Thursday, September 20, 2007

Suspiria (1977), part 1

Possibly my alltime favorite movie. This seems to be from the original Italian cut; I think I've only seen the Americanized (bowdlerized) version. Whateever, the *amazing* Goblin score is as spectacular as ever.

Fleetwood Mac Tusk USC Trojan Marching Band UCLA SUCKS 1979

Good God, I love Fleetwood Mac!And Marching Bands! and the song Tusk!And this video!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Powers of 10

By the amazing Chalres and ray Eames, tho I think there's an earlier version of it in black and white.


My favorite response to this in the comments field: "What the cock cheese is going on here? Acid Rock?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy

Watching this with the sound off is interesting.

Friday, September 07, 2007

"What Would Judy Say"

First, a list of terms I'd like to remember and use but often have a hard time with since etymology is a dark and mystifying labyrinth I often find myself wandering aimlessly in:


"originally and more broadly a method of logical reasoning or argument by denial, a way of telling what something is by telling what it is not, a process-of-elimination way of talking about something by talking about what it isn't.

A useful inductive technique when given a limited universe of possibilities, the exclusion of all but the one remaining is affirmation through negation The familiar guessing-game of "Is it bigger than a bread box?" is an example of apophatic inquiry.

This denotation has generally fallen into disuse and is frequently overlooked, although it is still current in certain contexts, such as mysticism and Negative theology.

An apophatic theology sees God as ineffable and attempts to describe God in terms of what God is not. Apophatic statements refer to transcendence in this context, as opposed to cataphasis referring to immanence.


An anacoluthon is a rhetorical device that can be loosely defined as a change of syntax within a sentence. More specifically, anacoluthons (or "anacolutha") are created when a sentence abruptly changes from one structure to another. Grammatically, anacoluthon is an error; however, in rhetoric it is a figure that shows excitement, confusion, or laziness. In poetics it is sometimes used in dramatic monologues and in verse drama. In prose, anacoluthon is often used instream of consciousness writing, such as that of James Joyce, because it is characteristic of informal human thought.

In its most restrictive meaning, anacoluthon requires that the introductory elements of a sentence lack a proper object or complement. For example, if the beginning of a sentence sets up a subject and verb, but then the sentence changes its structure so that no direct object is given, the result is anacoluthon. Essentially, it requires a change of subject or verb from the stated to an implied term. The sentence must be "without completion" (literally what "anacoluthon" means). A sentence that lacks a head, that supplies instead the complement or object without subject, is anapodoton.

As a figure, anacoluthon directs a reader's attention, especially in poetry, to the syntax itself and highlights the mechanics of the meaning rather than the object of the meaning. It can, therefore, be a distancing technique in some poetry."


I came across the term anacoluthon quite recently in an essay by Celeste Langan on Coleridge, Daniel Schreber, and communication theory, and it occurred to me it might be relevant to Kasey Mohammad's recent posts on catachresis in terms of arrangement or syntax. I suppose that's what happens when you start talking about language and meaning-- terms, definitions, uses start to overlap and resonate. Since I felt unsure about my understanding of these terms and my reliance on Oed/wikipedia definitions, I've been looking around for a better understanding of these rhetorical and etymologically flexible terms. So far, all I've really found are simplistic definitions used for poetry or rhetoric classes. I asked Barrett about anacoluthon and he mentioned that it crops up in a work by Ron Silliman--can't recall the name-- in which it is self-reflexively positioned within a "new sentence" as a definer of the new sentence and as what it purports to define. That is, it is both index and sign, both "inside" and "outside" the poem. Clever, that. Reminds me of conceptual art, or the verbal/visual puns of DuChamp.

Also, and not to step on Kasey's toes here (as if he cares or reads this), I became intrigued by the term and the concept of catachresis, when I came across its use in Judith Butler's Antigone's Claim. I remember being a bit obsessed with Butler's emphasis on Antigone's catachretic speech acts as evidence of the subject's exclusion from, or unrepresentable function within, the legal/political/ social systems and discourses she was both overturning and submitting to. Catachretic meaning(s), then, develop out of the position of the marginalized subject (marginalized as gendered, female, daughter, sister, motherless non-citizen, NoOne), and pushes at the boundaries of the political dimension, a dimension that is rhetorical and poetic as much as it is seemingly contained within a drama about kinship relations. That is, the work, of course, combines dialogue, argument, metaphor, syntax, plot, action, climax, resolution-- all of which unfold precisely in a moment of linguistic, and thus representational crisis. Antigone's claim, --for her brother's body, for the right to legitimately mourn, to chose her destiny, to claim her deed and act of burial-- can only be catachretically stated/represented.

Butler points to Antigone's statement: "Yes, I confess: I will not deny my deed" as not, precisely and crucially, the same as directly claiming the act. To "not deny" is to refuse to "perform a denial" and even as the "Yes, I confess" claims the act, "it also commits another deed in the very claiming, the act of publishing one's deed, a new criminal venture that redoubles and takes the place of the old" (8). This exemplifies the complex condition of language and agency that the marginalized subject exists within. Antigone's tragic insistence on mourning the unmournable--her brother and her nephew--is her "real" claim or, rather, desire, and it is, ultimately, in excess of the (representably) political and social. Yet catachresis is, finally, for Butler--and in opposition to both Hegel's and Lacan's readings of Antigone as a perversion of the public/private dimension or as a symbol of the death drive--a condition of possibility, as it registers the mobility of and in language.

Obviously, Butler's conception of catachresis is primarily rhetorical, not really poetic or, as Kasey (and Anne Boyer) are using it, syntactic, nor is it even, as the standard definitions explain-- metaphorical "abuse." Yet, as a figure of speech/language, catachresis performs a relation to the social and political subject (in public language), which is, I think, a crucial move that a merely "poetic" sense of the term might miss. I suppose my "merely poetic" is unfairly minimizing the significant issue of referentiality and poetic meaning. But I'd like to think that an examination of figures of speech and representability in rhetorical terms can and should be placed alongside poetic descriptions that highlight Jakobson's "message for its own sake," perhaps providing a bridge across critical and discursive gaps. I suppose what I'm trying to say is something like: the separation between the rhetorical and the poetic as methods--as modes of analysis and critical discourses that analyze language and forms in the world--should not be, and cannot be, so strictly separated.

This idea that rhetorical and poetic analysis occupy a blurry boundary resonates, I think, with Butler's argument that the separation of the public/private or the policing of the universal as always and only a public, heteronormative, transparent, rationalized domain that must exclude the private, irrational, particular "other" is ultimately undone by the complexity and mutability of figurative language. As Butler suggests, Antigone "figures the threshold between the public and kinship relations, and her unassimilable act productively haunts the margins within the Law." Catachresis--as an "active trace"--haunts the public domain and its "hasty foreclosures." In a way, Butler is asking, or, rather, I'm prompted to ask by way of thinking through Butler: "where does catachresis take place--what form does it take, what space(s) does it occupy?-- if in some crucial way it depends on the subject who speaks it? Where are "the margins within" located and what are the ways in which we come to know who occupies them ?

Butler on Hegel and the law:

"Hegel has clearly identified the law for which Antigone speaks as the unwritten law of the ancient gods, one that appears only by way of an active trace.... A law for which no origin can be found, a law whose trace can take no form, whose authority is not directly communicable through written language. If it is communicable, this law would emerge through speech, but a speech that cannot be spoken from script and, so, certainly not the script of a play.... Thus the figure of this other law calls into question the literalism of the play, Antigone: no words in this play will give us this law, no words in this play will recite the strictures of this law.

"Does [Antigone], as Lacan suggests, 'push to the limit the realization of something that might be called the pure and simple desire of death as such'? And is her desire merely to persist in criminality to the point of death? Is Lacan right that 'Antigone chooses to be purely and simply the guardian of the being of the criminal as such' or does this criminality assert an unconscious right, marking a legality prior to codification on which the symbolic in its hasty foreclosures must founder, establishing the question of whether there might be new grounds for communicability and for life?" {55 Butler}.

And, further on: "The encrypted word that carries an irrecoverable history, a history that, by virtue of its irrecoverability and its enigmatic afterlife in words, bears a force whose origin and end cannot fully be determined."

Notice that the "encrypted word" and Antigone's encryption or living burial are conflated here in order to suggest that Antigone's future, the future of the play entitled Antigone-- and her "enigmatic afterlife" as a subject-- is uncertain.

And, finally, i want to remember how figuration is so crucial to all this. What do we mean exactly, by a subject that "figures" and "figurative language"? Is figuration an act?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ilya Prigogine

Science, time, art, culture, determinism, chance, hope.

from Pound's Canto LXXXI

But to have done instead of not doing
This is not vanity
To have, with decency, knocked
That a Blunt should open
To have gathered from the air a live tradition
or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame
this is not vanity.
Here error is all in the not done,
all in the diffidence that faltered . . .

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Steve Reich on WCW's "The Desert Music"

From Perfect Sound Forever. The influence of Williams on Reich is new info to me. I'm intrigued.

"PSF: Did you also have the idea that you wanted to explore the semantics of what was being said?

In those days, I was very interested in American poetry. My interest in William Carlos Williams which surfaced in "Desert Music" was something that goes back to when I was 16. Reading Williams led to reading a lot of younger American poets like Robert Creely and Charles Olson who were very influenced by Williams. Williams himself was influenced by American speech rhythms. The difficulty that I had as a student setting Williams was that I felt that I had set him like you would set an insect in amber. You'd set it alright but he's dead as a doornail. After I discovered all the constantly changing meters in "Tehillim" I thought 'hey, here's a way of dealing with the flexible rhythms in Williams' poetry in "The Desert Music."'

But the tape pieces, it seemed to me, were a way of taking Dr. Williams' advice. Here's American speech rhythm, particularly in the case of the black Pentacostal preacher and later in the black kid who was arrested for murder, then presenting it just as it is and letting the actual rhythm and cadence of the voice form the music.

PSF: So you were also studying the musical tone of their speech?

Yes, absolutely. If you listen to a black preacher, sometimes it's hard to say whether they're singing or speaking. They're exactly in the cusp between speech and song. It's a very mannered kind of speaking. It's almost chanting. So it was perfect for this kind of tape manipulation. Later, when I did "Come Out," to get that one little phrase 'come to out to show them,' I went through ten hours of tapes- boys, police, mothers, everyone you could imagine. This one phrase seemed emblematic. The speech-melody is everything. It then generates all kinds of variations upon itself melodically and on the meaning of the words."

Read the whole thing here

AMM... MEV...OHM...Ah...

Cool music-y things:

The electronic improvisational ensemble MEV's blog.

Alvins Curran's (of MEV) website with interesting interviews, essays scores, etc. All the writings are of special interest not just for their musical knowledge or historical contexts, but because of the ways in which they show a musician's interaction with language. In other words, Curran is an interesting writer. For example Curran's short "Biography of Fredric Rzewski":

"Socrates buttonholed Rzewski in the Harvard yard and bluntly asked "Rzewski, why are you so contemporary?" Cage, appearing indignantly from behind a resonant mushroom, objected, "but Socrates, that's my line from the Norton Lecture IV." And Socrates, removing his dark glasses and thoughtfully putting his alto sax on a marble bench, returned: "dear sir, chance operations are only part of this existential mesostic, besides Rzewski's my main man." Then Rzewski, convulsed but elated by this cabal of "Pesci d'Aprile" and with a digital segue faster than MTV, pulled his right hand from under his left armpit and with it the crumpled score of his new opera Das Kapital and flung it - as if Discobolus whirling a frisbee - into the Charles River. When Zeus and Thoreau, both witnesses to this act, swooped down like a pair of mating osprey to grab the sopping score, they braked and split, when they saw the fisherman Martin Buber calmly humming a talmudic air as he reeled in this now fully baptized catch, thinking he'd caught a big carp. Whether this led to his famous book "Oy or Thou" we will never know but the wet opera and some years later the entire archive of the legendary roman legion MEV was tossed down the incinerator shoot in Rzewski's Washington Heights apartment building. A radical proceedure for drying damp music but nonetheless one which quickly reduced the entropy factor by 100% compared to having to perform or listen it. Some have described Rzewski's life as a kind of last month's Time magazine in a hospital emergency room, and others as a page from Plato's Parmenide - both equally incomprehensible and both equally promising a comprehensive understanding of all things. The origins are obscure (Rzewski himself having spent much of his life wondering where he came from) but Slavic scholars claim the word Rzewski refers to a protomusical form of improvisation practiced by pregnant women in regions of the Carpathian Mountains while the Ukranian school found that Rzewski is the Kabbalistic spelling for a secret group of Medieval anarchists who invented the Yiddish language. In any case all agree the the word means peace and trouble, often at the same time. Now to the facts. In l969 Steve ben-Israel was leaving on a special Living Theater mission for Cuba to encourage the Cigar industry there to return to rolling their own; before he left he gave Rzewski a piece of plate glass in the shape of a piano which Frederic (as he was known to his friends) applied a contact mike to and immediately taught himself to play. It was here, that Rzewski heard "music" for the first time, because he was making it as if for the first time and in those unifed times that meant for both him and everyone else. Hence, MUSIC was born in a dank, smelly cavernous old foundery in Transtiberium (now known as the Trastevere quartier of old Rome). This was exactly 31 years after Rzewski himself was born in Westfield Mass. slightly to the southeast of his father's Pharmacy. His childhood was aided by normal polish-american food, the radio and a desire to remake the world from scratch, to do this he helped his father fly to work gathered mushrooms, with his brothers and sisters and sat at the family piano thinking what a strange and mysterious sound was that of the word Chopin (Show Pan) - to be sure, just another polish-american composer like himself, like he would become."

From the music site Furious or Perfect Sound Forever an overview of the compilation "OHM- The Early Gurus of Electronic Music," which has treasure trove of extra writings and interviews not included in the original 3cd set.

And... holy crap! the image above is the album cover for the ensemble --Gruppo di Improvvozasione Nuova Consonanza's album "Nuova Consonanza," which included Ennio Morricone and Fredric Rzewski, among others.