Wednesday, February 10, 2016
A Few Thoughts on Robert Pollard
Robert Pollard began “started by voices” in 1981 in Dayton Ohio with band mates that are too numerous and fleeting to mention. He was a 4th grade elementary school teacher during the day, the profession he used to finance his musical inclinations. He is described as being an extremely prolific songwriter; accredited with 23 albums and having written about 2000 songs, he was named the 78th greatest songwriter of all time by Paste Magazine. Through an eleven year haze of narcotics, booze and hallucinogenic (mis?) adventures, Pollard finally found himself in the indie-rock lime light in 1994 when Matador records signed him. His ambitions and dreams suddenly seemed to have become a reality, something Baudrillard has (not surprisingly) put some thought into: “Go and organize a fake holdup. Be sure to check that your weapons are harmless, and take the most trustworthy hostage, so that no life is in danger (otherwise you risk committing an offence). Demand ransom, and arrange it so that the operation creates the greatest commotion possible – in brief, stay close to the “truth”, so as to test the reaction of the apparatus to a perfect simulation. But you wont succeed: the web of artificial signs will be inextricably mixed up with real elements (a police officer will really shoot on sight; a bank customer will faint and die of a heart attack; they will really turn the phony ransom over to you) – in brief, you unwittingly find yourself immediately in the real, one of whose function is precisely to devour every attempt at simulation, to reduce everything to some reality – that’s exactly how the established order is. “ (Simulations, Baudrillard, 39). In more ways than one, Pollard was going through the actions (simulations) of an indie rocker for the entirety of 14 years (with little to no personal or financial gain) just as one would if they were simulating a bank robbery, as Baudrillard examined. How much of Robert Pollards early narrative was simulation (of being an indie-rocker), and at what point did it cross over into the real - into the celebrity limelight? How does substance abuse play into this; from the lucid reality of an LSD induced delusion to the wholly sedative nature of alcoholism, how much can we be sure of in this reality by itself, let alone a reality inundated by mind altering substances? And finally, to what degree are we all testing reality with simulations that manifest themselves as endeavors and attempts in our daily lives?