I went on a sort of angsty Twitter tirade the other day. Antiquiet is in a weird place right now. We don’t have a lot of blog posts going up, which I guess is generally considered to be a key vital sign for a blog. There’s more to the picture, at least from where I stand. I’ve been wanting to find a way to explain that, and lay the groundwork for some new movement. That tirade was a rough draft of sorts, and here’s an elaboration.
There are a few core tenets that have defined Antiquiet from day one. This post will probably seem wildly out of character to anyone with a preconceived idea of what Antiquiet should be, but there are two or three people out there that might remember where this all started. Not with music, but with the truth. We had posts about love, dreams, anxieties, politics, whatever we could constructively channel. There were only a couple of rules. First: Do not be something that already exists. We eventually settled on an identity centered around the most convenient shared passion and dressed up like a music site, but if at any point you start to feel like this post is some weird LiveJournal shit and I should be talking about the new Kanye song or whatever, just go find a cooler blog to read. Please. I’d rather just be corny every once in awhile than let myself or any of the other writers here feel a pressure to fulfill any expectations for anything at all outside of the one other requirement, which is sincerity. If you care, write it. If you don’t genuinely care, just skip it. Fuck clicks. If you care, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter what I think. Doesn’t matter what “the readers” think. Don’t ask permission. If I’m doing things right, every single post that goes up on Antiquiet exists because one person felt strongly enough about it to write it, and if just one other person out there in the world finds it and appreciates it, we’ve made the world a slightly more comfortable place. That was the dream.
Over 7 years or so, I can’t tell you that we always did things right. We often got into ruts where we found ourselves tired of writing about the 5 rock bands that 97% of us like, and sometimes we didn’t really know where or how to start digging out of that. As Steven put it, there was a pressure that came from the audience we had accrued. They would cringe if he felt like writing positively about, say, Paramore. Especially after I had written negatively about Paramore the week prior. Part of the grand idea here involved a healthy bit of anarchy, and I personally always really appreciated the fact that there was no Antiquiet party line. That we could disagree. That one writer’s most favorite band could be another writer’s least favorite, and both writers could write about that same band, on the same site, the same week. But in hindsight, I understand how easy it is for that kind of Lord Of The Flies shit to breed a kind of tension that results in division at worst, and stifling self-compromise at best.
I still believe in that idea, but I need to do a better job of explaining why, and how we can make it work.
Despite blog posts not going up, I’ve been thinking about Antiquiet every day. I don’t care any less about Antiquiet and what it is and could be than I did the day I started it in 2007 with Johnny. I hate that fucking Buzzfeed is establishing the new model of media. The race to the bottom has broken ground on a new nine-ring racetrack. On a personal level, I am genuinely happy for my friends and peers that have found success with sites like Consequence Of Sound. They’ve done it by doing all of the things we always refused to do, and while I insisted that there was another way, I’ve got nothing to show for it if all is said and done. They were right, and I was wrong. I guess I’m not so smart after all.
I would often make fun of sites like Buddyhead, that would space the fuck out for months at a time while traffic nose-dived because, I don’t know, drugs I guess. I could sneer and call ’em useless fuck-ups and act like I was better, but at the moment, at least I respect that dude for not wasting time for the sake of “making it” as a fuckin’ blogger. If he writes something, I have no doubt in my mind that he at least found it interesting enough to take a break from (actively) killing brain cells, and that’s more than I can say for most blog posts out there.
That’s immensely frustrating because it’s hard to see a middle ground. I don’t know how Antiquiet will ever become more than a hobby by spending more time than our peers, to write less. To be more careful, more responsible, to exercise more discretion. Which just comes off like snobbery most of the time anyway. But I’m not going to cry that music journalism is dead, as long as I have the will to at least try to keep it alive.
All isn’t quite said and done. What I put at the crux of my Twitter rant was that Antiquiet is not a product, it’s an idea. That’s not to say there’s not a crucial business side to this, but that business side is for sustenance and growth (if we’re so lucky), and nothing more. It will never define Antiquiet, or be a measure of its value to me, any more than what you do to put food on your table defines who you are as a person. The idea behind Antiquiet is alive and well. It’s just been more of a meditation lately. We’ll just have to see what shape it takes moving forward. But it’s the idea that matters, not the number of blog posts or ad impressions.
I have no hope that this sprawling diary entry will turn out “cool,” or righteous, or even entertaining enough for most people to trudge through. But there’s a paradox I’ve seen a few times in these years doing Antiquiet, and it certainly applies to much more than blogging. The more you try to be cool, the farther away you get from it.
I haven’t shut Antiquiet down because I still recognize it as, potentially, a one-of-a-kind platform that I think we need. And I think we need to confront the possibility that telling the truth is not necessarily about being right. It’s about being honest. In its most noble form, telling the truth is an act of bravery, of vulnerability. It doesn’t really take a whole lot of nerve to “call bullshit” on something you can turn off and walk away from at any time. Oh, Miley sucks, what a daring statement. How many of us can call bullshit on ourselves? How many of us have the strength to risk being laughed at by many and applauded by only a few? I don’t know, but I want to find out, and I want Antiquiet to be the stage.
Awhile back, Johnny and I collaborated on a well-intentioned manifesto that promised we’d cut the bullshit. But I don’t think we really explained what the bullshit was, or how we were cutting it. In a (less ambiguous) word, what we were talking about was pretense. Arbitrary ideas that people pull out of their ass and put on a pedestal. What’s cool. What we should write about. What we shouldn’t write about. Fuck all that.
I’m just going to write more, in the hopes to once again inspire other writers to do the same. Maybe some of you have something to say that no one else is saying; If so, let’s talk. And if you’re worried that I’m whigging, fuckin’ relax, we’re still going to cover good music and all that usual shit. I know what we’re good at and we have every intention of continuing to play to our strengths. And we’ll always strive to balance creative inspiration and journalistic integrity. Caring may make an odd subject fair game, but we’ll always have a responsibility to do our homework and speak knowledgeably and accountably. I’m just determined to completely eradicate from these virtual halls every last trace of that stupid bullshit hipster pressure to do what we think people think we should do.
So we’re going to try some shit. Hope you get it.