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PRINT March 2003

MILESTONES

1981: Scritti Politti’s “Jacques Derrida”

IN 1982, TWO TENDENCIES, neither exactly a trend, came together in a curious moment: the release of a single by the band Scritti Politti. What was notable though was not the A side, “Asylums in Jerusalem,” but the tune on the flip side, a lite, elegant number called “Jacques Derrida.”

Tendency 1: It is hard to believe just how long a handful of narratives dominated the development of pop music; perhaps the most influential was the vulgarized version of the great countercultural fantasies of the late ’60s in which wave after wave of nonconformist young warriors do battle against the forces of the market. In this conceit, the goal of the market—striving not just for economic gain but for ideological victory—is to keep these rebels from expressing their aggression and instead to “soften” them, as the saying went. Today hardly anyone harbors any delusions that the emblematic aggression, loose

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