A Conversation

Though they focus on different topics (DJ Spooky: sound and remixing vs Judith Halberstam: queer studies), DJ Spooky and Judith Halberstam agree on some ideas, specifically how oblivious the average human being can be regarding archiving.

DJ Spooky uses the idea of “the idiot” (page 9 of Rhythm Science) to describe an audience who provides no interaction with a topic. He proclaims a person who just enjoys the topic and doesn’t think about the background of it also an idiot. As a scholar (for that is who is most likely to read his book), to read that you are perhaps, legitimately, an idiot is somewhat insulting, but DJ Spooky offers the chance to redeem yourself by interacting and researching about whatever topic.

Similarly, Judith Halberstam offers the idea of “silly archiving,” but introduces it to open discussion with a lesser-educated person (or, possibly more correct, someone who knows little to nothing about a topic). She explains the ideas behind her Spongebob, Mumble from Happy Feet, and Dude, Where’s My Car? references as introductions to higher-qualified and scholarly examples.

Judith Halberstam’s “silly archive” is basically an introduction to a topic for DJ Spooky’s “idiot.” Ironically, I believe DJ Spooky is a great example of “silly archiving;” rather than using his own name, Paul Miller, DJ Spooky creates a pop-culture pseudonym to create a wider audience for himself. There is a greater chance for someone to pay more attention to someone named DJ Spooky than Paul Miller, simply because most humans are interested in media, pop-culture, and entertainment. Though they may expect music from DJ Spooky (which they get), he also offers scholarly research and information to his audiences. He is the “silly archive” to an “idiot” audience.

Discussion question: Is there a definitive line between “the idiot” and the scholarly?


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