Saturday, 31 December 2011

Brian Eno on Gospel Voices

Very interesting interview with Brian Eno about Gospel voices, singing and a cappella techniques, Klaxon voices, quartet singing etc. on Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service from the 25th December.

Transmission and playlist available here:


Friday, 23 December 2011

Oneohtrix Point Never and the Grain of the Voice

    OPN’s consonantal chorus of lost voices, the vocabulary of a glossa sans logos, highlighted what Roland Barthes called the “grain” of the voice, the song that comes from the body, not from the speaking subject — the body itself speaking, in a wet, libidinal poetry of consonants — not the speech of the lungs, but of “the tongue, the glottis, the teeth, the mucus membranes, the nose.” Barthes’ posthuman voice of the desirous recording is the same discovered by Lopatin, one that doesn’t come at the level of the word or even the phoneme (not the human, not the cultural level), but at the level of the glottal stop, the fleshy mechanical part of the body. In an interview with Altered Zones, Lopatin explained his interest in this noise that surrounds and comprises signs thusly: “It’s revealing that we’re not in a perfect system though we want to be. We want to believe that we’re efficient and perfect, but things are totally out of control and chaotic, like the way we speak and the way we think.” The human subject becomes a libidinal soundscape just barely contained within our skins, looped air temporarily trapped by the folds of the body, echoing with the consonantal chorus of lost voices, the vocabulary of a glossa sans logos…

- From Ian Latta's review of Oneohtrix Point Never's Replica

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Hera/Juno - punishing another substitute for Zeus + Cratylus!

Hera/Juno just gets worse and worse.

Check out this hilarious example. She's basically sat in a Weatherspoons with big Z, they jokingly argue over who gets more pleasure from sex, men or women. Zeus/Jove thinks women do, Hera/Juno thinks men do. So they ask Tiresias because he's transgender. Check out Hera's reaction:

While these events according to the laws of destiny occurred, and while the child, the twice-born Bacchus, in his cradle lay, 'Tis told that Jupiter, a careless hour, indulged too freely in the nectar cup; and having laid aside all weighty cares, jested with Juno as she idled by. Freely the god began; “Who doubts the truth? The female's pleasure is a great delight, much greater than the pleasure of a male.” Juno denied it; wherefore 'twas agreed to ask Tiresias to declare the truth, than whom none knew both male and female joys: for wandering in a green wood he had seen two serpents coupling; and he took his staff and sharply struck them, till they broke and fled. 'Tis marvelous, that instant he became a woman from a man, and so remained while seven autumns passed. When eight were told, again he saw them in their former plight, and thus he spoke; “Since such a power was wrought, by one stroke of a staff my sex was changed—again I strike!” And even as he struck the same two snakes, his former sex returned; his manhood was restored.—as both agreed to choose him umpire of the sportive strife, he gave decision in support of Jove; from this the disappointment Juno felt surpassed all reason, and enraged, decreed eternal night should seal Tiresias' eyes.—immortal Deities may never turn decrees and deeds of other Gods to naught, but Jove, to recompense his loss of sight, endowed him with the gift of prophecy.

Also - getting voco-centric again. Socrates didn't write, he only spoke, and he heard voices telling him, oddly, what not to say and do. Pythagoras would give his lectures from behind a curtain....we can add another ancient philosopher to the list of 'those who had issues with the voice': Cratylus! I found him mentioned on a podcast about Heraclitus. Basically Cratylus didn't like words, he took the Heraclitian notion of flow to the nth degree and felt that even words were transient, shifting and useless for communication (to put things crudely) he chose to be mute (Cratylism), and would hold up his finger instead of speaking up about matters, it's interesting that he felt so strongly about language, word, the voice and logos - but also a shame, otherwise he could've shouted after his mentor Heraclitus and told him not to run up into the hills and live off herbs (which probably lead to his demise).

Sunday, 18 December 2011

☾ °☆○ ° ★ ★  ° ☾ ☆ ¸.°  Kaja $i£lv€rman ☆  ¸. ● .  ★  ★ ° ☾ ☆ ¸. ¸  ★ • ○

For those currently engaged with this text you may find it somewhat frustrating that the scan obscures some sentences and even overlooks a couple of pages. Particularly if you don't have the original to refer to.

Here's an online edition of the book available to download. It's not beautiful but it is legible.


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Male / Female - a priori / empirical diagram in relation to Irigaray's Speculum of the Other Woman

OK, I love a good diagram, I drew this whilst thinking about the Luce Irigaray text last Tuesday. I feel it sums up the predicament that Irigaray was performing -  using Platos Cave to outline. This was also outlined very well be Adriana's demonstration of male introversion/a priori stance and feminine outward gaze for a male reflection:
F is either M, following the masculine tradition of a priori introspection (like the dudes in the cave, Plato) or F is empirical in which case the reflection is that of the male framed world, F asks M, so F=M through being M by being a priori OR F=M empirically by outwardly looking for a M tainted response/reflection.

I feel this sentiment is the bones of Irigaray's performance - the birth analogies, the uterofication of the cave are, for me, secondary to this, they elucidate the same sentiment.

Thinking back to Echo and Narcissus it's easy to see this dynamic, especially the empirical side. Echo as outwardly expressed is Male. Narcissus reflection is also Male, and Narcissus' love, his introspection is Male, and all of Echo's sentiments, her words are male words, she can only be male, she can only echo, and the love of the story is also a male reflection.

Being a little provocative now. Echo is male, doomed to only being an echo of the male because of another woman, namely Hera. Hera cut Echo's tongue out and cursed her to only echo others words after Echo acted as a distraction for Hera whilst her bo Zeus enjoyed the pleasures of all the other mountain nymphs. I find this aspect of Echo fascinating, she kept Hera talking, gossiping and whispering solely so that Hera was unaware of Zeus' infidelity. Hera ought to have punished Zeus, or the other mountain Nymphs - but she did not, she punished Echo, who merely acted as a distraction, so that her fellow nymphs and the all powerful Zeus could enjoy one another's company. Hera, turned Echo into the Female void, Hera is the cause of why Echo can only hope to be an acoustic reflection, and a male acoustic reflection or a silent void.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I Am Sitting In A Room

Steven Connor talks about the voice as an "organ of listening as well as of transmission"; the voice , "like flypaper, gathers things along the way" and picks up "lilts, leanings, aches, eccentricities, accents". Connor attempts to illustrate this principle of the voice becoming 'mixed' by recalling Alvin Lucier’s "I Am Sitting In A Room" (1969):

"As the voice is played, recorded, re-played and re-recorded, the voice and the room blend. By iteratively enhancing the resonant frequencies of the room, Lucier manages to let us hear the sound of how the room listens to the voice. What emerges is a new voice, an extraordinary, literally unheard of ‘mixed body’, the body of the voice as it always anyway, inaudibly is, amid things."

A co-mingling occurs, and "inundated by its own room-tone, the voice ends up ventriloquising the room." I love this thought.

More work for the "stupid organ"...

Clever use of both lungs and voice! Bass saxophonist Colin Stetson (by 02:50 he's screaming through the mouthpiece).

Part 2 here (series of loops from 05:20):

Brown Note

Tristam was talking about sonic emitters as weaponry in Auditions this afternoon. Made me wonder about gestural interfaces such as the theremin, which registers how close one is to two ariels, pitch and volume, and emits sound correspondingly. Also began thinking about the brown note.

The brown note "is a theoretical infrasonic frequency that would cause humans to lose control of their bowels due to resonance." []. Mythbusters attempted to bust the myth, see below. Watch as Barthe's "stupid organ", the lungs (The Grain of the Voice), get a workout.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Before Dubstep had ever been conceived of....

...there was the original Dub of course. Sean O'Hagan has written compellingly on dub music (although I can't find the particular article I have in mind online; it was entitled Blood & Fire, The Guardian, 1997), as has David Toop (see 'Replicant: On Dub' in 'Readings in Modern Music' for an excerpt from 'Ocean of Sound'). Toop describes dub as: "urban, rural, tropic, aquatic, lo-tech, mystical" and notes that it "anticipated remix culture" with 'versions', using music as sculptural material rather than 'copyright property' (I even have some versions at home, vinyl 45's bought in Jamaica some years ago). Would King Tubby or Lee Scratch Perry have made the same impact as Dubstep at the recent demonstrations?

Apollonian and Dionysian questions

Going back to a few key points raised in Vocalities last week regarding the polemical Apollonian and Dionysian positions and their, errr possible, convergence(s) with sound, respectively the mutilation of music, the modification and control (Socrates, Plato refs in Dolar etc) and the rather Bacchic, collective and etherial implications of Grimes presence in the 2011 London Riots (TM)  - see Marks comments from last week about the power of dubstep bass and the content in this months Wire (335), the crackle of dissent.... and, yeah, juggling a touch here, the role of echos in Plato's Cave (in Republic IIRC)... there seems to be a strong sense of unity in established logos, of conformism and social co-operation - to break is asocial(♰), selfish and of no benefit (or even of detriment) for the deluded, but logos 'understanding', many (again, in the cave)... think of The Sirens(✞) (and their legacy outlined by Prochnik)..the alogos call of dissent, and the role of Sirens as scaring/scarring - is this fear of the Siren - or it's (the Sirens) militarised function today a form of freaking the modern comfy logosphile troglodyte into conforming for the sake of society, for the sake of logos? When I think of some live music experiences I think of the adrenalin, the fluttering chest, the anxiety before succumbing to the physical surges of the crowd and the euphoria of noise and light - but this is always something you trust, something you choose to lose yourself in. Imposing the Dionysian Siren (the most effective of which are alogos - see the NYPD Rumbler device) is this not a paradoxical deployment of a Dionysian siren, a quick theological stab to remind one to face forwards and continue naming the shadows dancing on the wall?(ƨ)

♰) Isn't breaking from logos denying language?
✞) Possibly rope in and align Echo and Narcissus here too, Narcissus was repulsed by Echo's advances not because he loved himself (although he did), not because she morphed and manipulated his language but precisely because there was, arguably, NO DIAlogue  - there was no exchange and communication, but pure exo-sonics twisting his own (mono)logue. Could this be an interpretation of his reasons for exclaiming "I'll die before I yield to you"? To be outside of logos, outside of communication (which was Echo's punishment after all for gossiping with Hera (Big Z's wife yo) while Zeus played away) - was too scary, hellish a prospect for him, and even though Narcissus was a selfish (arguably aligning with Apollonian themes) the temptation of one of the nymphs would not be enough for him to abandon logos, language, communication.... For Narcissus was the ultimate anti-dioysian, he was the ultimate Self-loving, self-centered symbol, Dionysism is about the collective, the crowd, the frenzy - Narcissus would be out at the clubs much, he'd be indoors preening himself, adoring his individuality (albeit unbeknown to him), cosy in logos....
ƨ)The dyad, the extimacy could crop up here too.... is this not a scary glimmer of our own internal Dionysian/Apollonian antisyzygy

Hope this isn't too binary and simplistic, but I am getting a little wrapped up in finding threads of sonic applicable relevance between all these dyads, extimacies, syzygies, polemics and struggles....

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Monday, 5 December 2011

x x x

Perhaps I am racing a little bit too far ahead and should reserve this for the Kafka session we'll have after Christmas but thought I'd get my thoughts down in ASCII first. Also, please bear in mind that I have no psychology background or anthropology background - If am an running with the wrong end of a stick, please comment - I'd be very interested to hear some empirically based insights into this, admittedly half baked post...

I've just finished reading the Mladen Dolar book A Voice and Nothing More (yup- way late on that I know). Now I have finished it I feel pretty confident in my earlier diagrams and attempts to map Dolar's Lacanian dynamics of the Voice. So that's good.

Going back to the voice as the schism, the Moebius strip of logos and corporeal sound, of the (signifier) absences differential matrix being always locked into the dyad with nature, sound, song and temptation etc (I think I've ranted about this intrinsic relationship enough now, I think it's established) - can we think about the grey areas of this relationship? The grain of the Voice - as Barthes puts it is perhaps one of these but I'd like to focus on another: kissing.

As Dolar observed in the last chapter "Kafka's Voices" (citing The Dog by Kafka) the mouth is either useful for eating, for survival OR employed as vessel for signifiers, logos and (if there is anyone listening) communication. The architecture of the mouth is quite functionally biased for eating and a result of evolutionary survival/consuming needs rather than phonic dexterity or vocal authority. In short this whole mechanism underneath our noses are just eating apparatus that we force, and torture into speaking (like a child is potty trained - calling up Lacan's amorphous beings here). The natural remnant always remains (hence Moebius strip diagram and metaphysical applications and evidence discussed previously) but there is little doubt for me that speaking is a new fangled task we force our jaws into enduring - all for the sake of, ever dominant (via the support of the exo remnant as before), logos. So with this dichotomy of survival/nature and communication/logos I began to dwell on acts, sounds and oral-modes that straddle or bridge this dynamic or that are not strictly eating or drinking based whilst at the same time operating autonomously from the the signification absence matrix of logos-communications - I landed upon kissing.

Is a contexturalized kiss a signifier or not? A cough can be a signifer, a deliberate cough especially, but do kisses communicated in a way outside of language (again, I am using language in the broadest of terms here, a cough at an unattended counter is a signifier regardless of 'language') is a kiss more un-signified than signified? Kisses of thanks, of goodbyes, of lust and elation all carry some contexturalization from the differential matrix of logos, a kiss goodbye is mostly signified in the same contrived way that kissing a gold medal or trophy cup is (also see Proskynesis and The Kiss of Peace) - there's loads of examples - but can a naturally embedded exchange occur. The obvious connections (Desmond Morris' The Naked Ape etc) to the mouth as an erogenous zone aside (and the whole heap of metaphors, analogies and developmental relics), I'd like to explore/or ask around the voco-oral (VoC(h)oral) fetishisation. The heavily rhythmic, breath drenched sounds, in Britney Spears shameless single "I'm A Slave 4 U" is a very obvious recent example of, albeit commodified and culturally encoded, Voc(h)oral fetishism.


DJ Screw's dragged out, chopped and screwed plays of Mariah Carey, Brandy and Monica, Nate Dog, R Kelly, Phil Collins etc create swaying worlds of Voc(h)oral fetishism, lungs the size of Cadillacs breath sensuous rushes of air over the listener, any croak or drawl in the delivery is heightened to seismic  sonic dimensions - so much so that in the closing seconds of DJ Screws play of Phil Collins "In the Air tonight" Collins' vocal strains sound like the death cries of a man sinking underneath a bass filled abyss - the animal facet of the voice is re-presented and unveiled only by dropping a tone and slowing the tempo:

Another example of breaking the musically logosified voice into the call, into something more biological can be found in ✞▇ L♥ѵʒﬦɨϵﬦ ▇✞'s track ▇✞ шчԏӊѺυϮ Џ ✞▇:
✞▇ L♥ѵʒﬦɨϵﬦ ▇✞ - ▇✞ шчԏӊѺυϮ Џ ✞▇ by ✞▇ L♥ѵʒﬦɨϵﬦ ▇✞
In a paradoxical method of humanizing, or rather animalizing the voice back into something more primal and less tamed and shackled by logos and musical convention - post-production devices and the mechanisms of the turn-tables create an illusion, a crevice of sonic texture that returns the voice to the primal, pre-logos sound we (perhaps) yearn for. But I am digressing here over to more sonic/musical manifestations of animal orality and vocality.

Where does this need come from? During moments of intimacy it's odd how much a familiar voice is transformed, the transformation is partly due to passion and the physiological effects of activity but also due to proximity, I've often been struck by the loud, sharp almost uncomfortable white noise of breath, or by the bass driven vibrations of a voice re-toned (down tuned) through proximity (under similar sonic mechanics as a Doctor using a stephoscope) - are these sonic phenomena unique to physical intimacy slowly being re-created for commodification? Is this Voc(h)oral fetishism - feigning a sonic trait of animality/intimacy in order to conjure some emotion between a pair of Sennheisers?

SO back to the kiss. Voc(h)oral fetishism is, perhaps, a consequence of remembering such experiences, of hoping to re-create a similar sensation - and this is key. The sensation, a physical sensation is tied into the sonic phenomena emerging from such proximity. When a cheek is pecked in gratitude there are unique sonics that correlate with the physical exchange, the sonic aspects of such are transient and undefinable. The warmth of another's cheek, the down tuning of their voice as they reply whilst withdrawing from your kiss whilst the sound is morphed in relation (or rather in correlation) to these sensations is a large part of the dynamic I am trying to explore here. Voc(h)oral fetishism will never 'copy' the sonics of intimacy because these are mediated by sensations and, on a sensory level, orchestrated by such sensations of heat or cold, degree's of vibration, smell etc. The Voc(h)oral fetishism in the videos above is akin to Rachmaninov played on a Casio - whole chunks of the composition, of the experience are jettisoned (hence why no one is excited by Britney Spears - amongst other reasons). Again I am digressing from the purely sonic aspects the kiss and straying on to the associated poly-sensory phenomena.

Could it be that any noise emitted whilst engaged in an oral-centric practice of affection is, a-logos, the mouth, the lips and tongue are engaged in purely physical exchanges, any noise is more likely to emanate from the lungs as sound rather than 'words', as a bodily resonance rather than any formed phonic oration - is it closer to our natural (animalistic) sound before the mutilation of the oratory speaking mouth forces the vibrations and air into words. Is this why the proximity to such sounds is emotional rather than cerebral (I know there is not one without the other but for the sake of this sonic schism this explanation of responses will suffice). Is the proximity warped sound of another's stifled gasp the closest (metaphorically and physically) we will get to another's voice before the oral mechanism, originally intended for masticating, mutilates the sound in signifiers, language and code? Is the sound from such proximity closer to the sound of ourselves? The sound we hear inside our head, when we cough, shout or cry out. In short, can this be read as an ironic reversal of the Echo and Narcissus dynamic? Narcissus withdrew in horror at the otherness of his own voice spoken by Echo, if Narcissus was not narcissistic would he feel a pang of empathy and love for another's voice, being so close to the pre-logos sound of another human? Feeling Echo's original sound (not too dissimilar to his own, with the same human qualities) rather than understanding her orated words and being repulsed at the otherness.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Charles Panzera

Thought I'd post up this recording of Charles Panzera to go with the Roland Barthes essay 'The Grain of the Voice'. Also worth noting the dog (Nipper) and the gramophone, the His Masters Voice piece by Francis Barraud which, according to Dolar around page 75 pretty much sums up the voice and our relationship to it: machine and animal and no source of sound.

More on Sirens: George Prochnik - The Orchestra (Cabinet Magazine)

Fantastic article in Cabinet Magazine by George Prochnik - The Orchestra. Greek Myths, check. Modern use of sound, check.

Then I wound up here
Straying away from the metaphysics of the voice a little here (hear) but for Aural Cultures this is a pretty relevant article - the genesis of modern sirens lies in the voice anyway...

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Bad Music, The flute, The Beatles and dead symbols

OK less voco-centrism, upon the music tip now. I have noticed a lot of intriguing histories around music in the Dolar text and also through the greek myths, probably sharing a similar genesis to the history of 'dealing' with the exo-irreducible remnant part Voice (as discussed in the Dolar essay). I keep stumbling across examples of people struggling to except, or come to terms with, or just fearing the un-coded remnant side of musical communication, by musical communication I think it's fair to say that musics (I say musics, because I am not just referring to pop songs, or rock, or classical but everything that either has a system notation or can be employed as a form of musical communication - be it western or otherwise) are coded, so entrenched in this code, that it can be used in the same manner as a matrix of signifiers to 'talk', this example of Deliverance is a great:

This is pure musically coded communication, both instruments are fretted I think, there is a call and response part too - quite obvious.

However when this code is broken, or an un-coded sound dominates (shofar springs to mind here, alongside fender squalls, and football chants) we may feel uneasy, over excited, angry or worse - politically motivated. The history of classical music riots is worth recalling here, as is The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to which Autechre infamously responded... Music is littered with spontaneous reactions to the uncoded, the ghostly remainder.

So whilst Dolar traces our 'problem' of dealing with the Exo-remnant in Voice, the endless shackling of the voice to logos, the feminization, the sexualization of this sonic 'other' (resembling mirroring our literal repression of women over histories), or on the other hand the thunderingly masculine sounds of the shofar or gods voice etc.... I wonder if there are similar enquiries or studies into the history of music, stepping outside of logos, of the irreducible a-logos facet of song?

There must be. See Sirens, Mermaids, Pan, Orpheus, Plato's dislike of the flute (the un-coded instrument, the instrument that is most open to sound, the flute Plato refers to would be a small free sliding 'scale' wind instrument), The Puritans organ burning. Infact, to kick up a rather corny pop culture relic - The Beatles. After Lennon made his infamous 'bigger than Christ' comment a good old fashioned furore of burning The Beatles record broke out across some southern American states.

OK, so whilst the The Beatles records themselves are not stritchly a-logos, they are not totally uncoded, I feel it's fair to say the 'X-factor', the special appeal (sonically) may have been the anomalous sonic remnant outside of musical codification - perhaps their live shows had that extra zing that erects goosebumps, the je ne sais quoi, that special something - but lots of fantastic musicians have this, this something is not exactly ubiquitous but there are certainly a lot of sublime and inspiring musicians and performers for every generation.

I'll speculate that the catalyst for such a wax inferno was Lennon's comment. Or rather, the sonic-logos implications behind the comment. To strictly juxtapose The Beatles with Christ created an unnerving dichotomy. The uncoded sonic of The Beatles appeal, something they had and could culturally surf, against or opposed to the word, logos, the book, the Bible. One was living, moving, globe trotting and inspiring and communicated on levels that were, arguably, unbeknown previously, the pandemonium of live music, the fandom of the record etc. The charming, charismatic liverpudlians had something the good book didn't, they were alive and touching people through music, emotionally in a way that a bunch of dead symbols never would, and never will do.

This brief dominance of musicality (along with it's a-logos appendage) over logos/the good word  coupled with Lennons ill founded comments about being bigger than jesus maybe made the more logosphilial people in southern american states uneasy, some to such a degree they felt compelled to burn their own Beatles records.

I accept that a large proportion of the outrage was due to Lennon criticising Christianity. However I do wonder, even though we'll never be able to gather an empirical basis for this sequence of events and myriad subjective agendas, metaphysical, political, peer led or other (quite fittingly considering the phenomena in question), I wonder if there is not a reasonable basis for the assumption that the mixture of theological criticism, music, hysteria and uncoded a-logosonic aspects of The Beatles songs was a large part of the reason why  such events occurred.

"A change to a new type of music is something to beware of as a hazard to all our fotunes. The modes of music are never disturbed without unsettling the most fundamental political and social conventions. It is here, then, I said, that our guardians must build their guardhouse and post of watch. It is certain, he said, that this is the kind of lawlessness that easily insinuates itself unobserved.
Yes, said I, because it is supposed to be only a form of play and to work no harm.
Nor does it work any, he said, except that by gradual infiltration it softly overflows upon the characters and pursuits of men and from these issues forth grown greater to attach their business dealings, and from these relations it proceeds against the laws and the constitution with wanton license, Socrates, till it finally overthrows all things public and private."(Plato, Republic IV)


"Bacchic frenzy and all similar emotions are most suitably expressed by the flute" (Aristotle, Politics VIII)

Is there anything for the uptight logos lover to fear today? As soon as something is deemed 'new', it is absorbed into capitalism and commodified. There are economic problems now, and subsequently political problems and music feels boring and coded like never before. Is it because I am no longer a wide eyed teen reliant solely on HMV for music? Or is it because torrent sites have spoilt me and ipods jaded me? Is there anything exciting to come? Musophobia as relic - I fear.

EDIT - I'm tuggin at something here, not sure what, if it reads like i'm wringing my hands and mincing my feet to and fro it maybe because it's late and the post has drifted onto more questions than answers. I'd really like someone to recommend me some nice music analysis text around the subject I'm scraping (clumsily) at... Maybe it's just because i'm bitter that Shackleton (who programs each individual beat, so the tracks sound lifelike and organic - I wanted to work this into one of my theories) has released an eponymous LP with Pinch and it is the most anaesthetizingly dull record I've heard for some time now.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Object Voice Diagram (Tentative)

This is my attempt to graph the notion of Object Voice as I understand it so far, note it is not a loop, or circle, as the big arrows misleadingly show (these are merely present to highlight the forces which 'build' the object voice, and are, at the same time, the object voice) - the large arrows point to different sides of the Mobius strip and this is located at the convergence between Logos and Remnant. So look at the centre and imagine the Mobius strip and pan out for the details of it's strange dyadic dynamics, it's extimacy...

At first I felt the logos bubble should be much larger than the exo/remnant side, dwarfing it like an eclipse to reflect the metaphysical history Dolar runs through, but as this Logos voice is only granted authority by the remnant, and the remnant is key to allowing Logos becoming act etc... I felt I'll leave them at similar sizes - maybe through a historical perspective (if we could add a depth/history vector to the drawing - shifting from 2d to 3d) then a colossal exo remnant could lurk on the horizon but appear historically as lesser in size than the Logos realm?

The section on Hegel in Derrida's essay feels very very similar to this Object Voice notion just an anatropic, or inside out, version leaning on auto-affection? - Maybe that's just me.

EDIT - ok, I just finished the Derrida essay, I cannot see much difference (no pun, lets not go there) regarding voice between the two to be honest, Dolar twists the Exo into a helix supporting the Logos, Derrida calls on Heidegger's 'being' before showing how being cannot be outside of logos essentially.... I also feel I have been a touch harsh on Jacques, and Dolar couldn't have enjoyed such critical leverage had he quoted the line afterwards..... I can't outline this without re-hashing and transcribing whole chunks of each text....

Anyway, here is one part of Derrida's essay that sticks out like a sore thumb (concerning the similarities between Derrida's voice and Lacan/Dolar's Object Voice) - my italics....

"It is thus that, after evoking the "voice of being" Heidegger recalls that it is silent, mute, insonorous, wordless, originally a-phonic (...) The voice of the sources is not heard. A rupture between the ordinary meaning of being and the word, between meaning and the voice, between "the voice of being" and the "phone", between the "call of being" and articulated sound; such a rupture, which at once confirms a fundamental metaphor, and renders it suspect by accentuating its metaphoric discrepancy, translates the ambiguity of the Heideggerian situation with respect to the metaphysics of presence and logocentrism. It is at once contained within it and transgresses it. But it is impossible to separate the two."

P.22, - From Jacques Derrida, "The End of the Book and the Beginning of writing", from Of Grammatology

If I'm totally mis-reading this please chime in (or email me).

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Mladen Dolar links + Musings on Echo and Narcissus

This Metropolis M interview is great, I meant to mention it in the presentation but I guess I forgot, what with all the talk of Narcissus and Echo.... Dolar talks of a missing chapter that he decided not include in the book, about "the ethics, metaphysics, physics, politics of the voice".

I am still mulling over the dynamic of the Exo irreducible remnant holding not just the ultimate animating power for the Logos side of voice to be taken as an act, to grant it weight and authority, but also as an ultimate force for totally warping meaning. Like the Echo and Narcissus story, when Narcissus calls out, the exo-echo deliberately (she loves him, she's besotted with him and know she can only use his words to woo him - "she longed to come to him with winning words") warps and reconfigures the meaning of his own voice, of his own intent.

It chanced Narcissus searching for his friends,
Called 'Anyone Here?' and Echo answered 'Here!'
Amazed he looked all round and, raising his voice,
Called 'Come this way!' and Echo called 'This way!'
He looked behind, and no one coming, shouted
'Why run away?' and heard his words again.
He stopped and, cheated by the answering voice,
Called 'Join me here!', and she, never more glad
To give her answer, answered 'Join me here!'
And graced her words and ran out into the wood
To throw her longing arms around his neck.
He bolted, shouting 'Keep your arms from me!
Be off, i'll die before I yield to you.'
And all she answered was 'I yield to you'

Goldigga got told.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The phony schizophony and Derrida’s deluded phonocentrism

My Presentation Notes on Mladen Dolar's essay 'The Metaphysics of a Voice' from A Voice and Nothing More. – The phony schizophony and Derrida’s questionably founded phonocentrism….

Firstly let's re-view Lacan's Graph of Desire that Dolar opens with:
Dolar jettisons many of the finer points of this journey, of the signifier to voice trip and the signifier-out-and back into the structural ‘other’ that Lacan would focus on (the “retroactive production of meaning”, the “quilting point” or the inevitable stitching of itself back into the system -as I like to think if it, like Theseus stitching himself back into the heart of Daedalus’ labyrinth… ). Instead he (Dolar) asks why the Voice runs out into being a “remainder”. If the system, quilts signification and encodes through the re-absorption into the structure then what is this Voice that is left behind on the right side of the diagram? By this process of reduction, a remainder is left behind – this is the object voice. It’s outside of the system, an outcome, it doesn’t signify (that facet of the voice is swimming about in the middle of the graph). It is the remainder left ofter the signification. So whilst there is a phonological / language voice drifting around the system, being re-quilted in meaning, being coded, there is also a strange a-phonological remnant.

“It is a non-signifying remainder resistant (immune) to the signifying operations, a leftover heterogeneous to structural logic…and as such it seems to present a sort of counterweight to differentiality; the differential always refers to absence whilst the voice seems to embody a presence” – Dolar P. 36

Signification(s), structure(s) etc are webs and cosmos of absences but this voice is the remainder after this structure of signification (through absence), it is the positive remnant that signification and phonology cannot accommodate, cannot ‘work’.

So phonology/logos/the internal structures of signification/codifications can deal with the differences, the absences – they are in some respects constituted from absences. These structures of signification can work the absences and differences, but this remainder, this anomalous positive, elusive ghostly object voice, the Voices irreducible “missing half” seems “to enable this negative being to acquire some hold in positivity, a ‘substance’ a relationship to presence” Dolar P. 36.

So from this split, between

Absence(s) and ‘Presence’
Codified and Un-coded
Signification and Immune to signification
Reducible and Remnants of reduction
Negative and Positive
Systemic interior and Exterior

Dolar asks

“Does the voice essentially relate to presense after the symbolic has done away with all the positive features? Is pure presense, then, the remaining residue? Does the object voice, as the necessary implication of the structural intervention run into the notorious “metaphysics of presense” as its most recent and most insidious variation?” Dolar P. 37

By this Dolar is, as I understand, asking: Does this renegade remnant, this voice that is immune to the signification system, or is left behind after it’s reductions and subsequent phonologic abuses, does this remainder mean presence? Does it really?

From this Dolar looks at metaphysics history of phonocentricism emerging from phonologo-ism or rather a paranoid shizophony, of consistently taking phonocentric presuppositions concerning the Voice – something that has often lead to us seeing the Voice as closer to meaning (because of a presupposed presence) than writing which is derivative. – “It consisted in the simple and seemingly self-evident assumption that the voice is the basic element of language, it’s natural embodiment and consubstantial with it, whereas writing presents its derivative, auxiliary and parasitic supplement (it merely fixes the spoken word)…” Dolar P.37

Dolar goes on to talk of how the metaphysical tradition has always supported the priority of the voice, and the voices unique proximity to essence of meaning because of auto affectation (amongst other things):

“The voice offered the illusion that one could get immediate access to an unalloyed presence, an origin not tarnished by externality, a firm rock against the elusive interplay of signs which are anyway surrogates by their very nature, and always point to an absence” Dolar P.37

Dolar then goes on to quote Saussure twice, each quote displaying a sentiment opposed to the other – outlining the paradoxical conundrum of the voice and its primacy of presence over writing – begging the question of where is language? Is true language in the voice or in the text? Because, and I hope I’m not over simplifying these notions here, if language is signification and they are absence(s) then the immediate presence afforded voice by the auto-affectation (for now) is not absence – but presence. Also, the voice is, a la the metaphysical traditions and subsequent phonocentrism closer to the essence of meaning, less removed – not quite a dead symbol like its other logosified mute cousin.

Dolar: “The subsequent fate of phonology was thus caught between the two as well: between, on the one hand, its unquestionable prejudice that the voice was the natural material of language, and thus the evident place to start; and, on the other hand, it’s (phonology) operations which dismantled the living presence of the voice into the lifeless differential matrix (..) – except for the residue, the remnant, which Lacan has taken to be the paradoxical OBJECT VOICE” Dolar P. 38

Dolar then goes on to re-iterate how metaphysical tradition maintains that the voice is the ultimate, with no trace of alterity – and that it does so by maintaining this idea of the voice as that golden nugget of auto-affectation – this divide between interior and exterior derives from here.

He then quotes Derrida, and in this context Derrida looks like he naively treats the voice as gospel, or rather that his phonocentrism comes from the ‘wrong’ place, aligning with the metaphysical traditions, as the voice as the closest purest form of the signifier “producing itself spontaneously from within the self” Dolar P.37 quoting Derrida.

Dolar doesn’t dwell on the phraseology of this quote from Derrida, but I’d like to just (to rub a little more salt into this Lacanian wound)….. “PRODUCING ITSELF” this really is a million miles away form the phonological, logos, the writing, signification of text and what we later find to be exterior rather than interior…. To say producing itself is to disregard the network of differences and the chasms of absences this shows just how interior and close to the essence of meaning Derrida considers the voice to be – “the origin of conceptuality, between vocality and ideality”. Dolar P. 37

Dolar then goes onto to examine how even though the voice is the primary auto-affectation, the first instance of putting something out there and being aware of it (our little trick to know presence – supposedly), it is not the same as the mirror stage. The roots of this notion are found in Narcissus’ relationship with the nymph Echo, the details (of all the myths) are enthralling – but the point of this mythic example is that Narcissus loved his reflection, but he didn’t love his echo (despite not being aware that this voice was an echo initially..), his voice bouncing back at himself – because the moment there is a surface to bounce our voices back at us our “Narcissism crumbles.” Dolar  P. 40

“As soon as the object (..) voice appears as the pivotal point of narcissistic self-apprehension, it introduces a rupture at the core of self presence. It is something that cannot itself be present, although the whole (metaphysical, derridian, historical) notion of presence is constructed around it” Dolar P. 42

“So if, for Derrida, the essence of the voice lies in auto-affectation and self transparency, as opposed to the trace, the rest, the alterity, and so on, for Lacan this is where the problem starts” Dolar P. 42

So for Lacan, “This object voice embodies the very impossibility of attaining auto-affectation; it introduces a scission, a rupture in the middle of full self presence, and refers it to a void, a void in which the voice comes to resonate” Dolar P. 42

In the section titled A brief course in the history of metaphysics. Dolar re-examines the phonocentric bias of Derrida in relation to the phonological tendencies that have cropped up throughout history… I won’t regurgitate all the examples he runs through, but to sum this strategy up crudely it’s basically that for millennia there has been an enforced logosification of sound and voice and music. This Logophony, this phony phonology has been working to shirk away from the exteriority of the voice (and in many ways shows the bias in dealing with such a schism)

“the voice should not stray away from the words which endow it with sense; as soon as it departs from its textual anchorage, the voice becomes senseless and threatening” Dolar P. 43

Dolar goes through Plato, Aristotle, Chinese emperor Chun, Wagner, Saint Augustine… throwing up example after example that consistently show the long established tradition of reigning in the voice to text, of always having an urge of shackling it into textual signification, away from the sensuous, dangerous and scary realm of resonance and alien exteriority. This tradition is not just confined to words, it extends to music too – and I can’t but feel Leonard Bernsteins example of children saying Nurr Nurr Nuh Nurr nuh as e e  Ff e Ff is worth chucking in here…. Sonologos…. Music turning into significations/absences - text and codes…

Along this journey Dolar also mentions of how the voice sound, outside of logos can be harnessed for good, as an appreciation of god, as something to “animate the energy of the defenders of equality”. So all the way from Plato’s hatred of the flute to Hildeberg of Bingen’s cunning reversal of sonic roles in relation to good and evil in her Ordo Virtutum there is a dichotomy between the sound of utter joy or depravity that is immune to signification and irreducible and exterior – the object voice AND the voice as text, as something which follows words -  here is the schism, the lacanian problem that Dolar shows to be perhaps more than just a Lacanian interpretation but an issue that has been battled with ever since Narcissus said to his own voice: “I’d rather die than fall prey to you”.

Dolar sums up: “from this brief (..) survey we can draw the tentative conclusion that the history of ‘logocentrism’ does not quite go hand in hand with ‘phonocentrism’, that there is a dimension of the voice which runs counter to self transparency, sense and presense: the voice against logos, the voice as the other of logos, its radical alterity.” Dolar P. 52

Dolar talks of how metaphysics can only yield phonocentrism and the voice as presence by demoting writing AND ALSO ignoring or banishing the sensuous aspect of the voice and disavowing it’s inherent alterity.

“The presence of the present in the voice becomes doubtful the moment sense is eluded, (and as we know there is always that nonsensical, un-coded, to put it bluntly, remnant), and this dissociation is at the core of the Lacanian operation”


…this division, this schism is not “the proper dimension of the object voice. It is only here that the Lacanian problem really starts”. Dolar P. 52

Shofar: Examples of the remnant as the masculine, and gods voice – a is now b and b is now a…. phonologos’ authority comes from the only part that is not law, that is not logos…

Personally I like this part of the essay least, I feel the leap to the father’s ominous sonic presence a touch ‘clunky’, nonetheless, I’ll talk a little bit about this next step because it provides a nice springboard for introducing a Derridian betweenism…

So throughout the text Dolar has talked about the remnant outside of phonology… - there is always a part of voice that is incompatible and immune to logos…. But Dolar now introduces a nifty notion here – a paradoxical interpretation of the voice we have outlined so far. He explains how the gravity of gods voice, the shofar, the authority of the father (that is the signified part of the voice) only holds it’s authority through it’s remnant – it’s noise, it’s sound outside of signification.

“it seems that the voice, as a senseless (that’s the unsignified logos-immune remnant) remainder of the letter, is what endows the letter with authority, making it not just a signifier, but an act (…) as Lacan says: ‘that something which completes the relation of the subject to the signifier in what might be called, in the first approach, passage a l’acte’, Those primordial signifiers are inherently acts, namely something that happens when the signifier is not just articulated (..) but when it is uttered and vocalized” Dolar P. 55

Ss the logos facet of voice, can only become an act, holding enough weight to be the law or the father, because its remnant, what we have previously been referring to as the exo/object voice, has imparted the weight of act into it’s signification reduced brother – “it is the part which can never be simply present, but is not simply absence either: the object voice is the pivotal point precisely at the intersection of presence and absence” Dolar P. 55

At this point I’ll throw out the Derridian notion of Hymen (for those who are familiar) if not I’ll define this concept shortly, as will Dolar inadvertently.

Dolar on the two sides of this voice now..”…they are both the same, (..) there are not two voices, but only the object voice which cleaves and bars the other in an ineradictable (undestroyable) extimacy” Dolar P. 56

Extimacy meaning both inside and outside simultaneously and inherently but each is always in or out – exterior intimacy….

So in a very double, Mobius, paradoxical manner, the object voice is actually the composition/fusion/conflict of logos voice, because the logos voice is only given its authority, its act, by the ghostly un-logosifyable remnant – the sound. So the object voice is neither the reduced or the remnant, it is neither exo or interior it is both, the fusion.

“Masculine and feminine positions would then be two ways of tackling the same impossibility; they arise from the same predicament as two internally linked versions of dealing with the same object which retains in ineradictable ambiguity” Dolar P. 56

So, taking in hand the history of the feminine other/exo voice plaguing metaphysical histories, Christianity, the Greeks and so on and masculine (the Shofar, gods voice, logosification, the reduced etc) I’d like to ask if we are not dealing with a kind of hermaphroditic paradoxical object voice, a dyad of ineradicable extimacy?

Questions, thought food:

1)    Is this logosification of the voice still at work today more than ever? Continuing to hide it’s alterior remnant, think Vo-coders, auto-tuners, think samplers, think the Wilhelm scream robbed of any biological urgency or emotional weight through repetition and being reduced to a mere ‘horror signifier’.

2) Think of the male/female then logos/remnant positions of the voice that is at once presence and absence interior and exterior – can we use Derrida’s Pharmakos (remedy and poison) or Derrida’s Hymen notion (the inbetween that prevents but also consummates) – not to be too phallocentric but I think this analogy, this strategy has legs…

“The opposition of inside vs. outside is a frequent returning point of Derrida's interest. An example is found in his writing about the hymen. Hymen, the virginal membrane, but also the consummation of a marriage. (In Greek and Latin mythology, 'hymen' refers to the God of matrimony and to a hymeneal song.) As a protective screen, as an invisible veil, it stands between the inside and the outside of a woman, and consequently between (male?) desire and fulfillment. As a (con)fusion between two people (marriage), however, there is no longer any difference between desire and satisfaction. So, hymen both implies communion and hinders this communion; it is both barrier and interaction. Hymen is a fusion that abolishes contraries, for example, the difference between desire and its accomplishment. But hymen is also the fold of a mucous membrane that keeps them separate (cf. Dissemination, 209-18). 
It is not a matter of choice here. If we would choose between the two, there would be no hymen. Hymen is neither fusion nor separation, but stands between the two. Neither inside nor outside, but between the two. 'It is an operation that both sows confusion between opposites and stands between the opposites at once' (Dissemination, p.212). And it is the 'between' that counts. It outwits, as Derrida says, all manner of dialectics”

3) What do people enjoy about the voice and music (now we accept music is essentially a language – cue micro tone problems).. Think jimi Hendrix missing notes, think Florence at Glastonbury avoiding most notes etc etc

4) How can we read the massive rise in echo and reverb in modern pop music? Think witch house, drag, hauntological stuff, Maria Minerva!?!?! Is this echo effect abuse a strategy to bring the voice further into alterity and void of signification? Or a burgeoning form of voco-narcissism?

5)The MP3 as a metaphor for signifiers, absences, gaps – the MP3 a simulacra, signifiers with no object voice, with no remnant – can this be used for thinking about records, torrents, itunes in relation to live performance, gig experience, crowd sonix etc

few notes...

I read the Ovid story about Narcissus and Echo, I would have loved to include a painting or etching of Echo and Narcissus, but the only versions I could find depicted them as getting along quite well, and in the text it's obvious that as soon as Narcissus meets Echo and realises she is not who he's looking for he dislikes her.

Also in the Ovid text I have (translated by A.D. Melville) there is a lot of word play. For example when Narcissus says in disgust after Echo tries to hug him "I'd rather die than yield to you" Echo replies "I yield to you".... before this when Narcissus is looking for his friends and asks "Anyone here?" Echo replies "Here!" I think there maybe some scope for thinking around the logos facet's meaning only being subject to the exo-remnants desires etc, you can say the words but the un-coded remnant will betray you....

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Just been sent a link to A Topological Approach to Cultural Dynamics - Lacan used Topology. Maybe worth a browse if you're looking for a visual method of communicating a concept. That said, I do worry that almost everything I think about right now can (for me) be summed up as either a Klein bottle or a Mobius strip...

Lacan's Graph of Desire - with key

Hi All

Here is Lacan's Graph of Desire, I thought the version with the key might be helpful - so it's up here whilst the discussion is still fresh in our minds.

I'll clean up my notes about the Dolar essay and put them here too this week

Friday, 20 May 2011

In Mark Fisher's lecture about the crackle, one concept stuck with me the most--the idea of the iSociety, based on immediate connectedness to the entire world which is concurrent with an immense metaphysical isolation. I think he called it "connected loneliness," or "networked loneliness."

It's as if Adam Curtis was at the lecture and used it as the inspiration for this new documentary of his, "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace":

The Angry-dad-ification of Marshall Mathers

Having been twelve and amidst a large cohort of urban white kids, I remember vividly Eminem's dramatic entrance onto the national scene in 1999. For the first time, it seemed, the familial, oedipal, self-harming psychoses of a white youth were placed alongside the gangstafied funk and soul revivals of a black producer-icon, Dr. Dre. It was as if Kurt Cobain had been reborn, in a black neighborhood, with a sense of humor. A perverse kind of musical cotton candy, it became the quintessential youth "headmusic," to borrow Kodwo Eshun's phrase. For the entirety of my 13-year-old life I could remember men in the neighborhood blasting hip hop from huge, lumbering American cars as they passed my house. Eminem seemed to be the first massive rap artist who was immune to this type of broadcasting. Yet every private-school boy, mostly white and asian, had a copy, bootleg or genuine, of the Slim Shady LP and its darker followup, the Marshall Mathers LP.

Hey, kids! Do you like violence?

Eminem's appeal seemed solely male, a sort of musical accompaniment to the first-person-shooter game, each track repeating, in explicit and gory detail, a series of assaults and overdoses (See, for instance, "Brain Damage"). It was their outlandishness, their absurdity, that made them OK to us, and this appetite for the fantastic may have been Eminem's way of refusing the compulsion to prove his "street cred"--the stories, like those of Slick Rick, were often so entertaining that nobody cared to ask if they were true or not. At the same time, though, there were stories about his relationship with Kim that made people hope they weren't true. One of the moments in Eminem that I loved the most was his hook on the track "Role Model":

I came to the club drunk with a fake ID
Don't you wanna grow up to be just like me!
I've been with 10 women who got HIV
Now don't you wanna grow up to be just like me!
I got genital warts and it burns when I pee
Don't you wanna grow up to be just like me!
I tie a rope around my penis and jump from a tree
You probably wanna grow up to be just like me!!!

His joy at the prospect of his own imaginary castration set him far apart from other hip hop artists, even Dre himself, for whom the mention of one's own penis could only be a metaphoric reference to size and power. Eminem's antics were all in the service of the overarching philosophical journey towards "just not giving a fuck".

I would not, then, have guessed that Eminem's career would proceed the way it has, although, looking back, I really can't imagine how else it could have gone. Nowadays, his tracks are inevitably put together by superstar producers and played almost as a kind of "urban easy listening," that is to say, everywhere that plays hip hop music--malls, convenience stores, salons. His new ("post-addiction-metamorphosis") tracks lack the utter Dionysian destructiveness of his early ones, but are no less angry or violent. Nowadays, he yells like a middle-aged alcoholic, his voice devoid of the mischief and humor of the bleached-blonde days. His tracks have always, since "My Name Is," been mainstream, but now they occupy a different mainstream, one which includes middle-aged people, black people, and women. That's not to say that black people never listened to Eminem at the beginning, but I remember the moment when D12 came out as a turning point, at which a black kid I knew told me he thought the early stuff wasn't very good, but this new stuff was better. At the beginning he really was Elvis to many people, the white guy stealing the art form and making a lot of money off of it. Now he's just another abusive dad, his anger completely uncontroversial, the pitched rage of his voice used to "balance out" the soulful harmonies of the female singer he accompanies. I don't mean to suggest that his anger was more controversial when he directed his vitriol toward Christina Aguilera, Fred Durst, Insane Clown Posse, and Mariah Carey. But in those days it fooled people for whom the entire world consisted of MTV into thinking that he really was rocking the boat. Nowadays he's another jealous, over-the-hill lover, yelling at Rihanna: "I'ma tie you to the bed and set this house on fire!!"

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

"Generation Gaga doesn’t identify with powerful vocal styles because their own voices have atrophied"

Lady Gaga and the death of sex

Camille Paglia / Published: 12 September 2010

An erotic breaker of taboos or an asexual copycat? Camille Paglia, America's foremost cultural critic, demolishes an icon.

Lady Gaga is the first major star of the digital age. Since her rise, she has remained almost continually on tour. Hence, she is a moving target who has escaped serious scrutiny. She is often pictured tottering down the street in some outlandish get-up and fright wig. Most of what she has said about herself has not been independently corroborated… “Music is a lie”, “Art is a lie”, “Gaga is a lie”, and “I profusely lie” have been among Gaga’s pronouncements, but her fans swallow her line whole…

She constantly touts her symbiotic bond with her fans, the “little monsters”, who she inspires to “love themselves” as if they are damaged goods in need of her therapeutic repair. “You’re a superstar, no matter who you are!” She earnestly tells them from the stage, while their cash ends up in her pockets. She told a magazine with messianic fervour: “I love my fans more than any artist who has ever lived.” She claims to have changed the lives of the disabled, thrilled by her jewelled parody crutches in the Paparazzi video.

Although she presents herself as the clarion voice of all the freaks and misfits of life, there is little evidence that she ever was one. Her upbringing was comfortable and eventually affluent, and she attended the same upscale Manhattan private school as Paris and Nicky Hilton. There is a monumental disconnect between Gaga’s melodramatic self-portrayal as a lonely, rebellious, marginalised artist and the powerful corporate apparatus that bankrolled her makeover and has steamrollered her songs into heavy rotation on radio stations everywhere.
Lady Gaga is a manufactured personality, and a recent one at that. Photos of Stefani Germanotta just a few years ago show a bubbly brunette with a glowing complexion. The Gaga of world fame, however, with her heavy wigs and giant sunglasses (rudely worn during interviews) looks either simperingly doll-like or ghoulish, without a trace of spontaneity. Every public appearance, even absurdly at airports where most celebrities want to pass incognito, has been lavishly scripted in advance with a flamboyant outfit and bizarre hairdo assembled by an invisible company of elves.

Furthermore, despite showing acres of pallid flesh in the fetish-bondage garb of urban prostitution, Gaga isn’t sexy at all – she’s like a gangly marionette or plasticised android. How could a figure so calculated and artificial, so clinical and strangely antiseptic, so stripped of genuine eroticism have become the icon of her generation? Can it be that Gaga represents the exhausted end of the sexual revolution? In Gaga’s manic miming of persona after persona, over-conceptualised and claustrophobic, we may have reached the limit of an era…

Gaga has borrowed so heavily from Madonna (as in her latest video-Alejandro) that it must be asked, at what point does homage become theft? However, the main point is that the young Madonna was on fire. She was indeed the imperious Marlene Dietrich’s true heir. For Gaga, sex is mainly decor and surface; she’s like a laminated piece of ersatz rococo furniture. Alarmingly, Generation Gaga can’t tell the difference. Is it the death of sex? Perhaps the symbolic status that sex had for a century has gone kaput; that blazing trajectory is over…

Gaga seems comet-like, a stimulating burst of novelty, even though she is a ruthless recycler of other people’s work. She is the diva of déjà vu. Gaga has glibly appropriated from performers like Cher, Jane Fonda as Barbarella, Gwen Stefani and Pink, as well as from fashion muses like Isabella Blow and Daphne Guinness. Drag queens, whom Gaga professes to admire, are usually far sexier in many of her over-the-top outfits than she is.

Peeping dourly through all that tat is Gaga’s limited range of facial expressions. Her videos repeatedly thrust that blank, lugubrious face at the camera and us; it’s creepy and coercive. Marlene and Madonna gave the impression, true or false, of being pansexual. Gaga, for all her writhing and posturing, is asexual. Going off to the gym in broad daylight, as Gaga recently did, dressed in a black bustier, fishnet stockings and stiletto heels isn’t sexy – it’s sexually dysfunctional.

Compare Gaga’s insipid songs, with their nursery-rhyme nonsense syllables, to the title and hypnotic refrain of the first Madonna song and video to bring her attention on MTV, Burning Up, with its elemental fire imagery and its then-shocking offer of fellatio. In place of Madonna’s valiant life force, what we find in Gaga is a disturbing trend towards mutilation and death…

Gaga is in way over her head with her avant-garde pretensions… She wants to have it both ways – to be hip and avant-garde and yet popular and universal, a practitioner of gung-ho “show biz”. Most of her worshippers seem to have had little or no contact with such powerful performers as Tina Turner or Janis Joplin, with their huge personalities and deep wells of passion.

Generation Gaga doesn’t identify with powerful vocal styles because their own voices have atrophied: they communicate mutely via a constant stream of atomised, telegraphic text messages. Gaga’s flat affect doesn’t bother them because they’re not attuned to facial expressions.

Gaga's fans are marooned in a global technocracy of fancy gadgets but emotional poverty. Borderlines have been blurred between public and private: reality TV shows multiply, cell phone conversations blare everywhere; secrets are heedlessly blabbed on Facebook and Twitter. Hence, Gaga gratuitously natters on about her vagina…