Issue 3

Cover of I'M NOT LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE by Jeffrey T. Nealon

The B-Side of Biopower

By David J. Gunkel
Issue 3 October 10, 2019

From the beginning—actually from before the beginning—it is clear that the subject of Jeff Nealon’s I’m Not Like Everybody Else is situated on the side of consumption and concerns the activities of the pop music fan. This is immediately apparent in the Acknowledgements—one of those strange literary appendages that, at least since G.W.F. Hegel’s famous preface to the Phenomenology, is considered to be both a part of the book and not yet the book. Nealon’s Acknowledgements consist of a litany of consumer/fan activity organized around verbs having to do with practices of consumption: “listening” to a particular piece of music or “seeing” a legendary band in a specific place and time with a particular set of individuals. On its surface, the gesture looks both innocent and unremarkable, consisting of shout-outs to the people, places, and performers that form the backdrop for the project. But, as is almost always the case, there is a lot more going on here. The litany provides a kind of fast-forward preview of what is ultimately argued in the book, namely that “the crucial question for thinking about popular music in the present is no longer ‘What does music mean?’…Rather, the question of the present has become ‘How does music function?’”

Full article

Forthcoming in this issue: John Muckelbauer, Davi Thornton, Naomi Waltham-Smith, and Jeffrey T. Nealon's response.