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Another Stab at Genre


So part of the problem with genre comes from the fact that different genres use different parameters to make classifications. The detective novel is classified as such by its plot or main characters and so is a tragedy broadly speaking, but there is still something much more specific about "detective" when compared to "tragedy." And if you look at the historical novel, that is not defined by plot at all but rather by its relationship to history.

In a way, some genres are defined by what they contain (characters that are detectives), while other genres are defined by what's out there in the world (history). And it is this interplay between inner-world characteristic and outer-world references that makes genre so slippery.

But slippery shouldn't be taken to mean threatening or silly.


Industrial music could be characterized by its form, the sounds it uses, or a general tendency (in its original guises) to experimentation. While "old school" purists suggest that the genre has lost its spark, many simply take the different sounds in today's industrial world to be simply a widening of the inner-world characteristics of the genre.

But it's also easy to see that industrial music has (or had) outer-world references that are also key to its definition. Some of these had to do with politics, or a kind of anti-establishment ethos. I think to some extent the We Demand Better movement of 2012 spoke to this kind of outer feature of industrial. And it is arguable that, to a large extent, this feature is less prominent than it used to be.

I think this kind of two-minute analysis is useful. Let's not be rid of genre as a topic of talk on forums. Sure it's complicated and ever-changing, but that gives us a challenge, not a threat. It's not about defining what is and what is not industrial, but rather of having a sense (tentative though it may be) of what it is that we're so interested in.