Chaque époque rêve la suivante . . . consciousness or unconsciousness cannot simply depict it as a dream, but responds to it in equal measure with desire and fear.

Theodor Adorno, letter to Walter Benjamin, 1935, in Aesthetics and Politics

Out on tour with Smashing Pumpkins/Nature kids, they don’t have a function/I don’t get what they mean/And I could really give a fuck./Stone Temple Pilots, they’re elegant bachelors/They’re foxy to me/are they foxy to you. . . .

—Pavement, “Range Life,” on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, 1994

THE ERA IN QUESTION IS MERELY a moment after all—1994, months after Kurt Cobain’s death, just about three years after punk rock finally broke big in America—just about three years after punk finally moved out of the half-hour ghetto of Postmodern MTV and into heavy rotation. All alternative, all the time, a Renaissance in American music. Socrates was the first to

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