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Libindal Band [Aug. 5th, 2007|03:57 pm]
Boring Deleuze and Guatarri

yammerskooner
Student:

4:30am and I'm about to go out and troll the streets looking for a fix of Yoga Nidra. Every time I fall asleep, I fall back into this bizarre dream wherein I'm trying to analyze the class readings with music-theory vocabulary. What would Clausewitz be if he were raised a half step? Who is the enharmonic equivalent of Lily Briscoe? If you were to create a chromatic scale of modernist thought, what would you include, and -- worse yet -- how would it sound?

This dream is not conducive to sleep nor paper completion, so in effect, it's just driving me crazy. I feel kind of like Mr. Ramsay, but I can't even get from A to G.

Teacher:

Sounds like you're actually in a very good place. Not necessarily an immediately comfortable one. But this is what it feels like to think, process, learn, grow. None, not even the brightest, not even Mr. Ramsey, can live in this state all the time. So enjoy the experience while it lasts. As we learned in yoga, treat everything as a pose; as each of these ideas occurs to you, relax into it and allow yourself to feel it as fully as you can.

Comparing all the ideas we've covered to music, btw, strikes me as a very good idea. Although eventually you want to make your ideas and feelings clearly understood by others, the first step is always to make them make clear sense to you. So, continue transposing our course concepts into your own language, till you find yourself running through them like scales. Think about Woolf's final scene of Lily Brisco's dancing brush. In the end, the more fluent we become in whatever creative medium is ours, the more we become nothing but bodies swaying to sound.

Though most people don't teach him this way, this is exactly what Freud says about the highest instances of thought and aesthetic perception. The human brain (or the cerebral cortex) is nothing but a sea anemone (think of the scene in which Nancy and Roger comb the tide pools) which happens to cling to the cave wall of the human skull as its own unique "interior milieu".

For Freud, the ego may well develop all sorts of sophisticated notions and technologies (all projections of the body) to make itself feel more secure in the world. But the human organism itself remains the same sensitive membrane which sticks feelers out into the exterior milieu in order to test its surroundings. In our highest moments of consciousness, it's not that we stop being these simple creatures immersed in a liquid world, but rather we experience this same "oceanic feeling" at a higher, sublimated level. But instead of basking in salt seas, we wave and drift now, consciously, reflectively, in ebbs and flows of colors, sounds, signs.

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Psychosis as "Spacing Out" [Jul. 17th, 2007|10:15 pm]
Boring Deleuze and Guatarri

yammerskooner
In case you hadn't been following me elsewhere, Renaisance perspectival painting creates an illusion of regular volumetric space by employing a vanishing point, a purely imaginary, infinitely distant point at which all parallel lines converge. However, this scandalous impossibility which allows for the effect of naturalistic space, is generally covered over either by architecture or free standing figure. So, even though we know it's there, we are never forced to look at it directly. Here's an example of what I'm talking about, by Raphael. Pardon the lines I've drawn in to make things painfully obvious.



I can't come up with a better example of how scandal is brought to the front and center of Mannerist painting than this image by Caravaggio. Notice how the focus of the action, the wound in Christ's side which is being forcefully penetrated by doubting Thomas, finds an almost exact correlate in the doubter's eye, which is situated at the very center of the canvas itself. Also notice how the chiaroscuro shading for all intents and purposes causes the eye to look as if it had been poked out (by a probing finger?).



Or, have a look at the correlation between these two gaping apperatures in Bernini's sculpture of Saint Teresa. Everything mirrors everything else, and everything looks like some sort of invagination. If you look long enough and with an unprejudiced mind, soon enough the entire sculpture appears to be seem like nothing more than one expansive and convoluted field of vulvae. To perceive the human form as this and this alone, an unbounded and centerless field of pores, is, in psychiatric terms, is what is known as "schizophrenia". What I'm suggesting is that Mannerism, in diametrical opposition to Cartesian rationalism, deliberately flirts with Unreason, madness.

Freud says that that hysterics or obsessives are people capable of making a global comparison between a sock and a vagina, a scar and castration, etc. Doubtless, it is at one and the same time that they apprehend the object globally and perceive it as lost. yet it would be never occur to a neurotic to grasp the skin erotically as a multiplicity of pores, little spots, little scars or black holes, or to grasp the sock erotically as a multiplicity of stitches. The psychotic can: "we would expect the multiplicity of these littel cavities to prevent him from using them as substitutes for the female genital" Comparing a sock to a vagina is OK, it's done all the time, but you'd have to been insane to compare a pure aggregate of stitches to a field of vaginas.

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guatarri - A Thousand Plateaus


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"Strangest Living Oddities" [Jul. 17th, 2007|10:01 pm]
Boring Deleuze and Guatarri

yammerskooner
To my class:

Please feel free ask questions, especially tough ones, to motivate me to write this way. It's how I learn. And learning, along with teaching (though I hardly distinguishing between the two) is pretty much the only thing about which I give a damn.



David Bowie

"Diamond Dogs"
"Rebel Rebel"
"Rock 'n' Roll With Me"
"We Are The Dead"


Recall that Mannerist painters strove to confront the viewer with scandal and violence, with the wildly exceptional. What Diderot and his crew believe, however, is that this kind of scandalization is generally used to mystify and control people, especially the non-philosophical multitidues. Note that Mannerist painting is basically a product (with is to avoid saying tool) of Counter-Reformation culture.

In an age in which the new Religion (Lutheranism and his spiritual offspring), is attempting, gradually, remove the inexplicable and the mysterious from religious practice; Mannerismism seeks to confront its audience with the prodigious, the impossible. The New Science (Descartes and his followers) will further this same project. And we can look to a variety of Baroque thinkers and artist as struggling with these same issues.

Diderot and Enlightenment philosophers, however, work in a somewhat different manner - one which, to my mind anyway, attempts to synthesize the Mannerist interest in the exceptional with the demystification of the New Science. Here, the very exceptions which would have appeared scandalous in the past are again brought front and center in Diderot, though now they are shown not to be exceptions so much as actually the norm. This is because Enlightenment culture, especially as we saw in it Diderot today, believes very powerfully in the "continuum."

Nature, for these Enlightenment thinkers, is a "plenitude" in which anything that can exists must exist. Whereas for Descartes such metaphysical realities as Time and Space were understood to be regular and unbroken continuums, in Diderot (who gets so many of his ideas from proto-biologists) it's the Natural Order (including the order of insects, the order of fishes, the order of mammals, etc.) which is in fact an unbroken continuum of forms. There really is no clear distinction between species but each gradually shades into the next.

In the same way, in the inanimate physical world, there is no clear distinction between sweet and bitter, light and dark, hot and cold. None of the old 'eminent causes' or medieval 'qualities' are thought to hold up anymore. Everything shades into everythig else. It is the function of careful observation and appropriate naming to allow us to identify all these subtle differences, remember them, and make comparisons. Such data are then organized in taxinomical collections. It can be done, as seen below, with butterflies.



It can be done with the human anatomy, using both genuine and artifical specimens (*know in advance that some of the images linked below are fascinating but unpleasant, to say the least*).


And it can also be done with books. Leibniz, who was one of the strongest advocates for the notion of the continuum, was a professional court librarian. The book I'm reading now treats this subject very inadequately, saying it was simply a job this social-climbing philosopher found beneath his dignity. But I'm inclined to complexify our view of the situation, seeing books as cultural equivalents of natural species. Leibniz was hired by the Duke of Hanover to be the literary equivalent of the court butterfly collector, encharged with finding one of everything and laying everything out in perfect order. You can see how Leibniz might bristle at the calling, and yet why in many ways it would have suited him perfectly. In fact, what Leibniz really wanted to be was a "cabinet minister". But once you realize that such collections were called "cabinets of curiosities", you can see how it was that Leibniz balked at being a collector and organizer, per se. It's just that he wanted to collect and organize an entire country and not just a bunch of books.



It's because he believes in such continuums, or the continuum of Nature in general, that Diderot is so interested in the two supposed scandals we mentioned in class today:

1) The Cyclops, because it marks a transitional point between different species, filling in the gaps between which we otherwise might image were empty. Now, the cyclops only lives for a few minutes. But, as Diderot points out, even if it only lived for a second, still it lived, and shows us that Nature creates in every possible direction to produce every possible formation, not just the one's we consider "natural."

2) The Clitoris (along with the hermaphrodite), because it marks the site at which the two sexes can be seen not to stand in total opposition to one another but rather how they in fact meet at a middle point. The sexes are not two discreet entities but rather extremes, the majority of humanity not existing at either end so rather somewhere in the middle. The examination of the clitoris reveals all the crucial "homologies" which show how any given individual, if only a few conditions had been different, might have been born tending toward the other sex. Here is a complete list of "homologues of the human reproductive system" (click!). The hermaphrodite, then, is not then the exception to the laws of nature but rather than confirmation of those laws. It does deny or hide them but reveals them all the more plainly. (p.s. So why doesn't Diderot like Farinelli?)

If you want to read more on the history of medical interest in such anomalies, here is an excellent and award-winning book from University of Chicago art historian Barbara Maria Stafford. If you follow here research, you see how she has dedicated her life to rediscovering and rehabilitating a variety of 18th-century modes of knowing and learning which were obliterated by the rise of the modern research university in 19th-century Germany.



(click below for a sample essay from another of her books, Artful Science:
Enlightenment Entertainment and the Eclipse of Visual Education
)



(part one)
(part two)


It is only our refusal to examine these supposed exceptions, miracles or "messages from God" (the literal meaning of the word "monster" is "omen" or "warning"); along with our inability to understand them correctly; which causes us to seem them as scandalous. In a world in which people were purged of superstition, and given in language in which they could freely exchange unbiased information with one another; nobody would be outraged but such exhibitions anymore, or controlled by their spectacular display. And this is precisely Diderot's Enlightenment project: mass education and mass literacy (in this he differs from Rousseau) in the service of mass liberation from tyranny. It's for this very reason the Diderot and the real-life D'Alembert dedicated years and years of their lives to produces the world's first Encyclopedia.

Finally, click below and check out an amazing resource very much in the spirit of the Enlightenment's belief in the free access to information, an on-line edition of Diderot's Encyclopedia. It's project of informing and emancipating the masses, of showing them the truth of nature and technology, should remind you in many significant ways of Dziga Vertov's "Man with A Movie Camera." Of course Vertov was no David Bowie. But: 1) who could be? and 2) that was never his goal anyway.

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Mathematical Sublime [Jul. 8th, 2007|02:15 pm]
Boring Deleuze and Guatarri

yammerskooner
Recall that term term I used in class for those negative phenomena which stand in opposition to the Beautiful, is the "Sublime". Follow the image link below to see a superb illustration of what the german philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804) taught us to call the "Mathematical Sublime" - quantities so immense they ovewhelm the powers of the finite human imagination. In contrast to this, those phenomena whose power, rather than size, dwarfs the capacities of the imagination (of the sort seen in the photography of Emmet Gowin), Kant calls the "Dynamical Sublime." One of the most significant changes in the shift from modern to postmodern aesthetics will be the increasing supplementation or wholesale replacement of the Beauty by the Sublime, in either of its two modalities.

Chris Jordan
Intolerable Beauty: Potraits
of Mass Consumption



Chris Jordan
"Scrap Metal, Seattle" (2003)
44" x 57"
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Dynamical Sublime [Jul. 8th, 2007|01:40 pm]
Boring Deleuze and Guatarri

yammerskooner
Another reason I wanted you to read the Krauss article right up front was so that I could make sure to get Utah art into the class as soon as possible. As you read the post below follow the "marked site" and "axiomatic structure" links to the creations of Robert Smithson and his wife Nancy Holt, whose works are perhaps the most important pieces of art which will ever be produced in this state. Smithson's "Spiral Jetty," for instance, is largely considered to be the most imporant piece of 'sculpture' produced in the last fifty years. Believe me, if I could pull it off, we'd be taking a field trip to see it next weekend. Damn thing is, now that the state has officially taken ownership of the piece, all the junk which was originally part of the site has been removed to produce a more "museum-like" context in which to view it. In other words, they fucked it all up.

We didn't get to discuss this in class, but recall what Krauss, toward the end of "Expanded Field," said about the new kinds of postmodern artifact which emerge in relation of difference with respect to "sculpture": that they tend to lend themselves to photography. Just below is a photograph by Emmit Gowin, whose work I got to see last time I was in Washington DC. His photographs of clearcuts, strip mining, atom-bomb craters, and industrial waste (the mutilated Earth) offer a superb example of "marked-site" works.



Emmet Gowin
"Off road traffic pattern along the north
shore of the Great Salt Lake, Utah" (1988)
gelatin silver print
From Changing the Earth, Yale Press, 2002



Emmet Gowin
"Copper Ore Tailing, Globe, Arizona" (1988)
split-toned gelatin silver print
George Eastman Museum of Photography

Now, are these creations (or destructions) deliberate? beautiful? That's beside the point for Krauss. It's more a matter of how interesting they are. Industrial waste m Their capture on film, however, shows us the direction that human creativity and sensibility are headed: the generation of objects as well as feelings which cannot be accomodated by the museum. Again, they show us not only that art is changing in radical ways, which we nevertheless can map with the semiotic square, but also that aesthetic sensibility is changing. The high moral feeling which, especially for Fried, used to be the quintessential art experience, in now revealed, in Krauss's world, to be nothing more than one affective response within a system containing a limited set of possible feelings.

The lofty sense of spiritual contemplation expressed in Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Hymn To Intellectual Beauty" (click) is, for Krauss, not one inch superior to the feeling of demoralizing disgust evinced by looking at photos of slag heaps and oil spills. In the same way that Krauss's paradigm argues that artistic production takes place within a limited repertoire of forms, so human (aesthetic) emotion takes place within a limited and discrete set of possibilities, all of which are locked squarely into, and predetermined by an abstract system. For Krauss, not only are our ideas not free, but neither are our most intimate emotions and immediate gut reactions. All human experience is the product of our being situated within an ideological structure, or what Krauss's mentor Fredric Jameson call the "prison-house of language." Inside these confines, individual thoughts and emotions, are the products of a total systems which is completely beyond our control. How far we have come from Greenberg, Fried and Sontag!

Here's a link to more on Gowin's work: (click) and (click)

And here's what I consider a good example of an "axiomatic structure", a fabricated situation which (deliberately) distorts or modifies our sense of physical orientation and stability within the world, heightening our awareness of its fundamental contingency.



But wait, you'll say, that thing isn't even modern! It was build in the Renaissance! And, finally, it IS architecture! My question to you: How would Krauss respond to this outcry?



Emmet Gowin
"Copper Ore Tailing, Globe, Arizona" (1988)
split-toned gelatin silver print
George Eastman Museum of Photography

Now, are these creations (or destructions) deliberate? beautiful? That's beside the point for Krauss. It's more a matter of how interesting they are. Industrial waste m Their capture on film, however, shows us the direction that human creativity and sensibility are headed: the generation of objects as well as feelings which cannot be accomodated by the museum. Again, they show us not only that art is changing in radical ways, which we nevertheless can map with the semiotic square, but also that aesthetic sensibility is changing. The high moral feeling which, especially for Fried, used to be the quintessential art experience, in now revealed, in Krauss's world, to be nothing more than one affective response within a system containing a limited set of possible feelings.

The lofty sense of spiritual contemplation expressed in Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Hymn To Intellectual Beauty" (click) is, for Krauss, not one inch superior to the feeling of demoralizing disgust evinced by looking at photos of slag heaps and oil spills. In the same way that Krauss's paradigm argues that artistic production takes place within a limited repertoire of forms, so human (aesthetic) emotion takes place within a limited and discrete set of possibilities, all of which are locked squarely into, and predetermined by an abstract system. For Krauss, not only are our ideas not free, but neither are our most intimate emotions and immediate gut reactions. All human experience is the product of our being situated within an ideological structure, or what Krauss's mentor Fredric Jameson call the "prison-house of language." Inside these confines, individual thoughts and emotions, are the products of a total systems which is completely beyond our control. How far we have come from Greenberg, Fried and Sontag!

Here's a link to more on Gowin's work: (click) and (click)

And here's what I consider a good example of an "axiomatic structure", a fabricated situation which (deliberately) distorts or modifies our sense of physical orientation and stability within the world, heightening our awareness of its fundamental contingency.



But wait, you'll say, that thing isn't even modern! It was build in the Renaissance! And, finally, it IS architecture! My question to you: How would Krauss respond to this outcry?
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Suspension as Mode of Reform [Jul. 5th, 2007|11:55 am]
Boring Deleuze and Guatarri

yammerskooner
# # #

Sorry not to have posted any music until now.
I'm usually much better about it.
Problem is, it takes a lot of time to do it right. But, so?
Anyhow, let me know if you listen to any of these.
I got my own self curious now.


New York School meets No-Wave:

Silence of The Idealist Grid
vs.
Din of The Death Machine




Morton Feldman
(1926 - 1987)

Rothko Chapel 3

Piano and Strings (pages 29 - 42)

For John Cage (0:00 - 9:59)


A perfect evocation

"Rothko Chapel" was composed for the dedication of the de Menil chapel, for which Mark Rothko created some of his final paintings. The space, in Houston TX, is a downtown quiet space, for contemplation, with only the dark colorfields of Rothko's work as a visual point of focus. The work here is a very beautiful and equally dark counterpoint to those canvases, evocative of both the sense of visual diffusion as well as the inner mystery they seem to conceal within their colorfields. Sometimes seeming like some mysterious shrouded procession, at other times like a distant call to prayer, and with a recurrant vocal figure of a solo voice, evoking a sense of both innocence and encantory devotion, the piece is one of Feldman's shortest but most powerful. And the version performed here is excellent, with very precise yet human performance characteristics...which is just what's required, as a rule, to make Feldman's music 'work'.

Ambient Beauty

Rothko Chapel, written to be played in the famous Houston space, is a wonderful piece, one that should win new converts to the Feldman cause. It isn't daunting in length, like many later Feldman pieces, yet it retains the sonic beauty and delicacy of instrumental color that makes Feldman unique. The piece is also remarkably tonal, unlike many other Feldman works. The gorgeous hushed soprano solo sounds like a distant call to prayer. Feldman talks in the liner notes of the influence of Hebrew cantilation and you can hear it, although it is much more distant than most cantilation. This work is an example of the best kind of ambient music. It is endlessly fascinating, and yet seems to have a physical presence that does not depend on your concentration. You can listen intently or just let the sound wash over you.



Glenn Branca
(b. 1948)


Symphony No. 3
(Gloria)
Second Movement


Symphony No. 6
(Devil Choirs at The Gates of Heaven)
First Movement


Absolute sh*t

I've heard so many people tout Glenn Branca as the single most important artist in the past 2 decades. That's a pretty loft claim to live up to. Laughably, he falls ENTIRELY short. This is amassed, dissonant ("out-of-tune" would be the more appropriate phrase here), amusical GARBAGE. What Branca has composed here is utter crap, and the crappiness of the music itself is only augmented by the musicians involved with performing it, in particular, Stephan Wiscerth's awful drumming. I understand that Thurston Moore, Lee Renaldo, Michael Gira, and (less importantly) Page Hamilton have all played with him, but do not let that fool you -- Branca's music is completely unredeeming, humorless, and pretentious to the point of ridiculousness. Don't be fooled!

Puh-lease!

To call Branca a composer is like calling someone's nose-picking Art. He is without a doubt the most talentless, the most uninteresting, the most humorless tertiary affiliate of the music scene, a man comfortable neither in the world of progressive rock (he has no rhythm, no chops, no ear) nor that of serious, i.e., classical music (he has no understanding of composition--I doubt he even knows how the circle of five works). It really doesn't matter how many guitarists he's got for this particular recording. They all sound terrible because the music Braca "wrote" is terrible. Just one monotonous strum on all six strings after another, with no rhyme or reason. You can do this with your kid brother and his twelve-year-old buddies anytime of the day in the luxury of your own basement. And you'll have more fun listening to the result taped on your beat-up radio afterward.</center>
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Les Dupes: Enduring The Myth of Picasso [Jul. 4th, 2007|12:18 am]
Boring Deleuze and Guatarri

yammerskooner
Something I wrote today to my class:

Looks like a few of you generated some good posts in my absence. I'll need to catch up on them. Guess that's how I'll spend my 4th.

For now, just let me say that I really enjoyed class today. I'm sure it wasn't all that difficult to see that I didn't have all that much prepared in advance. But that's not meant to reflect a lack of interest or effort on my part. Rather, I frequently show up with only the vaguest of plans specifically so that we end up having a conversation instead of a lecture, so that you can see me, as well as yourselves, in the act of creating ideas rather than simply absorbing them. Which is pretty much my attempt to offer you genuine spontaneity as opposed to the manufactured spontaneity which we witness in the film today.

Again, let me mention that I do not believe watching The Mystery of Picasso is a waste of time, or that to enjoy it is necessary to fall victim to the director's (or for that matter Picasso's) machinations. What I want you to begin to appreciate are the various modes according to which an object can be considered, and the way we can use our class concepts and terminology to begin to elaborate statements about these competing perceptions. We'll continue to do this type of experimentation throughout the semester on an array of objects - paintings, films and written texts.




Claude Lorraine
France, 1600-1682
Idyll: Landscape with a Draughtsman Sketching Ruins, ca. 1630
Oil on canvas





"Claude Glasses"





"Claude Mirror"





(click the image above to see book details,
as well as one of my favorite examples of first-order camp,
customers reviews from well-intentioned idiots. enjoy!
also, click below to enjoy the testimonies of some genuine dupes.)





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Lacan and Deleuze [Jul. 1st, 2007|03:18 pm]
Boring Deleuze and Guatarri

eriklo
I read a great article by Daniel W Smith  called The Inverse Side of the Structure Žižek on Deleuze on Lacan in which he critiques Lacan's book on Deleuze Organs without a Body or some shit like that.  It's a great read if you want to get a grasp on some of the terms that Deleuze throws around (but be warned that Smith is doing a Lacanian reading).  I have it and if you want me to send it to you (and Zizek's reply to Smith) just leave a comment.

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Headrest [Jun. 27th, 2007|10:18 pm]
Boring Deleuze and Guatarri

eriklo


A private museum all of ones own! A whole body (of work) without organs!
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Fascism starts at home [Jun. 27th, 2007|09:10 pm]
Boring Deleuze and Guatarri

eriklo
Lines of flight can mean many things; it can be read as a post-structuralist amorphous void deixically calling into question relationships; it can be simultaneously a vanishing point or it can be, as I see Deleuze situated, an exile.



But if it is seen as an exile, what does that do for understanding Deleuze?  I feel that it tackles a central question about Capitalism and hints to some friction of the unity of composition.
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