It has often been said [well, I say it] that, if Erato Wine Bar on Grand Avenue in Saint Louis is BABEL's official editorial office, and In The Middle is its "floating residence" [we actually say this very thing in the Acknowledgments of Cultural Studies of the Modern Middle Ages, which is now officially in print! congratulations to us or something like that], then Seal Beach, California is its secret headquarters, where BABEL's mixmaster and surfer girlfriend, Betsy McCormick, is in residence. Ever since Tim Spence delivered his paper at this year's Kalamazoo meeting, "The Book of Hours and iPods, Passionate Lyrics and Prayers: Technologies of the Devotional Self," Betsy decided to see if what Tim wrote was true:
Imagine a laboratory. Turn on the lights. In their soft, electronic glow you see two technologies sitting on individual lab tables. On one table is a Book of Hours, a portal within the manuscript technologies used by cultures of devotion to perpetuate a life of emotionally-driven meaning. On the other table is an iPod, a portal within the digital technologies used by cultures of devotion to perpetuate a life of emotionally-driven meaning. . . . The iPod and the medieval Book of Hours are two seemingly alien technologies that have surprisingly similar effects on the people who use them. In essence, I believe that today’s iPods are yesterday’s Books of Hours. I think we can learn quite a bit about the culture of devotion that produced a boom in the production of prayer manuals in the fourteenth and fifteen centuries by thinking of these manuscripts as akin to the iPod and mp3 players in today’s popular culture. These devices help to individualize us, while at the same time habituating our emotions to function within a larger corporate structure.As an act of devotion, if we can call it that, to Tim's thinking here, Betsy has crafted the Seal Beach 2007 iPod mix, which we offer here to ITM readers as BABEL's holiday gift. Please don't tell us which songs you hate or note the songs that we somehow overlooked or disparage our dj talents. This is our mix, and we think it's perfect. We like to think it comes on strong, like adrenaline, and leaves softly, carrying a wobbly martini. Habituate yourself to the summer  of BABEL. Or resist entirely. It's up to you. We would like to say that if you send an email to Eileen [at firstname.lastname@example.org] we'll mail you a CD version, but then we'd be breaking the laws of the corporate "man." But still. We're just sayin'. It's a free country. You can send that email. If you feel like it. Happy holidays.
. . . .
The mystic and rock and roller stand as bookends opposed to modernity. Both icons extend far beyond Mr. Cogito’s reason, the logos of the printed Word. Richard Rolle embodies—and tries to instruct others how to embody—a constant state of sweetness in the form of a song. Rolle’s notion of embodiment has much more in common with Hedwig’s angry inch than either do with Grey’s Anatomy. The mystic rocker embodies a habitus of devotion based on complex imagery. The images of these cultures of devotion focus on a limited number of themes, including personal suffering, particularly in love and fighting. Unlike a habitus based on scientific reason, the mystic rocker embraces emotions as a viable medium for cultural memory and social communication. By habituation, the mystic rocker orders its lives in a spiritual manner, using emotions as vehicles through which individuals might experience a particular physical sensation—oftentimes describable as “bittersweet”—whenever s/he wants. In 1407 the most popular vehicle, or media, for an intimate and immediate invocation of this pleasure/pain through spiritual devotion was the Book of Hours; in 2007 it is the iPod.
The Tim Spence Experiment: Seal Beach 2007
This is the Sea [The Waterboys]
Gimme Shelter [The Rolling Stones]
Connected [Stereo MCs]
Umbrella [Rhianna, featuring Jay-Z]
Don't Change [INXS]
Come Undone [Duran Duran]
Extreme Ways [Moby]
What Goes Around . . ./. . . Comes Around [Justin Timberlake]
Ship of Fools [World Party and Anthony Thistlewaite]
Older [Colbie Caillat]
Theme from Endless Summer
Big Girls Don't Cry [Fergie]
Eminence Front [The Who]
Best I Ever Had [Gary Allan]
Here's to Life [Shirley Horn]