Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Sorry to lower the tone a bit (again) with my post, but i've come across this Gappy Ranks track called 'English Money' and its bloody good.
In an acidbass kind of way it sort of encapsulates this Christmas spending frenzy, where London snows receipts and we all submit to the consumer fervor.
'I want some money...'
'I hear the fifty pound note calling...'
I promise my next post will be super-intellectual about the voice/speech/Lacan. For now, lets just enjoy some Gappy Ranks.
Monday, 20 December 2010
Friday, 17 December 2010
A long and in-depth talk on the body without organs, as well as several of the other things which were mentioned during the latest session, such as psychedelics, Spinoza's impersonal God, virtual diagrams and the question of the One vs. the Multiple (I really like the part near the end where he critizes Badiou and the student's are trying to dismiss it as false). Another important thing is Deleuze's use of science and mathematics, which is emphasized clearly in this talk, and which I think is important not to forget, since it is easy to just dismiss all of this as some kind of new-age thing, but that's far from the truth, as he points out.
Great session yesterday, particularly the discussion on the embodied voice in relation to Silverman (and D&G), which was something I hadn't thought of earlier. That will probably be useful for me when writing the essay(s).
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
I had to watch this several times before I turned it into bullet points. Writing as a feminist historian of science she shows that she must also write as a philosopher, and make general, bold, arrogant claims even as she works within the specificity of her immediate concerns. The first few minutes are unbelievably awkward and amusing to watch, because of the various miscommunications and interruptions between the philosopher and her interlocutor. But eventually when things get underway it becomes clear that she had a lot of things on her mind to unload..
- 'The non-anthropomorphic agency of artifacts.'
- Humans as ontologically constituted by the relationality between human and nonhuman liveliness
- Conviviality with nonhuman kinship networks of agency
- Humans do not produce machines, even in areas of direct human invention
- Nontranscendence of the nonhuman and nonanimal- 'life is a verb, and the actors aren't all human'
- 'Point of view' is a limited metaphor because it tends toward anthropomorphism
- Working within small, mundane places to name emergent ontologies
- A resistance to both universalism and relativism: 'a pox on both your houses, thank you.'
- Deadly 'fraternal sibling rivalries' of binary oppositions such as realism and social constructionism--'both supposed choices are a false choice'
- Crosstalk summoned by postcolonialism, intersectional feminist analysis, rearrangements of life and death in general
- Arguing against this kind of general relevance, and for a reveling in finitude
- Lack of translation does not prevent communication; it is its precondition because the condition of language is troping, troping is tripping, and there is no making sense in general, only in fact
Saturday, 11 December 2010
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
posting something i did last night.
i have been wanting to make a cover for a long time. tried to cover fleetwood mac's "that's all for everyone" but failed miserably. too good to be ruined by me. recently i have become fascinated with the idea of a "bad" or inadequate cover:)) in addition to that i wanted to make a track where u could "hear" the "seams", do whatever. so i covered abba's "honey honey". i dunno what this is really. para-pop. pleasure in pain.
my vers - listen HERE
Friday, 3 December 2010
Thursday, 2 December 2010
the idea that this is an electronic instrument the playing of which does not include direct (tactile) contact AND the fact that two major theremin virtuosos - clara rockmore & lydia kavina - were/are women...almost makes me want to write an essay about it. at the moment I'm just numbly fascinated tho.
in a way theremin sounds very "analogue", to an untrained ear maybe even like a wind instrument (and dolar has written about wind instruments and women! - p. 45-46 in "A Voice..."). at the same time as it is electronic it is eerie. familiar and yet so strange. becomes even stranger when you actually see how it is played.
I think of a woman's hands. or lap. electronic instruments and women do not really go together. even in 2010, it is rather joanna newsom or smth like this that comes to mind when thinking of a girl and her instrument. cliche but - it is all about the gentle touch, the organic voice. and on the other end of the scale we have kraftwerk, man-machines, vocoders and synths.
but I'd say that THIS is somewhere IN BETWEEN:
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Does anyone now this film...? it's a while ago that I've been seeing it but i remember it as fascinating .. it's not at the library though.. :(
This is a quote from 'Tropical Malady', directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, kindly recommended by Hae-Jin. Now I also know that the VIENNALE 2010 trailer was made by him. It made me think about another trailer of this small film festival, from 2008, made by Godard. Both very beautiful i think ...
'Empire' by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and 'Une Catastrophe' by Jean-Luc Godard.
I first heard about it 10 years ago in the house of a friend in the outskirts of Lisbon, he had a cd of Helder o Rei do Kuduro (The King of Kuduro). I couldn't get it by then, we (the portuguese whites) were too appart from any African music (due to the recent past of the still unspoken colonial war). It came from Angola and grew on an outskirt just nextdoor to my house. By now, it influences Portuguese mainstream music, proliferated internationally by bands such as Buraka Som Sistema that have on the past year put a song together with M.I.A.
But i'd say the kings are Helder, Puto Prata and every small outkast project.
It is extremely powerfull to listen, sing along and dance to.
here's a wiki text on Kuduro:
Kuduro (or kuduru) is a type of music originally born in Angola in the 1980s. It is characterized as uptempo, energetic, and danceable.
The roots of kuduro can be traced to the late 1980s when producers in Luanda, Angola started mixing African percussion samples with simple calypso and soca rhythms to create a style of music then known as "batida". European and American electronic music had begun appearing in the market, which attracted Angolan musicians and inspired them to incorporate their own musical styles.An Angolan MC, Sebem, began toasting over this and is credited with starting the genre.
The name itself is a word with a specific meaning to location in the Kimbundu language, which is native to the northern portion of Angola. It has a double meaning in that it also translates to "hard ass" or "stiff bottom" in Portuguese, which is the official language of Angola. Kuduro dancing is similar to Dancehall dancing of Jamaica. It combines traditional Angolan Kilapanga, Semba and Zouk with Western house and techno. As Vivian Host points out in her article, despite the common assumption that "world music" from non-Western countries holds no commonalities with Western modern music, Angolan kuduro does contain "elements in common with punk, deep tribal house, and even Daft Punk. It is thus the case that cultural boundaries and limitations within the musical spectrum are constantly shifting and being redefined. And though Angolan kuduro reflects an understanding and, further, an interpretation of Western musical forms, the world music category that it fits under tends to reject the idea of Western musical imperialism.The larger idea here is that advancements in technology and communications and the thrust of music through an electronic medium have made transcending cultural and sonic musical structures possible. According to Blentwell Podcasts, kuduro is a "mixture of house, hip-hop, and ragga elements," which illustrates how this is at once an Angolan-local and global music. Indeed, this "musical cross-pollination", as Vivian Host calls it, represents a local appropriation of global musical forms, such that the blending of different musics creates the music of a "new world."
Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Dear fellow bloggers,
I am posting something I discovered recently - I really dig this. I do not know whether it is lame to listen to McCartney but, frankly, I do not care and probably the album McCartney II (from 1980) is an exception anyway.
So here is the track "Check My Machine" from McCartney II. When I first heard it I found myself completely puzzled. This does not sound anything like The Beatles or Wings. The first thing it reminded me of was actually Ariel Pink. Probably because of the "white funk" falsetto-voice. And not the original white funk but namely the second hand, digested and drained version of it that we find in Pink. What also makes it Pinkish is probably the jokey-quality of this track. Of course Pink came later and this is from 1980 which is why it is odd.
The use of samples and the length of it makes it oh-so-contemporary. Goes well with the overall loop-loving lo-fi wave that we have atm. (Actually it was the Baltimore sample-wizard Jason Urick who said that I should listen to McCartney II and that the album has definitely had an impact on him).
I cannot understand what "machine" Macca is singing about. There is something porn-ish about this track, probably because it is rather long and laid-back; because of the bassline as well. So I came to the conclusion that Macca might be singing about something sexual. Classic funk: in 1971 James Brown asks us to "get up and stay on the scene like a sex machine". I do not know what that means but anyway; pseudo-funk: 9 yrs later asks Macca to check out his machine.
Googled the lyrics. And there we have it:
Check My Machine
Check Check Check Check Check My Machine
(Spoken) Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones
But Names Will Never Hurt Me
Check My Machine
Check Check Check Check Check My Machine
I Got A Woman A Long Time Ago
I Had Trouble
I Want You To See What You Can See
women, drive, machines - gonna stop here.
PS. A little ad for Jason Urick as well, I think he is great:
Jason Urick - Se Na Min (SPOTIFY link)
Sunday, 28 November 2010
(from "The Object Speaks", given at the Philosophy and the Vernacular dayschool, at the International Centre for Music Studies (ICMUS), the University of Newcastle, September 2006)
In More Brilliant than the Sun, Kodwo Eshun situates Jones’ version of ‘She’s Lost Control’ as part of a tripartite moment, beginning with the death of HAL in 2001, and continuing into the Chicago House of Sleezy D’s ‘Lost Control’.
"The womanmachine Grace Jones' 82 remodel of Joy Division's 79 She's Lost Control updates the '50s mechanical bride. For the latter losing control meant electric epilepsy, voice drained dry by feedback. For Jones, the female model that's losing control induces the sense of automation running down, the human seizing up into a machine rictus. The model - as girl, as car, as synthesizer - incarnates the assembly time of generations, obsolescence, 3-year lifespans."
Jones as a model, then… again… Girl, car, synthesizer – the mechanical bride stripped bare by her bachelors, even.
Seizing up, indeed. To lose control here is not to attain the hyper-vital contingency of the aleatory or the ludic, but to be seized, to find one’s will interrupted and disrupted by the interposition of an Other agent; and to seize up, to feel one’s limbs becoming arthritized by the irruption of the mechanical.
In Joy Division’s original, Ian Curtis abjects his own dis-ease, the ‘holy sickness’ of epilepsy, onto a female Other. We may remember that Freud includes epileptic fits – along, incidentally, with a body in the grip of sexual passion – as examples of the uncanny. Here the organic is slaved to the mechanical rhythms of the inorganic; the inanimate calls the tune.
In Joy Division’s version, "She’s Lost Control" is one of rock’s most explicit encounters with death drive: it confronts the "edge of no escape", petil mals as petit morts, Poe-like cataleptic black holes in subjectivity, intermittent interruptions of the user-illusion of identity - She’s Lost Control – flatline voyages into the land of the dead and back, like Artaud miserably waking from the white-hot torture-bliss of electro-convulsive therapy, repetition-compulsion - She’s Lost Control Again -
Joy Division’s icy-spined undeath disco sounds like it has been recorded inside the damaged synaptic pathways of a brain of someone undergoing a seizure, Curtis’ sepulchural, anhedonic vocals sent back to him – as if they were the voice of an Other, or Others - in long, leering expressionistic echoes that linger like acrid acid fog.
Jones’ version transposes the song into the Black Atlantic dub of which Martin Hannet’s production was in any case a sombre Manchester doppelganger. Perhaps it is in dub that we come as close as possible to encountering the voice as object; for in dub the voice is estranged both from the body and from signification, even as it can be heard as what they have in common.
In her version, Jones’ voice is wreathed in echoes – of itself, of course; set adrift in a malevolent haze of eerily circulating vocal fragments, figments and FX. Is it an accident that amidst this vocal detritus are two of the limit-cases of the linguistic referred to by Mladen Dolar: the scream and the laugh? In the pre-linguistic scream and the post-linguistic laugh, the liminality of the language erupts in audible signs of the loss of control. ‘Laughter … often bursts out uncontrollably, against the will and intention of the hapless subject; it seizes him or her with an unstoppable force as a series of cramps and convulsions which irrepressibly shake the body and elicit inchoate cries which cannot be consciously contained.’ (29)
Where Curtis sounds already-dead, fatalistically mortified, capable of neither screaming nor laughing, Jones sounds crazed, deranged, in some state that, neither agonized nor ecstatic, is some sublime bitches’ brew of the two; jouissance, precisely. The screams and the laughter seem to come from some Other place, a dread zone from which Jones has returned, but only partially. Is it the laughter of one who has passed through death or the scream of a machine that is coming to life?
Jones changes the words, repudiates Curtis’ disavowal.
‘I’ve lost control’, she sings, repeating her impossible identification again, paradoxically asserting her subjectivity at the very moment of its erasure.
I’ve lost control
I have become the object.
I, the object.
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
I felt I had to post this song I've been listening to a lot recently. This is a fantastic example of 'new wave' South African dance music. This particular track is in the Shangaan tradition, which is fast, very hot, 'vibey' and uses Pantsula moves (made popular in the 80s among young men and women as a way of expressing frustration and anger in the townships. Its a seemingly violent, fast, aggressive way of dancing. 'When you see them dance you feel like they have got no bones').
Shangaan differs from the sounds of 'the hip hop guys' or afro-pop, because its faster, and uses a different set of instruments. Nozinja argues that he revolutionized the Shangaan music tradition, because he deviated from the traditional set up of bass and lead guitar, by using marimba and organs instead, 'those are the new aspects they never had before. At first people thought I was mad, and now its the in-thing. You can play that music with bass, thats the old-timer music'.
Shangaan comes from the Limpopo province of South Africa. Nozinja describes the area as 'rural. Its hot, very hot and vibey. Shangaan music is about love'
Friday, 19 November 2010
In psychology, bicameralism is a hypothesis which argues that the human brain once assumed a state known as a bicameral mind in which cognitive functions are divided between one part of the brain which appears to be "speaking", and a second part which listens and obeys.
The term was coined by psychologist Julian Jaynes, who presented the idea in his 1976 book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, wherein he made the case that a bicameral mentality, that is to say a mental state in which there are two distinct sections of consciousness, was the normal and ubiquitous state of the human mind as recently as 3000 years ago. He used governmental bicameralism to metaphorically describe such a state, in which the experiences and memories of the right hemisphere of the brain are transmitted to the left hemisphere via auditory hallucinations. This mental model was replaced by the conscious mode of thought, which Jaynes argues is grounded in the acquisition of metaphorical language.
According to Jaynes, ancient people in the bicameral state would experience the world in a manner that has similarities to that of a modern-day schizophrenic. Rather than making conscious evaluations in novel or unexpected situations, the person would hallucinate a voice or "god" giving admonitory advice or commands, and obey these voices without question; one would not be at all conscious of one's own thought processes per se.
Jaynes inferred that these "voices" came from the right brain counterparts of the left brain language centres—specifically, the counterparts to Wernicke's area and Broca's area. These regions are somewhat dormant in the right brains of most modern humans, but Jaynes noted that some studies show that auditory hallucinations correspond to increased activity in these areas of the brain.
Even though Jaynes' theory seems to be more of a cult today, rather than the object of serious academic debate, this is still a bit interesting in terms of what was discussed during the last session. Also, Dolar's text, in particular, did help to clarify an aspect of both Jaynes' and Lacan's work that I had failed to notice prior to reading it - which obviously is the disctinction, or inner tension, between signifying language and asignifying voice.
If anyone is interested in this, Steven Shaviro has a brief but interesting discussion of Jaynes' theory on his blog. It's been a while since I read the book myself, but I remember it as a bit cheesy from time to time. However, anyone who's interested might benefit from checking it out.
Thursday, 18 November 2010
- How could your nothings be so sweet?
What to make of Green's voice, then? Or, to pose the same question from the other side: what is the minimal difference that has always separated Scritti's deconstructions from the Real Thing? There's a tendency to locate Green's undoings and unsettlings on the level of signifiers, as if his subversion were all to do with Wordplay, and his voice were merely a site for natural expressivity. But, as Dolar establishes, the 'object voice' is neither the voice stripped of all sensual qualities in order to become the neutral transmitter of signifiers, nor the voice stripped of all signification in order to become a pure source of aesthetic pleasure. With Green's voice, we continually slide between two types of Non-Sense: the nonsense of 'the lover's discourse', the nursery-rhyme-like reiterations of baby-talk phrases that are devoid of meaning, but which are nevertheless the most important utterances people perform or hear; and also the nonsense of the voice as sound, another kind of sweet nothing. That is why Green's lyrics look very different when you read them; the voice almost prevents you hearing them except as senseless sonorous blocks, mechanically repeated refrains.
What is disturbing about Cupid & Psyche by comparison with the New Pop that preceded is precisely its lack of any self-conscious meta-presence. This is where I slightly disagree with Simon, when he argues that Cupid & Psyche is 'about love rather than in love.' It seems to me that what makes Cupid & Psyche so disturbingly depthless is precisely the absence of that space between the song's form and the subject; the songs instantiate the lover's discourse, they do not comment on it. Cupid & Psyche's songs, creepily, aren't about anything, any more than love itself is. Compare Cupid & Psyche with ABC's The Lexicon of Love (an album of love songs about love songs, if ever there was one), for instance. Martin Fry's presence is ubiquitous in The Lexicon of Love, manifesting itself in every raised eyebrow and set of inverted commas. But on Cupid & Psyche we get precious little sense of a 'real', biographical Green behind or beyond the record; as opposed to Self-consciousness, we have 'reflexivity without a self (not a bad name for the subject').' (Dolar) There is only the void, the voice and the signifying chain, unraveling forever in a shopping mall of mirrors, a whispering gallery of sweet nothings...
I guess it's a sickness/ that keeps me wanting...
The excess of Green's voice resides in its sweetness, a sweetness that seems unhealthy, sickly, which puts us on our guard even as it seduces us. Green's voice is synthetic, candied, rather than authentic, wholesome. It already sounds inhuman, so that, upon first hearing rave's pitched-up chirruping vocals, the obvious comparison was with Scritti's androgynous cooing.
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Voice Devoured: Artaud
and Borges on Dubbing
TRANSLATED BY LARRY P. JOSEPH
OCTOBER 64, Spring 1993.
- On April 19, 1929, Artaud wrote to Yvonne Allendy to inform her that
he was completing work on the screenplay for the film The Dybbuk, which was to contain "sound fragments": "I have decided to introduce sound and even talking portions into all my screenplays since there has been such a push toward the talkie that in a year or two no one will want silent films any more."2 The script of The Dybbuk did not survive, but its very title is highly suggestive. A dybbuk is a character in Jewish folklore, a person inhabited by the spirit of someone who has died and who speaks through the mouth of that person. The ghost of the deceased torments the living person, causing him to writhe and to rave, forcing him to blaspheme against his will. This folkloric character obviously recapitulates, in its own way, the problematic of dubbing, though in an inverted form: in dubbing, the film star divests the live actor of his voice; through the dybbuk, the voice of the deceased inhabits a living body. Nevertheless, in both cases the situation remains much the same; the voice resides in someone else's body. Given his love for anagrams and of glossolalia, Artaud might well have identified one with the other, purposely retaining the foreign, English spelling of the word dubbing: dubbing-dibbouk.3 The overtly satanic subtext of an article about dubbing, which is about something "thoroughly ghoulish"-the snatching of the personality, of the soul-is crucial.
- Dem 2's "Don't Cry Dub" of Groove Connektion 2's "Club Lonely" is an even more ear-boggling feat of robo-glossalalia. This 1997 remix sounds like the missing link between Zapp's vocoder-funk mantra "More Bounce To the Ounce" and Maurizio's dub-house. Snipping the vocal into syllables and vowels, feeding the phonetic fragments through filters and FX, Dem 2 create a voluptuous melancholy of cyber-sobs and lump-in-throat glitches: "whimpering, wounded 'droids crying out in desolation!", as Spencer Edwards puts it.
"You can add a different soul that wasn't there", is how Dem 2 describe this kind of vocal remixology. "Deconstruction" is not too strong a term, for what is being dismantled is the very idea of the voice as the expression of a whole human subject. "Instead of the 'organic' female singer of early garage, you get a legion of dismembered doll parts," says journalist Bethan Cole, who's writing a book about the diva in dance music. On tracks like Dem 2's remix of Cloud 9's "Do You Want Me" or Colors featuring Stephen Emmanuel's "Hold On (SE22 Mix)", the vocal --a paroxysm of hairtrigger blurts and stuttered spasms of passion--doesn't resemble a human being so much as an out-of-control desiring-machine. What you're hearing is literally cyborg --a human enhanced and altered through symbiosis with technology.