Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Rose Knapp, Concrète Dasein, et al


Reify #16, image by Irene Koronas


Concrète Dasein
 
What if Dasein encompassed the theoretical 
And the concrete? What if Dasein is 
A type of alien music? What if Dasein was spiritual?
 
 
 
Syllabic Idyllic 
 
Harsh IED implosions rocket across
The asemic syllabic skyline
 
Leaving priestly Latin and lingua francas
Mutated and transformed 
 
 
 
Revenge of Venus
 
Walls of static white noise crash and cascade
Colliding collaging with broken
Beatific falsetto melodies, perfection in imperfection
 
 
 
Pindaric Arc of Stars
 
Radiant resplendent red brush over Andromeda’s 
Side eyed shadows, stars burst in cacophonous 
Eruption, volcanic stardust evolving to life
 

Rose Knapp

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Jim Meirose, Step-by-Step Self-regenerating Great Big Shoe Salesmens


 s’spolsionarium, image by Irene Koronas


Step-by-Step Self-regenerating Great Big Shoe Salesmens   

 Jim Meirose


Come press my head loud key to hum up these talebones; little Chester is the discarded body part s’splosionaria s’spolsionarium s’splosionaria s’spolsionarium the truckers are the predators it was discarded because of s’splosionaria s’spolsionarium s’splosionaria the rudimentary substitute salesman filling in for him is the step-by step regenerating shoe salesman s’splosionaria bauble-butt s’spolsionarium in each stage of regeneration what little Chester loses causes him more and more impairment s’splosionaria so wise him s’spolsionarium wise him up s’spolsionarium doll after all you are mom there how ‘bout we go at ten how’s that sound s’splosionaria s’spolsionarium s’splosionaria s’spolsionarium I’m going to the bathroom s’splosionaria and I s’splosionaria will most likely s’spolsionarium bathroom the to going I’m s’splosionaria be a while s’spolsionarium sound that how’s ten at go we ‘bout how s’spolsionarium the others see him one-arming selling s’splosionaria s’spolsionarium superloud bassoonery s’splosionaria s’spolsionarium asd a matter of fact that’s probably the right answer s’splosionaria bassoonery off’n all bassoon-men’s bassoononium-iminalle temptette s’splosionaria why on s’spolsionarium earth s’splosionaria the bassoon dear s’spolsionarium looks like this’s gonna work out s’splosionaria s’splosionaria bassoon is not popular s’spolsionarium bassoon is not popular but this’s gonna work out anyhoot big Slim s’splosionaria s’spolsionarium out slim Lucy s’splosion s’spolsion s’splosion s’spolsionarium ah slim Lucy s’splosionaria s’spolsionarium s’splosion s’spolsion-rarium looks like this’s gonna work out slim Von-Lucy s’splosion s’splosionaria s’spolsion little Chester is the discarded body part s’splosionaria racket s’spolsion keteer s’splosion eterring s’spolsionarium racketeering his truckers are his predators he was discarded ‘cause of s’splo s’spolsionarium s’splo s’spolsionarium the “rudimentary” racketeering-shoe-salesman filling in for him s’splosionaria s’spol s’splo s’spolsionarium updeep! Updeep! This Baronessa Von-Salesman of the known world ‘s filling in for him ‘ss the step-by step s’splosiaria s’spolsionarium s’splosiaria s’spolsionari-con monkey-con monkey-um’s oh yes my sweet prayer by all that’s this step-by-step self-regenerating shoe salesman s’splos s’spolsion s’splosiona s’spolsionarium yah by-buh ‘ss self-regenerating shoe salesman s-s-s-s’splosionaria yah ‘sss self-regenerating shoe salesman s’spolsionarium ah yes this “rudimentary” substitute salesman filling in for him is the step-by step self-regenerating shoe salesman themselves s’splosionaria tic tic s’spolsionarium eck eck s’spolsionarium hey-hum this process is dangerously low on memory this up from backhind my talebone—

 

Dukie! Hey, Dukie! Come down here right now!

What the hell, wait a minute—where you at?

In the cellar! Get down here!

For Christ’s sake, why?

That tank you brought down here! Come see what’s in it!

Wait a minute!

Okay—Jesus! Hurry up! My God—

 

—s’splosion s’spolsion s’splosion s’s ah oh ih up backhind my talebone up backhind my talebone time to a-s’splosionaria evacuate b-s’spolsionarium evacuate c-s’splosionaria time-to d-s’spolsionarium and this on top of the rapid over-decomposition of the dumping the filldirt repeated phrase a b c d perhaps tease this in as the base is teased out oh you kid s’splosionaria me s’spolsionarium them s’splosionaria us s’spolsionarium as the base is teased out ess’splosionaria o oss’spolsionarium h uss’splosionaria yo ass’spolsionarium is teased out come-com’ boffa la buffa s’splosionaria u la s’spolsionarium kid lo s’splosionaria oh you kid lo be best s’spolsionarium many evil living things are being forcibly s’splosionaria hop-s’spolsionarium froggy s’splosionaria hop s’spolsionarium are being forcibly extincted down froggy-hop-ionaria big-full-sweep-bonbon baby s’spolsionarium s’splosionaria forcibly extincted-down in the s’splosionaria s’s’splosionaria this here damned process s’splosionaria yes the process this or that process s’spolsionarium that s’splosionaria s’spolsionariusse buh’ s’splosionariette each time s’spolsionario s’splosionarian s’spolsionarrrow-bam s’splo’sizzlin’ from its beginning but starting partial s’spolsionarium starting partial increasing each time s’spolsionarium s’splosionaria increasing each time by an amount leading s’spolsionarium s’splosionaria s’spolsionarium s’splosionaria an amount leading to s’spolsion-s’splosion big-boom s’spolsionarium’s gaseous aortic dizzi-diz-ssection soon the bombers s’spolsionarium s’spolsionairre bombers will be directly s’spl-diplo-s’po directly over head so diplo up the whole thing being stated from s’spolsionarium so hurry up s’spolsionarium hurry-up s’spolsionarium s’spolsionarium stated from the beginning big-s’spolsionarium big-s’splosionaria-pat pat pat t’ de’ end after the “dumping the filldirts” reduces these s’spolsionariums and s’splosionarias down quiet down quiet such that then “dumping the filldirts” reduces this s’splosionaria and the inevitably following s’spolsionariums which may manifest multiply to end after the “dumping the filldirts” reduces to zero every single and double-la’ multiple ex, God willing, to a simple single chambered s’splosionarette fated to end after the “dumping the filldirts” reduce to zero ah to end after the “dumping the filldirts” to end reduce to zero ah ah end to end after the after “dumping the filldirts” the “dumping the filldirts” at last silently slowly stopped ah ah exactly just under low zero as per extensive computation led all but one of us to believe.

 

Whew!

Step back, yes.

Cigarette?

 

Double life****

Hows your husband? Still out of town?


Thursday, June 2, 2022

Pedro R. Rivadeneira, Song of Anonymous (a nomadic novel), Section III, Tunnel at the end of the light

 


Turbubabulence II, image by Pedro R. Rivadeneira


Song of Anonymous


(a nomadic novel)

 

Section III

 

Tunnel at the end of the light

           Pedro R. Rivadeneira

         (a work in progress)

 

III

 

tunnel at the end of the light

 

 

“There is a little of everything, apparently, in nature,

and freaks are common.”

                                                             Samuel Beckett, Molloy.

 

 

It is late on a summer afternoon, early July, when i am, where i am, sitting in the Grote Markt Square in the Hague with Anders, an old friend and colleague from my student days at the Koninlijk Conservatorium: the sky, dark blue with scattered pink soon to become crimson, deep orange and isolated gray clouds sprinkling too; the sun late to set in the Northern European estival skies. It is here, in the square, full of the chatter of tens of dozens of people out for the evening, drinking, smoking and gossiping, the latter being a major form of entertainment and social control in these parts, not much else to do, the widespread boredom setting heavily like a wave on our heads and shoulders, on our backs, all tempered by massive amounts of beer, schnapps, hashish and loud techno music, while some take it upon themselves to police others, cutting them down to size, keeping each other in their place, making sure they don’t get too self-confident, the entire scene seemingly shaped by waves of gossip that come and go with the ebb and flow of the rising and falling intensity of voices, all of which suddenly strike me as shouts and calls on a boat in a stormy sea, spreading a nasty rumor or two around when needed, the nastiness knowing no limits, it’s as thick as pea soup, you could cut it with a knife as they say, i can see it out of the corner of my eye, like a shadow, a fog or staticky mist silently hovering, watching, listening, aimlessly adrift, floating above the unaware, unconscious crowd as they squirm in their seats with excitement, anticipating the opportunity to test their skills, to release their venom, connoisseurs of flattery, punishment, pain and humiliation always eager to dig their talons into someone’s tender, unsuspecting flesh. i can see it out of the corner of my eye, hanging low in the sky, just above the roof tops, like a headache, a migraine aura, pulsating, blurring my vision, my mind’s eye and ears, my ability to think and perceive clearly scrambled by the static, a black static, slowly shifting shape and place as it focuses on one part of the crowd more than another, resonating with their fears and cruelty, seemingly feeding on them and feeding back into the crowd such that a loop is generated between the crowd and it; the amorphous amoeba of black static. Here, awash in the incessant talk about music videos, clothes and newly acquired lovers, petty conquests both male and female, i sit quietly, nursing another Belgium beer, the high alcohol content of the previous two already setting on my brain with a gentle buzz, it is here, as i was saying, in the Grote Markt Square, on a late summer afternoon that i meet her,  Elise, as i listen to friends of a friend talking about someone’s writing: taking it upon themselves to interpret it for me and each other, explaining it, explaining it away to each other, completely tearing it apart, degrading and debasing it, taking it away from her who wrote it and in their odious boredom, tearing it down, destroying it, taking turns reading bits and pieces of the text in mocking tones of voice, reducing it to smithereens, convincing themselves and each other it’s not worth their while, and it is this view, the only one worth listening to of course, and all along the victim laughs her head off spitting out a slew of insults the likes of which i've never heard before in this guttural Netherlandish tongue and which shoot past me in a frenzy as she tries to snatch back the pages from her maliciously snickering friends. Sandal, boot and tennis shoe clad feet stomp on brick inlaid ground accompanied by table slapping laughter and chairs screeching in a chorus of multiphonic clusters, a moment of putrefaction suddenly waxing within as last rays simultaneously touch a far flung cloud disappearing over the roof tops, straying away toward horizons unseen, and in another corner of the square a group of young parents, framed by the languorous late afternoon light as if by a spotlight, as if posing for a portrait a la Rembrandt, they're all sitting around with their little pets, their children, their babies, their human possessions, chattering and laughing, treating their helpless little babies like things, possessions, objects of pride, showing them off to each other like trophies, their prize possessions, flinging them into a self-destructive world about which they won't be allowed to do anything. Watching, listening to them makes my stomach turn - the idiots basking in the illusion of a fulfillment that never really gets actualized     delusional     suddenly opening our blind eyes in the midst of the black      cosmic night that surrounds everything - i think to myself floating suspended, aimlessly, like a piece of flotsam gently rocked by mild waves, in an alcohol induced reverie -

                            Adrift in the sounds from the square, Anders and i continue drinking our beers, occasionally chuckling as we watch and listen to our friends Nadja, whom i once dated in my student days and who now teaches Comparative Literature at the University of Amsterdam, and Danica and her friends, drinking and smoking, snickering in spittle filled Haagse guttural accent smirking, when suddenly i catch a glimpse, a sideways glance, i mean peripherally, i catch a glimpse,  two chairs away to my right, of two, flip flop clad dirty feet with chipped black enameled toe nails, my gaze slowly moves up thin long legs covered in tight black slacks past unusually long, spindly fingered hands, also with chipped black enameled nails, at the end of long arms onto a black ruffled blouse with pronounced cleavage, and finally, the profile of a silently smiling face topped by an unruly mass of raven black hair, all of this seeming to me to be a thinner, taller, vaguely female and sexier version of the Cure’s Robert Smith. Nadja, catching me gazing at the stranger, grins through the haze and noise, leans forward across the table and says - I want you to meet my sister - she then leans in the opposite direction and, putting her hands around her mouth, whispers something to the stranger who first looks at the ground as she listens, then looks up in my direction with large sea green, gray-blue eyes smiling, i smile back and wave briefly with my free hand and say hello under my breath - this is my sister Elise - Nadja says smiling playfully, Elise leans forward and says - Hola     como estás? -  Oh! Spanish     what a pleasant surprise - i say smiling at her - I've heard a lot about you - she then says in English - all of it good     i hope - i wink at her and then take another sip from my glass - but of course     of course    all of it good - she answers back playfully with a big grin on her face - your Spanish pronunciation is very good    where did you learn to speak it - I ask Elise - I've travelled around a lot in Latin America as part of my studies - she says smiling at me - oh really? what are your studies? - i inquire - I have a doctorate in Latin American Studies - she answers - oh that's impressive! - i say shifting in my chair a little and then ask - do you teach anywhere? - yes - she answers - at the university in Utrecht - goodness! that's even more impressive !   that's where the old Institute for Sonology used to be! - i say genuinely intrigued - you should come to Utrecht for lunch some time - she says - we can practice our Spanish together - sure    of course - I answer - I'd love to visit and practice with you - Spanish - she says, her face aglow with a mischievous smile - of course     of course    Spanish     that's what I meant . . . I'm sure . . . - i mumble back beginning to giggle - anyway    the role of the arts    music's role in society is complex - i hear Anders say all of a sudden after a long pause, interrupting my flirtations with Elise - it can be subversive and it can be used to affirm the status quo    this latter kind of music     commodity music     has a conditioning function     it plays upon certain feelings     certain emotions and kinds of thinking     usually of an obsessive nature     I mean     so-called pop music serves this function     it serves power by means of its utterly conventional musical forms - he says smirking - and through the incessant repetition of formulaic rhythmic    melodic and harmonic patterns along with highly cliched voice centered lyrics      it reinforces certain psycho-emotional limit cycles in people's minds     keeping them stuck in habitual modes of thinking and feeling      keeping them in a state of dependency      keeping them addicted to an increasingly limited repertoire of fears and desires the latter of which never really get fulfilled      keeping the listener     in true consumerist fashion     endlessly coming back for more - he says with increasing forcefulness and then takes another sip from his glass after which he continues with his invective - and I mean voice centered here in the sense it is meant in contemporary poetics - he articulates with precision  in his basso profundo voice - this inadequate      mistaken notion that a poem       or in this case      a song lyric    is simply the outward manifestation of a spoken or singing self-presence     all this      evidently    stemming from the belief that speech is primary and prior to writing     originating in the individual as ego      a subjectivity that is characterized  as hard and fast     rigid      fixed  and unchanging and whose insights are therefore true     a consistent and controlling self      where the poem       the song lyric     expresses some kind of insight      some kind of wisdom about life    a kind of confession of a lived personal experience that is supposed to be unique    where the poet      the artist      or in this case     these so-called pop stars    are somehow special      endowed with wisdom     endowed with almost mystical abilities     and their success    their wealth    their luxurious life styles are seen by society as proof of this     as if the pop star were some kind of emissary who is in touch with the Devine so-called    such a Romantic     nineteenth century notion     such utter bullshit! - he exclaims, a wide grimace contorting his face - but just how unique are those insights     just how unique is all that so-called wisdom     when all those so-called pop songs and the so-called stars who sing them are mass produced fabrications concocted by the entertainment industry     songs whose messages     whose oh so important insights     most     to not say all those self-centered    narcissistic pop star twits regurgitate over and over again with each song that is touted as new?    it's all a simulacrum     theater      a spectacle designed to give the consumer what he or she wants to hear and thus temporarily pacifying her or him until the next wave of prefabricated bullshit wisdom arrives - Anders spits out vehemently, clearly irritated - and they are often referred to as geniuses      these pop stars     or what's worse     they refer to themselves as geniuses     in the past a genius was someone with uncommon talent and inventiveness       uncommon intelligence and abilities     uncommon passion and energy     an uncommon capacity for work      today however       a genius is one of these prefabricated stars who has risen to the top of the market       put together by the entertainment industry with its teams of writers      producers and marketers     simply put    today    a genius is someone who has the capacity to sell hundreds of thousands if not millions of cds    or sound files      as the case may be - he says, the displeasure showing on his face with another grimace - at the same time you have all those postmodernist theorists and writers from the seventies and eighties who called into question the so-called genius position but who are themselves individuals of above average intelligence who wrote difficult and complex texts and whose writings back in the nineties were religiously regurgitated by ourselves and our grad student colleagues in academe     and who disingenuously glossed over or outright tried to erase the fact that there are individuals with unique abilities   in an attempt to breakdown the high vs. low distinction    distinctions that make some people feel uncomfortable      as if negating those distinctions was going to make class differences automatically go away     the fact remains that we each have our own unique physical and mental characteristics      though my height was an advantage to me in high school when I was in the basketball team     i still wasn't much of a runner     other      shorter players      were a lot faster than me    i was never very good at track and field      and forget about long distance running    and though I seem to have a knack for music and languages and a certain kind of analytical thinking I was never very good at maths no matter how hard I worked at it     while there were others in my class for whom maths were an effortless matter     differences and distinctions are not necessarily bad things    on the contrary they can be good things      to my mind differences and diversity are not something to be suppressed - he says taking another swig from his glass - eventually     all of those postmodern theories fell under suspicion given that common sense tells us not all works of art are of equal value      to say that Karlheinz Stockhausen is one of the great composers of the twentieth century and that his works are revolutionary is not the same as saying that the music of some self-proclaimed genius pop star is great and revolutionary     just what is so revolutionary about commodity music?     on the contrary     it is the music of conformity to the capitalist     consumerist and class system - he emphasizes - and functions as a vehicle of advertisement and propaganda for that system     as such it is counter revolutionary     it is reactionary! - he says angrily looking around him catching Nadja and Danica making mocking faces at him to which he responds by giving them the finger and to which they respond by sticking their tongues out at him followed by giggles and more mocking faces to which Anders responds again with the finger - we fart in your general direction - Nadja says with a snooty expression on her face while affecting a French accent which makes Anders and I burst into laughter - well there you go! - Nadja exclaims - I haven't seen you two laugh in years      and you - she says turning to me - i've never seen you so miserable!      what is going on with you?       is that what reading all that boring philosophy and critical theory does to you? - well      it's kind of long to explain - i respond still shaking with laughter - well yes     I've heard a little bit of what you were telling Anders but you can't be so serious all the time    you need to get out more and enjoy yourself      live a little and all that     you know     eat     drink     fuck and be merry - she says now putting on an upper class British accent and batting her eye lashes - yeah    well      hedonism can get rather boring pretty quickly too you know - i respond meekly - not if you're doing it with the right person mon cher - she counters with a big grin on her face, winking and throwing me a kiss - yeah      you might be right about that - i admit feeling self-conscious of my gloomy mood and raising my nearly empty glass in her direction i say - prost! - this is echoed loudly by all in our circle who, raising their glasses, shout out the toast - well - i continue turning to Anders with a frown on my face - going back to what you were saying about voice centered song lyrics and poetry    it may not be an either/or kind of situation      it may be more complex than that     i think - i say with a drawl - i mean     the role of the subject in poetry     or song lyrics or whatever     i  mean     i think the relation between identity and agency is negotiable      interactive    fluid     although less so     if at all    in what you call the prefabricated music and pop stars the entertainment industry     as you say    concocts or constructs     with that i agree whole heartedly - i stammer, slightly slurring my words - but i mean     i think    we all bring our unique baggage to this    composers     writers     poets     some song writers . . . i mean we're  all people with a psychology     a history      a biography as are the readers or the listeners    as the case may be    i mean      whatever self there is      may be the product of the relation between listener or reader and the writer or composer      set off by the power of presence     or contact as Jakobson would have it     anyway - i stumble on - after a while     most poetry i read now-a-days begins to sound like a Hallmark greeting card to me . . . we're not only dealing with the death of the author but it seems to me the reader kicked the bucket quite some time ago too     just who is this reader really?      your so-called average person on the street?     one thing I found shocking      over the years     when I was teaching at the college    was that many     to not say most of my students didn't like reading at all and were not even remotely familiar with major writers like Shakespeare    Cervantes    Borges     Whitman    Joyce     Dickinson or Stein     writers of complex literature     let alone philosophy and critical theory . . . and you can forget about them being aware of any writers from other cultures like Li Po      Tagore or Chinua Achebe who are fairly well known around the world - well - Nadja suddenly interjects - at the same time      taking into consideration how alienated we all are and how alienating our society is     i have difficulty seeing how such a relationship is possible     just what is meant by the relation between writer and reader under such terribly atomizing conditions     in which the individual is apparently completely erased     subsumed into absolute anonymity?     it seems to me that the reader the theorists and critics are referring to isn't your so-called average person on the street but other writers      other poets      critics and theorists like themselves      especially in academe     you're talking about a very insular     a very specialized and privileged group of people     most of whom are white males - yeah      i agree with that     specially what you say about how alienating our society is      that is the cause of most     if not all     my woes    the crisis I'm in . . . I think . . . - i say tentatively - then again my ideas on the subject of literature have always been horribly confused     and my knowledge of literary theory scant    I've changed my mind several times over the years about these issues   a lot of that stuff was written in the late sixties and early seventies     long before i was born - i mumble awkwardly and then continue - on the one hand you have people like Barthes    Foucault and Derrida who     if i understand them correctly     when referring to the death of the author are basically talking about modes of reading      how to read a text without normalizing the author's intentions     adopting      it would seem      a more open ended approach to interpreting a text    one where an act of reading is in effect one possible construction of the text      not getting stuck in one hermeneutic methodology as it were - i mutter catching my breath - at the same time i wonder if there is a limit to how many different readings one can have? - Nadja interjects again, cigarette in upturned hand while rocking her crossed leg back and forth gently. The way she holds her cigarette reminds me somewhat of photos i've seen of Hannah Arendt which makes me wonder if Nadja is doing one of her parodic impersonations she used to do in our student days. The fleeting smirk i suddenly see slip across her otherwise serious face leads me to believe she is, which makes me smile facetiously as she continues speaking - are texts infinitely open ended?     are texts that flexible?     and is the intention of an author really that easy to dismiss?    isn't the way a text is structured and the writing strategies a writer chooses     an expression of the writer's intent?     an expression of her or his point of view?     of her aesthetics?     i mean     aesthetic decisions are made while writing     who's making those decisions?    and who is affected by them while reading the text?    and these questions apply to the texts of the theorists and critics who talk about the death of the author as well     are their texts that open ended?    are their intentions that ambiguous?    are they that open to multiple interpretations?     don't they actually have a message or messages they are trying to convey?     specific ideas that they are in fact trying to get across to the reader?      aren't they indeed     despite claims to the contrary    trying to communicate with the reader?    if nothing else    the idea that communication is impossible    or at best      that the information conveyed is full of noise and ambiguities? - Nadja asks with impatience -  when referring to the contemporary novel of his time    for Barthes      language     writing     seemed to have been a kind of neutral medium in which the subject dissolves as it were      the subject disappears in the act of writing    in the act of producing language    an act in which      supposedly     all identity is lost and the text is therefore far from being a simple and direct expression of the writer's interiority    but hasn't this always been the case?    I mean     were nineteenth century writers just simply and directly expressing their feelings     their points of view    their subjectivities    through their novels?     I think it is rather simplistic and reductive to see their works as a mere outward manifestation of their emotions     I think there is some of that to be sure     I don't think that this is an either/or kind of situation as you have already pointed out - she says looking at me - but this idea that a novel or poem     as the case may be    is a conduit     devoid of any kind of noise     for the novelist's emotions      for the writer's so-called voice     seems simplistic at best       when I read Jane Austin or George Elliott or Flaubert      I don't just hear      a single    distinct     central voice     I hear voices     many      given that the self back then      as it is regarded by many today     was not a fixed thing but an ongoing process in which the I       the me       changes      often from moment to moment      I think that writers back then were very much aware of the unstable nature of the self - Nadja says taking a sip of schnapps from a shot glass - in one of her poems Emily Dickinson says:

 

And something is odd - within -

That person that I was -

And this one - do not feel the same -

Could it be madness - this?

 

it seems to me    Emily was very much aware that what we think of as the self is not a fixed      immutable thing    but something marked by change not a thing at all - she says emphatically - the perception that I am a fixed thing     a fixed entity in time is an effect of memory      memory and how we picture ourselves in our minds      this representation of ourselves we create in our mind's eye     as it were     produces the illusion that the me is a stable structure in time     but then again - Nadja says putting on her mock high class British accent again - is memory something apart from the self?     couldn't the self be a process that is aware of its being an ongoing process and that self-reflection where the process      as it were     looks back on itself      be what we are actually saying when we talk about a self?      which would take us right back to the Cartesian cogito     wouldn't it?  what I'm really trying to say is     that in a sense     the self is fixed in as much as it is an aspect of the process of change which itself seems to be permanent     a kind of permanent impermanence if you will - goodness Nadja!    all of this is making me dizzy!     i feel like we're going around in circles here - i exclaim beginning to giggle again - I chase my tail    therefore I am darling - Nadja says grinning at me - you Cartesian dog! - Danica exclaims laughing which makes the rest of us convulse with laughter again - that's Cartesian bitch to you! - Nadja snaps back mockingly at Danica, the laughter irrupts again, and then, turning to me Nadja says - they're just swirls darling     a bit of turbulence    that's all     nothing to get upset about - she winks at me and then continues in her normal voice - and yet     despite all the talk about the death of the author     Barthes authorized everything he wrote by putting his signature on it     his name     his mark and all his books are copyrighted just like Foucault and Derrida did and even Cage despite his claims of removing the ego from the creative process     if he was so egoless and free      why did he put his mark on his works?     why copyright them at all?     there's an element of hypocrisy there   don't you think?    and of course    these were all privileged white men     why not do what U.G. Krishnamurti and Abby Hoffman did with their publications which were not copyrighted       allowing their readers to use their works freely?    but as you said      I don't think it's an either/or situation either      there is an ambiguity in all this     which perhaps can be best described as a kind of irregular or chaotic oscillation between both      between a more centered voice and a dispersal      a refraction     through language     of that voice into many voices      as Rimbaud once said Je est un autre  - Nadja states with a serious expression on her face - not to mention that when we read we not only hear the writer's voice     or voices     and the voices of the characters in a novel      but we also hear our own voices - yeah    I see what you mean     I think I agree with that    I've thought of all that before too - i stutter clumsily, saliva dribbling down my chin while Anders watches me with a smirk on his face, seemingly amused - but of course you have! - Nadja exclaims playfully - but I thought about it first and am therefore the sole and rightful owner of those thoughts! - she says pointing a finger at me admonishingly which makes Anders and i begin laughing again - on the other hand - Nadja continues - you have someone like Jameson who seems to have interpreted the death of the author      or rather     the subject     in quite literal terms    where this death is seen as symptomatic of the social changes brought on by neo liberalism and globalization and where the individual as an autonomous entity has been pretty much erased      terminated - i tend to agree with this latter assessment - i say with some anxiety - mainly what you said about the effects of neo-liberalism on society and how the individual has been erased      I believe I've experienced this collapse into anonymity in my own flesh    that was my whole point to begin with    that's why i've been in such a gloomy state - i mutter awkwardly again - at the same time I'm not entirely willing to dismiss Barthes and the others' take on the death of the author . . . but all along    throughout the years    what really seems to have died  to me is the reader - i find myself repeating - not the specialized reader in academe    which you've already mentioned      but the reader as the so-called common man        your so-called average person in the streets as you said - i mutter, again catching my breath and slurring my words - did you mean Roman Jakobson     the Russian linguist?     the formalist theorist? - Anders asks with marked interest - yeah      if memory serves     it's been ages since i read that stuff     i'm feeling a tad blurry right about now - Anders chuckles and says - ja  you could never handle your drink very well could you? - naw    never been much of a drinker really    though i enjoy getting a bit tipsy once in a while - i mutter back giggling softly - well     you should smoke some hash     it'll help you with that problem - he says chuckling again - oh yeah!      sure     that's just what i need! - i say laughing - if i smoke any of that shit     i'll collapse on the ground and fall asleep in a pool of my own vomit     sounds wonderful! - well   maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing! - Anders counters chuckling - it would for me! - i chortle back and we both begin shaking with laughter, after a while Anders says - anyway     i've always found it very curious how so many of my so-called avant-garde friends      my experimental writer friends      my poet friends     many of whom regard themselves as Marxists     as revolutionaries    are so prone to listening to commodity music       to so-called pop music and have the tendency of shunning experimental music      they're aware of its existence     they're aware of avant-garde music and know some of the names but they really don't listen to it or bother to study it      its history     in any depth - yeah, I know - i respond blearily - I've encountered that sort of thing too     it may be that many don't really know how to listen to music     it's ok to write difficult     complex poetry of an experimental nature that is challenging to read and requires considerable effort and reflection and knowledge of poetics and critical theory but     it's not ok to write difficult       complex and challenging experimental music that requires close listening and reflection     in typical bourgeois fashion        they make music into a kind of stimulant       their morning cup of coffee     they want music to be a kind of background noise or sound track to their lives whose function it is to be the consoler     the way your typical male chauvinist thinks a woman's place is barefoot in the kitchen cooking    surrounded by children       barely seen but not heard     a mere servant      in the case of music     heard but not really listened to      they put music in a position of servitude     a slave to the image      like you have in film where the music is used to support the visual narrative and the actions or whose function is often no more than ornamental      I've experienced this sort of thing also in collaborations I've had with a couple of visual artists      music is always treated as a kind of supplement to the image - i say with increasing intensity - music is always in a servile position to the image      it's never the other way round      they privilege the image over music     they privilege sight over sound      they privilege seeing over listening     where looking    the gaze    watching     and therefore surveillance     all of this    takes precedence over the other senses   keeping a distance from the world     from reality      and this distancing    this not getting involved     intimately     is extended through the various technologies    cameras      video      monitors     television      what seems to me a completely paranoid position - i utter with increasing agitation - whereas listening involves a kind of tactility    listening is a kind of touching     it involves physically feeling sound      musicking is first and foremost an embodied      a carnal activity     the ear drum is an extension of our skin      if we are really listening      that is     if we are really paying attention with full body and mind . . . listening    touching     smelling and tasting     are incarnate      bodily experiences and therefore constitute a more intimate connection with the world      the emphasis on the visual    and the privileging of sight over the other senses in our culture    is akin to the privileging of the abstract     of the conceptual over concrete materiality the concrete materiality of the body    and the world      reality - i mutter feeling wobbly, slurring my words again. i see Nadja, Elise and Danica staring at me wide eyed with big smiles on their faces and then looking at each other, they break out into facetious giggles. Shaking my head i say - can't you three take anything seriously? - of course not darling      no one can be as serious and profound as you two - Nadja counters putting on her mock British accent again - you are the queens of seriousness and deep thinking -  she says - ja      the dark queens of the deep - shouts Danica, which makes both Anders and I shake with laughter again - fuck you - i say with a dismissive gesture - you should be so lucky - retorts Elise glaring at me and batting her eye lashes. After taking another sip of beer, i continue - for several years I've thought of making a work in which this hierarchy     this authoritarian structure in which the visual is privileged over sound over listening     is overturned      inverted     in which the visual elements are an outgrowth     are in fact generated by the sounds themselves       where the data from the parameters of sound    you know     frequency     amplitude     duration     texture    timbre and all that      control the parameters of the video images   such as light     color     tint      the vertical and the horizontal      the graininess of the images      the pixel information      generating them      the juxtaposing and layering of images and so on      molding and shaping them according to the music's structures      and the visual data can then be fed back into the sound parameters creating a chaotic feedback loop producing a work in which sound and the visual material are coextensive and affect each other in unpredictable ways - so what happened with that      it sounds interesting -  Anders asks - well - i respond catching my breath - that was years ago     i accumulated hours and hours of video      all kinds of stuff from the natural environment as well as urban and industrial areas       I also gathered a lot of sound recordings from those places     I began writing an algorithm for computer generated sound synthesis and computer processing of sounds as well as processing of video images where the video was controlled by the data from the parameters of sound as i already described      but one day I just stopped       one day I just had to stop      one day I just couldn't go on anymore       something happened       something caved in      I felt a collapse - i say gasping for air - i just couldn't go on      the more I worked on it      the more video footage I  gathered      the more sounds I produced and recorded      the more isolated I felt    the more alienated I became from people     including family and friends      the more I felt I couldn't relate to them anymore      in fact they all began to get on my nerves in a big way     the acts of filming and the deep     close listening required in recording sounds changed me       it changed my perception somehow      it changed how I experience the world      as if I had crossed through a membrane between worlds . . . anyway     I've found that this hierarchical structure     the subservience of music to the image    is taken for granted by visual artists      I've never heard any of them question that authoritarian order   that hierarchy     which is telling - i say again feeling agitated - why do you think that is? - Anders asks - it's a glaring contradiction      a double thingy      you know - i say mumbling sluggishly - ooo la laaa! - i hear Nadja exclaim - we want to know about your double thingy! - ja - Elise chimes in leaning over and looking at me with a big smile on her face - tell us about your double thingy - i hear Danica and her friends laughing in the background and then stammer - well   what i meant to sssay . . . wasss . . . a double . . . sssstandard - Nadja rolls her eyes and waving her hand dismissively exclaims with emphasis - boooriiinnng      everyone has one of those! - more than one - adds Elise - ja the entire world is filled with those - i hear Danica say laughing - oh shut up - i snap back feigning annoyance smiling at them and then turning to Anders i continue - i don't know     maybe something like a schizoid      dissociative maneuver    many of my friends and acquaintances      writers    poets      people in the visual arts       comparative literature    theorists      many of whom claim to be Marxists       progressives and all that      turn out to be counter revolutionary reactionary shits when it comes to their musical aesthetics and they seem to be completely unaware of their contradictions - i spit out with a demeaning tone of voice - go figure     there seems to be a split there      some kind of division    a gap    a . . . a . . . gaping crack or wound or something . . . over the years      it's become apparent to me that     in many cases     people's musical aesthetics is revelatory     I mean     it reveals their true politics      where they really stand ideologically and more often than not     it has nothing to do with who they claim to be politically  when they find themselves in social situations    say among friends and colleagues - i mutter again sluggishly. The waitress has returned to our bunch of tables and stands next to Nadja talking with her. i raise my almost empty glass which she sees and acknowledges with a nod and a smile and after taking refill requests from nearly everybody in our group, she quickly pivots around and briskly walks away toward the bar - it seems to me - i start again leaning over in Anders' direction - that all of what music appeared to promise      as asserted several decades ago by Attali in that book of his we all read so avidly     you know     the subversive and transformative power of music     and all that    has not really come to fruition     I think that vision arose from what happened in the sixties     where it appeared a change of consciousness was taking place and that society was undergoing a widespread transformation and that transformation seemed to be encoded in the popular music of that time     you know    the Beatles      the Stones      Dylan      Hendrix      but all of those hopes were dashed in the seventies when it became apparent that those changes were always already taking place on the stage set    owned and manipulated by capital and all of that music was assimilated and commodified and turned into a mere simulacrum of rebellion     i mean a kind of mystification of the sixties     of what happened in the sixties      a belief based on that mystification      the dream of liberation which never really got actualized - i pause briefly gasping for air and then continue - and at the same time     all of this was accompanied by the backlash against the various emancipatory political movements that arose in the sixties     a backlash we've seen unfold over the decades up to our present time     why   even back then in the sixties    just what did they mean by society?      whose society?      that transformation may have taken place somewhat in some Western European countries and the U.S. but at the same time terrible things were happening abroad      the war in Vietnam      the various U.S. backed right wing dictatorships in South America       Asia      Africa      the Middle East     all backed by Western powers     none of those changes that were supposedly happening in some Western countries changed any of that     nor did they stem the rise of totalitarian capitalism     the rise of globalization     in fact    I would argue that much of that music has become an accomplice to the rise of globalization and neo-liberalism and the ensuing standardization of music has contributed to the erasure of local expressions of music in cultures around the world whose traditional musical practices have been displaced or outright replaced by western pop music or music modelled after western pop music - of course - Anders picks up again - it has gotten to the point where none of this may really matter anymore     the conquest has been so thorough and so brutally leveling that fighting back    criticizing     arguing against the system     any act of rebellion     falls flat on its face    gets spectacularized     rebellion is commodified and sold back to the rebels     as in music videos     it comes across as parody    you're allowed to say anything you want because it doesn't matter     it doesn't change anything    even the intelligentsia seems to have capitulated and retreated into their ivory towers      even as they put out an occasional publication which is interesting     only to their peers    for the culture at large has little or no interest at all in any of that stuff and looks upon them     or I should say us     academics    with increasing suspicion     those towers    I'm afraid    may soon come crashing down to the ground the way things are going - he says with a sardonic smirk on his face - the bar has been lowered so much on all levels in our society     our culture     morally     politically       intellectually     aesthetically and so on       few if any at all care to know anything about all these issues you're talking about     let alone what you mentioned earlier     the role      the function of art in our world today     or even if art does have a function or      for that matter      if it has a legitimate reason to exist in this our consumer driven society    our consumer driven lives     where art has been replaced by the products of the entertainment industry      we are living in a time where values have completely disintegrated      where commodities      products      converse in place of people in an increasingly impoverished language      all of which seems to me to be evidence of the end of aesthetic codes as Attali put it in that book of his we used to read back in our student days - Anders says with a sneer - still     I'm not ready to dismiss academe and throw in the garbage all their works even if     as you've said      those works end up being mere academic exercises that don't have any readily apparent practical value and don't connect with the rest of society     there still may be something to learn from them     even if the general populace has nothing but disdain for them       the masses have been wrong before in the past     and have done terriblethings     both on the right and the left      and who says that the so-called average man in the streets is somehow endowed with some kind of special wisdom       isn't that romanticizing     mystifying him or her as the case may be?       and who's to say that we      academics     are all that different from the so-called common man or woman?      don't we all have the same basic needs?     and as far as class is concerned     none of us here come from privilege      we were all born into working class families - Anders asserts now sitting up straight in his chair - no    we can't just give up     those of us who are involved in the arts      we can't just throw our arms down and stop     we have to continue with our work      because    though it may not be readily apparent    that work may still have something of value to offer society    and that includes the so-called common person on the street      even if he or she can't see any benefit to it      and because it gives those of us who make those works pleasure      it keeps us interested in life because we learn things about ourselves and the world    if nothing else    we must continue our work for the sake of our psychic      our emotional survival     our wellbeing - he says with a brief, dry smile - and so here we are      in the midst of Breughelland - he chuckles surveying the scene around us - Breughelland? - i ask  suddenly intrigued - are you referring to Ligeti's opera Le Grand Macabre?- yes - Anders answers - that wonderful Ubuesque opera by Ligeti       wouldn't you say it captures our times     our predicament very well? - he asks, a wry smile breaking on his face - more like the times have captured and imprisoned us - i murmur glumly as i see a thick and heavy darkness descending on the Grote Markt square seeming to dim the lights, giving them a yellowish tint,  blunting their rays, dampening all the sounds coming from the crowd which now looks distant to me; all the chattering, the merry making noise can't keep the unfathomable darkness at bay. A stifling fear, an overwhelming sadness and grief takes hold of me as i realize with a shudder, that it's only a matter of time before i and everyone else, will soon be engulfed by that frigid blackness, lost to ourselves and each other forever, never to be seen again. Anders looks at me with a frown on his face while leaning back in his chair and crossing his legs - anyway - he says - it's no secret that art has been alienated from society at large for a long time     not only for the reasons we've already discussed     but ever since it became autonomous      ever since it gained independence from the church      from religion     from the so-called nobility - he grimaces again - in fact     this alienation has become even more pronounced ever since     more recently    due to the growth of technological reason and modern science     it has lost its truth-function and consequently has been relegated to a separate and autonomous corner of the aesthetic - he continues while reaching for one of the beers the waitress has just delivered to our table - what's more      some would argue     this condition of alienation    this rift between art and truth    is one of the more salient features of the fragmentation of our modern world      an alienation and fragmentation that also affects us artists as well    its inevitable    if the role of art has come into question in this world     so too has the role of the artist     since you can't have one without the other      this is obvious in the reaction you get from many people today when you say you're an artists or a composer    a writer or whatever    they think you're being pretentious     even we have difficulty saying it right?    we feel self-conscious     I'm an artist    I'm a poet     I'm a composer      a lot of people think all of that is a thing of the past     like Mozart or Beethoven     not entertainers though    like your pop stars     it's ok to call them artists     that's ok - he says annoyed taking another hit from his nearly spent cigarette - still     I'm not entirely convinced that the split between art and truth is as wide and definitive as some theorists say it is      if i remember correctly     your favorite philosopher     used to talk about the truth content of the art work       and that art embodies a kind of knowledge      but it is a non-discursive knowledge in a manner similar to the way dreams are     implying perhaps that there is more than one way of getting at the truth or that truth is not a fixed thing but an ongoing process of discovery     an idea i find very exciting    don't you? - i look at Anders with a frown on my face and ask - what favorite philosopher?     you mean Adorno? - yes - he says leaning back in his chair - isn't he your favorite philosopher? - i take another sip from my glass and say - not sure i have a favorite philosopher anymore     they all seem dead to me now      the entire philosophical project seems utterly pointless to me now     it all seems to have fallen flat on its face     especially in light of everything you just said about consumerism and the total commodification of life     of course     he saw it coming     even back then    in his day     Adorno saw it coming     the complete domination of life by monopoly capitalism as he called it - ja - Nadja cuts in - and what I find really annoying is the putting on pedestals     the heroizing of all those big philosophers and critical theorists      the fawning over them     the wanting to bask in their auras as if they were deities      I remember while a grad student in New York    every year     some of them would come to our university to present a paper or give lectures . . . I mean    I like their work     it often is insightful      interesting to read and challenging and it makes me think in different ways    it's even beautiful    but I could never stand many of my colleagues'      especially some of my female friends who called themselves feminists and my male friends who thought of themselves as revolutionaries - she says emphatically, glaring at me and Anders - fawning over these famous    powerful academic men    these big theorists and philosophers      unquestioningly latching on to and ventriloquizing every word they said as if their words     their thinking were law or the word of God!     all those wise men with their oh so deep thoughts and insights - she scoffs - and I must say     despite all the talk about the need for the critique of power    those big philosophers didn't do much to discourage the fawning     especially when it came from women     to say nothing of the sexual harassment that goes on and the professors both male and female who engage in that sort of thing and have affairs with their students      and of course - she continues getting angrier - they reserved the right to judge and criticize but nobody could judge and criticize them    especially if you were a student     some of them got incredibly defensive    if you doubted     questioned or criticized anything they said     if you weren't readily willing to accept everything they said as the truth with capital t    you were liable to be subjected to some kind of punishment which could jeopardize your academic career and some of them showed their true reactionary colors in the way they reacted to the 9/11 catastrophe where they ignored or outright dismissed the historical context in which that tragedy occurred      namely     the history of western imperialism and interventionism in the middle east which has been the cause of so much resentment    so much hatred     a certain literary critic comes to mind in that regard     whose work I admired      she showed herself to be a total reactionary shit     an apologist for imperialism     and of course some of her poet friends     some of whom claim to be Marxists and whose works she discusses in her books     never took her to task about the things she said     had any of their students uttered those same words in their classes     they would have been punished    ridiculed    berated      humiliated as I've seen happen on several occasions while I was a graduate student there      complete hypocritical shits      the lot of them - Nadja says grimacing with disgust - it wasn't only irritating     it was disappointing     depressing     to see all those people who were always prattling on about the need for the critique of power and always preaching emancipatory politics reproducing the same old hierarchical     authoritarian structures which people have been reproducing for thousands of years     a glaring contradiction which most in that environment refused to look at    it was bullshit!     and I'm afraid that sort of thing is still going on      I see that tendency in some of my students even today - Nadja says visibly annoyed taking another drag from her cigarette - and speaking in more general terms     speaking of tendencies in society at large     despite the feminist critique of the patriarchy     we still continue to engage in competition      the patriarchy's game par excellence - she says scoffing again - it's all one big contest      it's perpetual war     playing the game on the patriarchy's terms     where you have women wanting to be part of the military and participate in wars and fight for corporate interests and imperialism or wanting to be part of the capitalist corporate world      be part of the capitalist system which is a system that has roots in slavery and colonialism and which      from its inception     oppressed everybody     women     children and men     animals and plants     the very earth itself! - Nadja exclaims annoyed - and this is celebrated as a big achievement for women!     all of this is presented as desirable     as something women should aspire to     being part of     and at the service of the patriarchal power structure!     being part of the capitalist hierarchy!   this is seen as a big achievement for women!     it's infuriating!     such utter bullshit!     I just can't stand it! - Nadja says angrily raising her voice further - I mean    what difference does it make what the color or gender of a person is if that person is going to serve the interests of power      if that person is going to serve the interests of the white patriarchal socio-economic order     if she or he is serving the interests of capitalism or any other such totalitarian      oppressive system for that matter - she exclaims angrily again - yeah - i mutter with trepidation - i could never understand why anyone     male or female     would want to be part of the military or the corporate world       why anybody would have those kinds of aspirations     I know the usual rationalizations      that it's patriotism     the desire to serve one's country    but of course there are many different ways of serving one's country     ways that don't involve violence and destroying people and countries abroad     there are by far more positive    constructive ways of serving one's country    I think some people use the patriotism argument as a cover for their desire to kill people who don't look like them    it's racially motivated . . . they enjoy killing and being part of the military legitimizes their homicidal impulses     I honestly think some people are attracted to the violence and the danger and exercising power over others through violence . . . of course the military and corporations have a lot in common      they're both hierarchical authoritarian structures where orders are given from top to bottom     a lot of people like that sort of thing     they feel secure in those kinds of structures     a lot of people really don't want to be free   they want to be told what to do    what to think . . . there's something kind of sadomasochistic about the whole thing . . . - yes     yes     everybody knows about all that - Nadja says impatiently interrupting me looking around  with an angry expression on her face, nervously swinging her crossed leg - going back to academe      I mean    I find I'm barely able to control myself    my irritation    when some of today's theorists who were part of the circles of those big philosophers and critics     and basked in their auras     come to Amsterdam to lecture and later on during dinner     take it upon themselves to tell me their cute little stories about Derrida      what food he liked     the little tunes he would hum or whistle     the jokes he liked to tell     how he played with his dog or his little cat or whatever     oh! oh! Jacques!     oh! Jacques!   oh! oh! oh!     oh! oh!     ah! ah! ah! ah! ah!      uuuuuuuuuuuuuu!   ah! ah! ah! ah! AH! - Nadja chants loudly with a mock orgasmic staccato making everyone burst into laughter - or about Jameson's backyard barbeques and baseball stories      and de Man   mijn God!    de Man    a fucking Nazi!     I had relatives during the war who were in the resistance     who were tortured by the Nazis and taken away to labor camps from which they never returned - Nadja exclaims angrily - how could someone like de Man . . . and Heidegger!     mijn God!    an avowed Nazi!   a member of the party!     and he never apologized for his Nazism either    of course what could he say?    no apology would ever be good enough after all the barbarism that took place during the war . . . how can they be given such respect in the academic and literary worlds!    even if their ideas are interesting!     even if their insights were spot on!     I could never accept this!      I find it infuriating that they get so much attention and respect in the academic and literary worlds     I never include their works in my classes      as far as I'm concerned they should be banished to oblivion! - she exclaims angrily again - every time the intellectual progeny of those big philosophers and theorists I mentioned earlier    come to Amsterdam     or I encounter them in a conference somewhere      they just have to tell me their same little insipid stories     and I    ever so politely     tell them      yes you told me about that last time I saw you    to which they respond feigning surprise   oh? really? I don't remember that    oooooh! sorry! - Nadja says again mockingly, pursing her lips - yeah    it's too bad when things like that happen     disappointing - i say glumly -  though I've always been partial to the Frankfurt School     I really enjoyed reading Derrida     Foucault    Deleuze     Baudrillard and others     I think their work is important     especially the critique of power and violence and the deconstruction of the entire tradition of thought on which power and violence are often based     or I used to think it was important anyway      it's been years since I've read any of that stuff     I'm well acquainted with the sexual harassment bit too and the idolatry     it tends to banalize the entire project of philosophy and critical theory in academia turning it all into somewhat of a circus     but the fact remains that academia is a power structure itself and it's one that doesn't get examined closely enough and openly so     the hierarchical nature of it    and those who hold positions of power in that hierarchy don't allow for such an examination for obvious reasons     which tells me that some of the individuals who talk about the critique of power and so on     do not examine themselves critically enough or even at all and put all the responsibility entirely on the political     economic and social institutions which are run by people who themselves don't examine themselves     don't examine their actions and motivations closely enough     I think it's rather naive to think that by just acquiring a position of power in a hierarchical system of some kind     whether     political     economic     educational      social etc. - i stop briefly to catch my breath  -  that one is going to be able to use that power to do good      more so if the individual in question has not studied himself thoroughly and doesn't have a deep understanding of her mind and how it works and what motivates his actions      if he is at the mercy of his impulses and fears     if one's actions are motivated by egocentricity . . . but even if one does study oneself and is aware of one's motivations     more often than not     one is surrounded by people in those hierarchical structures who aren't self-aware and whose motivations are based on selfishness and fear and whose actions are therefore defensive and short sighted      a lot of energy gets put into maintaining one's position in the hierarchy which is highly inefficient and counterproductive - but there are some examples of positive changes that have been brought about by political action - Nadja interrupts - like the Civil Rights Movement in the sixties     the Voting Rights Act     desegregation    the war on poverty    the women's movement     don't you think? - well yes     you're right - i say feeling my energy levels beginning to wane - but don't forget that all of that was going on while the war in Vietnam raged    and in which terrible things were done to that country by our government     they basically pulverized that country     what our government did to Vietnam was a crime against humanity     plus our government continued with its long standing policy of interventionism in Latin America and elsewhere in which horrible dictatorships which did terrible things to their people were propped up     and the war on nature has continued unabated     since that time and before then    our government  has allowed corporations     the fossil fuel industry     the chemical industry     to continue polluting and poisoning the environment which has led to the crisis we are currently in     not much has been done over the years in the way of prevention because the corporations hold so much power in our political system     not to mention that in recent years     a lot of those gains  you talk about     which took place in the sixties and seventies    have been greatly eroded - a heavy, palpable silence has fallen on our group of tables and seems to filter out the noise in the square around us. In an attempt to break the silence, i raise my voice and say - add to that     the rise of right-wing extremism and nationalism which is very frightening        in the U.S.     there is a large sector of the white population that agrees with white nationalism     white supremacy     and they are armed to the teeth     it's a very scary situation - i stutter awkwardly - over the past two decades political conditions have deteriorated in a way which can only be described as alarming     frightening     in a few years the gains of decades made in the areas of voting rights   civil rights   women's rights    environmentalism     is being rolled back and hypocrisy     greed and dim-wittedness are suddenly at the helm just as we saw in the previous century     here in Europe with the rise of fascism and totalitarianism     all of this is accompanied by a hostility to the intellect and everything intellectual     a philistinism that is characteristically hostile to the arts    the sciences     culture - i utter feeling increasingly nervous and self-conscious - and the masses      the so-called popular masses have been encouraged in this mind murder      this mind hunting by the autocratic rulers we have seen rise to power in the last few years      everything has     once more    overnight     become dictatorial as in times of old     as in the nine-teen-thirties      and I     for a long time     indeed for years    while teaching at the college      experienced firsthand      in my own person     in my own flesh       how they are after the heads of those who think     this hostility includes the students      members of the faculty and administrators as well    this smug philistinism is prepared to sweep out of its way anything it does not like     and that means mainly anyone who thinks    who is artistically and spiritually inclined     anyone who is not materialistically inclined     that is      anyone who is not capitalistically inclined     this philistinism     having the upper hand    is suddenly again being used by governments everywhere     the masses     the so-called popular masses     emboldened by their autocratic leaders     are on the move     clutching at their possessions     their bellies     their guns and their identities     their ethnic    their national     their so-called religious identities      they're on the march against anyone who thinks     anyone who questions and dares to disagree with them     it is a truly frightening situation     anyone who thinks and questions       anyone who is critical is to be mistrusted and even persecuted      as we saw happen during the rise of fascism and totalitarianism in the early part of the twentieth century     something similar is happening now - i say with exasperation and anxiety trying to catch my breath. i look at my friends who are glumly staring at me with deep frowns on their faces which makes me feel more nervous and panicky, prompting me to start speaking again in a louder tone of voice and at a faster pace - it seems to me that the entire project of philosophy and critical theory has failed miserably in dealing with the crisis we're in and have been in for a long time     for centuries      even thousands of years     our alienation from nature     our ongoing war with nature    which has been raging for thousands of years     the fragmentation of the human psyche     the division along ideological lines    the threat of all-out war between the superpowers . . . I was brought up to believe that by means of reason we could understand ourselves and the world we live in and that we could solve the various problems we are facing . . . and that by means of reason    a fundamental change of consciousness could be achieved . . . but philosophy    thought    reason      have failed miserably in bringing about the change of consciousness they once promised      this is a glaring fact     especially in light of      or     I should say      in the long shadow of the catastrophe that now looms over us and which    it seems     will reach its critical point in the not too distant future - i gasp for air again and continue - all that knowledge       all that very nuanced and virtuosic thinking we have seen from philosophers and critical thinkers and others      has not been able to  avert the widespread nihilism we have seen rising everywhere over the past several decades     it turned out to be a form of entertainment     distraction    escapism      intellectual escapism to be sure      but escapism nonetheless     I regret not having used that time and energy for activism     especially environmental activism    something I should have done long ago and may now be too late      we all should have been a lot more involved but we were all swamped in our academic careers . . . - oh come on now man! - Anders exclaims straightening out his long, boney, lanky frame in his chair while reaching for his tobacco pouch and rolling paper - you can't just throw everything in the garbage like that - why not? - i respond - well wouldn't that be nihilistic too? - Anders says visibly irritated - not necessarily - Nadja asserts - it could be putting aside what no longer works    acknowledging its limitations    seeing it is ineffective in dealing with the current situation      maybe J. Krishnamurti was right after all when he said thought cannot solve the problems thought itself has created     it just complicates things further especially when thought is based on egocentricity      he said a different kind of intelligence is needed - Anders and I sit quietly looking at her and listening, occasionally taking a drink from our glasses - he stressed the importance of understanding ourselves not just intellectually and according to what others say   not what some authority figure says we are    for example in psychoanalysis      but to find out for ourselves    and in this regard      he stressed the importance of meditation      not as some kind of method taught by some guru      but by just sitting quietly by oneself      in solitude and choicelessly      without judgement or any kind of condemnation      observe oneself      I like his idea of choiceless observation      choiceless awareness - really? - i hear Anders say with marked skepticism - just try and get billions of people rabidly addicted to consumerism all of whom want to live with the same living standards we have in the west    to stop and do this choiceless awareness you're talking about    most  people are not willing to do this kind of work on themselves     here or anywhere else    given that it's often unpleasant     even painful - or - i add - try and get the millions of rabid consumers here in the west    who are completely conditioned by capitalist ideology to read Nietzsche     Heidegger and Derrida     and who tried to deconstruct the entire  Greek based   logocentric western metaphysical tradition and make people aware of the underlying assumptions on which their views    their beliefs    their perceptions of reality are based and which they take for granted     try and get them to read and reflect upon Karl Marx's and other Marxist writers' critique of capitalism     try and get those millions   many of whom are overworked and underpaid     to read those very complex and nuanced texts which take a lot of time and energy to wade through and reflect upon     most people are too exhausted and don't give a shit to care    and what's more     they're very suspicious of academics    philosophers     intellectuals     and as of late    as you've mentioned already     this suspicion of intellectuals has been getting worse . . .  -  of course     Krishnamurti was Indian - Nadja suddenly interrupts - he was not part of the tradition of western thought    and    as I've seen often during my academic career    despite the various criticisms of ethnocentricity     there is a marked tendency among western thinkers to not take thinkers from other cultures seriously    there is a kind of prejudice and condescension    what strikes me as a hangover from the western    Eurocentric    colonialist mindset which saw other cultures and non-white races     as inferior     but this prejudice is hidden     it's been swept under the rug as they say    and I don't recall    during my entire academic career      ever having heard anyone address this issue - yeah    well - i speak up again - I read somewhere that toward the end of his life     Krishnamurti expressed misgivings about his life's work      he apparently felt no one had really got what he was talking about and he said he feared for humanity's future      he said he saw terrible things happening      he felt that he had failed to bring about the psychological revolution       the revolution of consciousness he spent most of his life talking about     I'm afraid I agree with that     he died about thirty five years ago and it seems a lot of what he feared is now coming to pass      the destruction of the natural environment     the growing climate catastrophe      pandemics      the rise of authoritarianism      the big powers of the world vying for position taking us ever closer to war - i realize that all along, i've been sliding down in my chair and slouching, as if my body was slowly melting or under a heavy weight pressing down on it from above. With considerable effort, i push myself up using the chair's arm rests and sitting up straight i continue - my parents used to tell me that back in the sixties scientists were warning about the dangers of pollution and over population     this was in the mid-sixties     Rachel Carson had just published her book "Silent Spring" a few years earlier in which she documented the detrimental effects of DDT on the environment      in particular the bird population      eventually    in the early nineteen seventies      DDT was banned in the U.S.  and some other countries around the world     but for decades its use in agriculture around the world had been widespread and scientists found traces of it in the fatty tissues of animals in the arctic and other remote places      evidently the stuff had been spread throughout the world by air and water currents     since that time     all kinds of other pesticides and herbicides have been used all over the world further adding to the levels of toxicity in the environment      not to mention the dumping of toxic waste from factories into our waterways     soil and air     like the factories along the Saint Lawrence causeway who for decades have been throwing PCBs into the river which has led to birth defects and deformities in the Beluga whale population who live near the river's mouth - i pick up a newly filled glass of beer from the table in front of me, take a swig and then continue - my parents also told me that they heard about the greenhouse effect for the first time in the mid-seventies     how scientists back then were warning about increasing amounts of co2 in the atmosphere and how we needed to transition away from fossil fuels and find other     cleaner sources of energy      that was forty five years ago or more     I wasn't even born at that time     and since then    little or nothing was done by the governments of the world to prevent the situation we now find ourselves in     and as you all know      for decades     the fossil fuel industry has engaged in a campaign of denialism and misinformation with the purpose of creating doubt and discrediting the scientists      and they still have enormous influence over our politicians and our political system - i hear cackling laughter and jeers coming from the crowd in the square. i turn my eyes in their direction and see the crowd has changed from real, living people to a mass of skeletons and rotting corpses. Throngs of them, marching into the square from the side streets, are stumbling and falling over each other forming heaps of cadavers that slide off one another onto the ground. Others are sitting around at the tables talking, drinking and smoking, farting or vomiting profusely. Still others are up and about leaping, hopping and twisting, contorting themselves in a grotesque dance to the eerie sounds of distant drums and high-pitched pipes, all of which reminds me of "The Triumph of Death" by Breughel. Some in the crowd have noticed me looking at them and wave at me playfully. Alarmed, i quickly turn my gaze away from the square and look at my friends who are staring at me with big frowns on their faces - is something wrong? - Anders asks looking concerned - I . . . I just saw your Breughelland crowd turn into a horde of skeletons and rotting corpses - i mutter with difficulty, feeling agitated - oh come on now man     you're drunk    you're just stressed out        you just need a break that's all - Anders says looking worried - just forget about all this for a few months or however long you need     it'll come back you'll see     go to Spain     lie on a beach in the sun    get laid      you need to enjoy yourself more   you'll feel a lot better in a few months' time    you'll see    you'll come back to your music    your writing with a fresh mind    fresh eyes and ears - i shrug and say - i don't know Anders   these feelings   this state i've been in has been going on for several years now      it may very well be we are in the time of the death of art Nietzsche or Hegel predicted    it has lost its place     its function    we do it for purely selfish reasons - we always have - Anders says - artists have always done it for themselves first and foremost      it's a need     we do it because we must - that may be the case - i interrupt - but the context has changed drastically      and whether we are artists or not     regardless of what profession one may have     we are still responsible for our actions and inactions      we are responsible to each other and our world     to continue working this way    just for oneself     is analogous to hiding one's head in the sand      not wanting to see things as they are      it's escapism      art as leisure activity as I believe Hegel put it     a different kind of action is needed    I'm afraid the arts too have failed miserably at bringing about the revolution of consciousness we were brought up to believe in      a revolution which is greatly needed if we are to deal with any degree of success with the immense problems that are now staring us in the face      it may be that the expectations we had from art were very unrealistic to begin with      we were deceived by our own love and fascination for it     and the things people told us about it      I'm afraid that fascination distracted us from doing what needed to be done     all along a different kind of action was needed and we failed to heed its call      we just didn't give a shit     we were too wrapped up in ourselves      as usual      if I sound pessimistic it's because this situation has been going on for decades without much significant change      those who have the power do whatever they want and the rest of us just put up with it for fear of retaliation of some kind     we consoled ourselves by hoping that someone      the scientists       our elected officials would do something about all these problems we are facing      of course scientists have been trying to do something about it      for years they have been sounding the alarm     for a very long time     but by and large     governments around the world haven't had the will to do anything about it - oh come on now man! - Anders exclaims - you're being far too negative     you need to have more hope - really? - i answer back - I'm the negative one?     and all along I thought the negative ones were those who are causing so much destruction in our world    you know     the big corporations who continue to poison our world      to poison us      who create wars for profit and exploit us with impunity     the big imperialist     autocratic governments of the world who want all the power for themselves and are willing to go to war for it     and to think that all along I thought they were the negative ones     silly me    what was I thinking! - i say smiling sarcastically at Anders - and as far as hope is concerned      it's beside the point      we've wasted our time hoping      it's past the time for hope    long past    a different kind of action is needed      has always been needed     from the very start - ja     hope is part of the problem - Elise suddenly cuts in - we've been hoping for decades and decades and very little has changed in any substantial manner     we are still stuck in the same rut heading for disaster      hope is just another form of postponement      it's escapist      I agree with you when you say that a different kind of action is needed - and what kind of action do you think that would be? - i ask her with a friendly smile - to be sure it would involve a massive rebellion where we show up with torches and pitch forks at the residences of the powerful and hold them accountable - Elise says grinning facetiously - and how do you propose to mobilize the masses to do that? - i say - I don't know    I think it would happen spontaneously when the pressure gets too unbearable     of course that may lead to total chaos     it seems a lot of people aren't really clear about who the enemy really is - she says waving her hand dismissively - yeah     that's a good point     well     by then it might be too late      as far as the ecological problems are concerned - i mutter blearily - to your point about knowing who you're fighting    we recently had an insurrection in our country but it turned out the insurrectionists didn't really know what they were fighting      they didn't really know who their enemy really is     they were in fact defending the enemy     the big corporate powers     the rich who own and control the country and the political system     they thought the enemy is the politicians     and to be sure     many of them are corrupt     but they are not the ones with the real power    and they were also blaming people of color and other minorities all of whom don't have much power at all      certainly not much when compared to the white majority - come on man - Anders says - you need to take a break    you need to go on a good vacation   forget about all this    go to the south of France     lie in the sun   go to Italy    have some good Italian food  and wine    that Mediterranean diet will do you good - oh Anders!    please! - i hear Nadja exclaim - you sound like one of those silly    stereotypical characters in one of those corny self-discovery Hollywood films - really now? - Anders asks beginning to chuckle - yes! - Nadja answers - you know     the ones with the disaffected     privileged      white businessman or housewife in midlife crisis . . . go to Napoli!     eat some-uh pizza!     watch a football-uh match-uh     learn to enjoy the simple things in life-uh eh? - Nadja says putting on an Italian accent and gesticulating with her hands after which she switches back to her normal voice and says - go to Bali     live the "simple" life with the "simple" people in a small "simple" village - she smirks making quotation signs in the air with her fingers - have the village wise man instruct you on how to live      blah dih blah dih blah       have an affair with the artsy      eccentric expat and all will be fine!      most of my Italian friends can't stand Italy      the corruption     the inefficiency     why    they all want to move to Sweden      how boring! - she exclaims again - well    at least the trains run on time - i hear Anders counter beginning to laugh, the rest of us can't help ourselves and are shaking uncontrollably with laughter at Nadja's playful mockery. At the same time, i hear laughter rising from the crowd in the square, they seem to be laughing with us. i look in their direction and see the horde of the dead all looking at us, laughing wildly. The revolting stench of putrefaction wafts across the square in our direction but i seem to be the only one in our group who notices it. i nudge Anders and point to the square - what is it? - he asks - look     they're back again    the dead    they're laughing with us . . . or at us . . . - i say trembling with fear - what are you talking about?     have you been smoking my stuff?    are you having delirium tremens? - he says jokingly, i shake my head still terrified and look away from the crowd. Anders takes another drink from his glass and in an attempt to change the subject, leans closer and says - well    in any case    you're not the only one who is experiencing the kinds of feelings you were describing       the feeling that it's all been done in music    the arts     is really quite widespread      many are feeling this crisis you describe and it can have some profound and unsettling psychological effects       disturbing effects I should say     in some cases a profound ontological crisis caused by losing what once gave one a sense of identity      a sense of meaning and purpose in life     one's sense of being is called into question     which in some cases can lead to a psychotic break     or what some refer to as a dissociative disorder      not the least of which are the phenomena of depersonalization and derealization - he takes a last toke from his cigarette and snuffs it out in the ashtray on the small table we're sitting at - what do you mean? - i ask feeling apprehension - well     based on what I've read      depersonalization and derealization are temporary psychological effects produced by trauma     some kind of traumatic event in one's life and are characterized by the feeling of being cut off from reality as if one were behind a barrier    like a pane of glass between oneself and the world     or as if one were living in a dream      as if one were high and can't come down - he says beginning to roll another black tobacco and hashish cigarette - one can also have feelings of not being real    which some call derealization and is characterized by the impression that one's physical actions and one's body are not one's own     these symptoms are often accompanied by visual phenomena such as tunnel vision     static      distorted and blurry vision     and interestingly    a kind of flat   two dimensional vision or that things look the way they do in a dream    other symptoms may include a distorted sense of time      the fear of going insane      so-called existential thoughts      emotional numbness     a blank or foggy mind    memory loss and strange fears of an obsessive nature - what do you mean by existential thoughts? - i suddenly blurt out - thoughts about the nature of existence      what it means     if anything     to be alive    to be here in this world     questioning the very nature of existence     of reality - Anders says while carefully rolling his cigarette - but isn't that normal? aren't those things people ponder throughout the course of their lives? - i ask as a deep feeling of unease wells up inside me - well     yes     once in a while or maybe just at certain points in their lives but they soon become involved in the hurly burly of everyday life finding meaning or purpose in it and soon forget about the existential stuff     but people who are experiencing depersonalization and derealization tend to obsess about it and are often besieged by feelings of pointlessness and emptiness       an emptiness they describe as having the effect of producing a deep feeling of meaninglessness in life      in existence      in some cases      some people have been driven to suicide by such feelings    but anyway     all of these symptoms are supposed to be temporary    they're supposed to wear off after a certain amount of time - he says with satisfaction as he stares at his new and deftly rolled cigarette which he quickly puts between his lips - and what if the trauma is an ongoing process? - i say shifting uneasily in my chair beginning to feel irritated by Anders' detached, nonchalant manner - well - he answers smiling - then maybe we're screwed and if we are going to feel depersonalized and feel as if we were high all the time and can't come down      if we are going to feel as if we are living in a dream     we might as well get high and enjoy it - he says chuckling lighting up his cigarette - how do they say?     if you can't beat ‘em join ‘em? - he utters between puffs, the smoke dimly veiling his pale blue eyes and angular face as it rises and dissipates above his sandy colored hair. Thinking back, i can't remember a time when Anders wasn't high on something. In our student days it was the very popular ecstasy along with the ubiquitous hashish laced cigarette - and what about the grief? - i utter hoarsely under my breath - how do we deal with that? - the grief? - Anders answers back tentatively - yeah      you know     the grief of seeing year after      decade after decade      the destruction      the brutality       the callousness      what grieves me most is seeing decade after decade     since I was a child      the destruction of nature and how little has been done to stop it - i utter with increasing irritation - are we supposed to just adopt a flippant attitude about everything     intoxicate ourselves and have fun? - i say sarcastically - well - Anders begins - that's what our creative work is for    it helps us work through the grief    our pain - oh please!   how is it you've become so sentimental about art! - i exclaim exasperated - so disgustingly sentimental about the arts and heroizing them to boot!    art as savior blah dih blah dih blah    you really don't believe that shit do you? - Nadja interjects snidely -

but art     I mean especially politicized art      seems to be condemned to a certain harmlessness    in part due to excessive explanation     it's been explained away     people become inured to it by all those boring explanations and being lectured at    being talked down to by people like me - she says giggling self-consciously and taking another sip of schnapps - and in part due to it having always remained in the margins    which it can't leave if it is to maintain a critical distance from mainstream culture where it would become formalized and ritualized    packaged into a museum piece    and then discarded      ignored and thus neutralized     tamed - Anders smiles and shrugs and begins blowing smoke rings into the air. Danica sticks her tongue out at him and then makes a loud farting sound at him all of which elicits a guffaw from Anders who then shrugs again and continues blowing smoke rings - and creativity!     just what does that mean in this day and age where everything is derivative    repetitive!    a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy!      the idea of creativity is itself derivative    a nineteenth century notion    as is the idea of the new! - i exclaim again annoyed - we've been through all that already    as I've already said      the arts have failed us miserably     art was supposed to change our minds    it was supposed to bring about a radical change of consciousness      it was supposed to teach us how to think and perceive in different ways     for a long time we searched for the new sound and soon arrived at a point where it seemed new sounds     new timbres had been exhausted      but this is always from the point of view of a doer who acts upon an objective world that is seen as separate from him or herself     the doer    the observer    who is in reality an integral part of that world     an aspect of that world - i say tiredly catching my breath - back in the eighties     Nono     Berio and Lachenmann were already saying this     that the new sound     the unfamiliar sound was no longer possible and that all that was left us was to work on the grammar of music     work on finding different and new ways of structuring the materials of music     but maybe it's time not so much for a new sound  but a new listening      it is time for the listener to do the changing from within without expecting something or someone to force that change upon her or him from the outside as it were      we have to do the work ourselves    in ourselves      instead of waiting for someone or something to do that work for us    it is the listening and the listener who are old for we have hardened    crystalized into hardened personalities     into things    hardened egos whose senses have become blunted as if covered over by dead skin     scar tissue     we've become completely covered over by scar tissue - i say with exasperation while slowly sinking in my chair - our entire minds     our entire bodies     covered over by scar tissue    we live in a cocoon of scar tissue - i say breathing heavily - I mean      for a long time we thought that by changing the sounds this would change our listening     change our minds     our so-called insides      our consciousness       but this requires that we    the observers     change     deeply      wha' I mean is      we want the world around us     the world outside     as we like to say    to change according to our desires    our wants    but never do we think of changing ourselves      we've become calcified     assimilated into the walls of a maze    like coral growth    we've become assimilated into the walls of a labyrinth that extends in all directions    radiating outward from our cities and towns like a cancer growth consuming nature and replacing it with our calcareous growths      wha' I meant to say is     we've become stiff    settled in our views and habits     it is our senses     our listening that are old     not necessarily the sounds we hear - i say feeling wobbly, slurring my words - the sound of a violin or a piano    those very familiar sounds     may sound utterly new    if our senses were changed      if our senses were somehow renewed    if we could listen to them as if for the first time      wha' I'm really trying to say is that for a long time we thought that by making new sounds      finding new sounds     new and different timbres      this would change our listening and this would lead to a radical change of consciousness      but those new sounds soon became old once they were internalized by our hardened egos     with their repetitive habits     once those sounds became part of our memory's repertoire of things to hear - i mutter with increasing exasperation and unease - we want the world outside      as we are wont to say     to change for us     while we remain unchanged     crystalized into a collection of habits      we want the world outside     as we are in the habit of saying    to change     but we don't want to look at the entire structure of our minds      which have calcified     we don't want to do any changing ourselves     we are utterly selfish - i say nervously feeling a panic attack rising which begins to restrict my breathing - the whole world is a mass of fortifications and embattlements and each individual     if they can truly be called that     is a mass of fortifications and defense mechanisms - i say fidgeting nervously with my hands - none of us are truly willing to change ourselves from the inside out    to really look at the entire structure of our minds     our habits    our motivations and change all that     we always want the world outside to change for us who are unwilling to change ourselves from within     we are unwilling to adapt ourselves to the so-called world outside    but we want the so-called world outside to adapt itself to our so-called insides     to our so-called world inside     we always want the so-called world outside to adapt itself to us and our desires     our whims     and if it doesn't      if it resists     we force it    we bulldoze it    we pave it over     we turn it into a projection of ourselves    of our insides   we try to force the world to adjust to our ideals    to our beliefs    to the images we create in our minds and so live in constant conflict with the world and ourselves     but more often than not       the world     life    the universe is indifferent to our desires - i say meekly struggling to breath - I mean     back in the eighties    when I was a child    Berio    Nono and Lachenmann were saying this     they were already saying new sounds are impossible and that we need to focus our attention on the grammar of music     how compositions are organized     it's been decades since then and here we are in the midst of an unfolding catastrophe made by ourselves - i say weakly feeling wobbly again - this catastrophe in the making is our real true composition    or decomposition if you prefer     we are in the middle of a catastrophe in the making and all you can think about is art?      there won't be any art if we don't have a livable planet! - i somehow manage to exclaim - putting ourselves into our work     our so-called artistic work     at this point     in the current context is tantamount to burying our heads in the sand      it's utter selfishness     yet another distraction      more escapism     a different kind of action is needed! - and what action would that be? - Anders retorts - well    that is the question    isn't it      I just don't know    maybe one that requires we put our lives on the line     how many of us do you think are willing to do that? - i ask snidely - we may have to fight to save our world - i stutter angrily - but that would lead to more destruction - Anders answers back -All of a sudden i'm feeling dizzy and nauseated, i lean forward in my chair as a jet of vomit forcefully ejects from my mouth. i slide off my chair and fall to the ground still vomiting - mijn God! - i hear Nadja exclaim, Danica and her friends begin laughing raucously - Anders!  do something! - Nadja shouts. Anders quickly gets up and leaning over me takes hold of my arm and starts to pull me up. i sit up supporting myself with one hand on the ground, then Anders, putting his hands in my underarms, lifts me up onto the chair - man! - he exclaims - you've had too much to drink to soon! - you think? - i answer back babbling helplessly - yes! - he says - come on    we have to get you home and in bed - wait! - i exclaim pointing at Elise - that's her line! - Elise and Nadja look at each other wide eyed and start giggling - I think it's time for you to go home! - Anders says helping me stand up i turn toward Elise and say - it was nice meeting you     i hope to see you again soon - of course - she says smiling - it was fun     i'll call you     you can visit with me in Utrecht - sounds good     sorry for the mess - i utter with embarrassment as i notice my vomit covered shirt - no problem   no worries - Elise says beginning to giggle again - Taking me by the shoulders, Anders turns me around in the direction of Prinsegracht, the main avenue we are to follow back to Anders' apartment. Nadja gets up quickly and walks around the tables toward me, she then embraces me giving me a kiss on the cheek and says - it is so nice to see you again - yes     it's nice seeing you again too - i murmur mechanically - I'll call you next week     I want you to come and stay with me in Amsterdam for a few days ok? - yes - i mutter back - i would really like that - and pointing at Anders i say - this guy is really starting to get on my nerves with all his drinking and smoking - Anders shakes his head and chuckles - Anders    please take care of him - Nadja says sternly - of course     what else can I do?    he's completely helpless! - Anders says loudly - yes   I'm a completely helpless and useless human being - i say in a monotone emulating what I think of as a robot's voice and start goose stepping as Anders begins pushing me from behind, all of which elicits more laughter from Danica and her friends - glad to've been of service to y'all     toodle doooo - i chant waving at them. As we move toward Prinsegracht avenue i suddenly catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye, the corner of my right eye, to be precise. Trembling and with mouth agape, i turn my head toward my right and see a tall figure clad in a long, black overcoat standing on the far-left corner at the rear of the square. His hands are clasped at either side of his large, deathly pale, balloon-like head. His eyes are two dark holes and his mouth another, larger black hole from which issues a screeching sound that cuts through the crowd's noise. i turn to Anders and with urgency shout - we better get the hell out of here! -  why?     what's wrong? - he says - never mind    lets get out of here - i stammer - don't tell me - he says sarcastically - it's the dead again     oooo      oooooo - he chants mockingly trying to make a spooky sound as in a horror movie - Walking becomes difficult as it happens every time i get drunk, my right leg grows stiff as if i've suddenly developed a peg leg and now i find myself hobbling along awkwardly trying to keep up with Anders whose long gait seems undiminished by all his drinking and smoking. Not a word transpires between us as we walk toward his apartment where i've been staying for the past few weeks. Halfway down Prinsegracht avenue i'm feeling nauseous again and ask Anders if we can rest for a moment. We stop by the entrance of a women's clothing store with big glass doors with brightly polished brass handles. Though the store is closed, the lights are on in the display windows which show mannequins in different poses wearing different kinds of garments of varying styles and colors. I lean against the wall by the entrance breathing heavily. i see a middle-aged woman with dark curly hair wearing a long grey coat and holding a large black purse approaching us on the sidewalk. She stops in front of Anders and addressing him in Dutch asks while pointing at the store entrance - excuse me    do you work here? - no! - Anders booms in his basso profundo voice as he looks down upon her - we don't work at all! - oh! - cries the woman stepping back a few paces. i can't help myself and burst out in loud laughter and begin vomiting again - mijn God! - the woman exclaims alarmed - you drunken idiots! - she yells angrily and briskly walks away from us furiously clutching her purse with both hands against her body while swearing. i'm leaning against the wall with one hand alternating between laughter and vomiting, barely able to keep myself standing. Chuckling, Anders takes me by the arm and begins walking me down Prinsegracht again toward Hofje Zoutkeetsingle, the small, dead end alley where his apartment is, on the other side of the canal after the avenue makes a sharp turn north - what the hell was that all about?    i mean     what was she doing out at this time of the night?     why would she think you work at that place? - i ask panting - who knows - Anders responds - I've seen her around before     she's one of the neighborhood's eccentric characters - you mean like us? - i ask snickering - yes    like us - Anders says chuckling again - takes one to know one I guess - i say giggling in my drunken glee, Anders chuckles in response and continues pushing me along. Soon we are at the elbow where Prinsegracht makes a sharp northward turn. We amble across the avenue toward the blue steel bridge that straddles the canal and walk across. Then we turn right onto Zoutkeetsingle the street that runs parallel to the canal. We walk for half a block along the canal and then cross the street to the small alley and Anders' apartment. Once inside, i hobble as quickly as i can to the bathroom and take a long, drawn out piss. After i'm done, i stumble out into the main hallway and see Anders sitting at the kitchen table with a large glass of water and a vial of painkillers - take a couple of these    it will help you with the hangover tomorrow    make sure you drink all the water      i'm going to sleep     see you tomorrow - he says tiredly and walks away down the hall to his room. i wash down a couple of pills and after finishing off the water stagger over to the guest room and close the door. Sitting on the edge of the bed, i slowly take off my soiled clothes and throw them on the floor in a corner and then lie down on my back in the darkness face up toward the ceiling. In the midst of the dark silence, i hear the light, intermittent sounds of scraping and tapping on the windowpane caused by the branches of a bush outside moved by the breeze. As i slowly begin to drift away, the scraping and tapping gradually becomes the gentle sound of a raspy voice, at first distant, then growing closer - like yourself    I'm a prisoner - it says softly - like everyone else     a prisoner in this labyrinth     the vast machine that engulfs us      protects and terminates us     while making us feel cozy in its embrace    the entire city     the entire world an abattoir - the voice whispers hoarsely - i give myself these words     these thoughts     because i have nothing left to give     nor am i able to receive anything      i am satiated     the thoughts     the words of others no longer penetrate my mind     my cup is overflowing      the sights i see     the sounds i hear no longer reach me      they seem distant     all i hear now is the mumbling     the ongoing mumbling     this mumbling i perform to comfort myself in the midst of so much nothingness     to keep it at bay lest it seep into my body    if I still have one    into my mind     like a fog or mist taking over everything    smothering me    my voice     blinding me with its darkness     turning me gray from the inside    erasing me    there is a host of us now    trying to keep the fog at bay      mumbling     chanting     like a chorus      a crowd    in different rhythms and tempos       creating a vast contrapuntal texture      a weave of gentle sounds that extends in all directions      rustling      into the boundless night    or perhaps into less gloomy quarters      seeking out the warmth     the luminosity of stars     wrong again     there is no content to lean against      no concept to lean on    by the sounds     listening to this kind of tactility      where mutations first arise     and permutations form     with each new motion of the waves     rocking me gently    like flotsam      all that's left us now are words     our cries and words that stop our mouths with silence      death is the only change permitted us now      we head to the sea      to the dunes where the bunkers are      we adopt each other's mannerisms          the wind tosses us about in the tall grasses and weeds      speaking in tongues      our pain is unutterable     no one can speak it     it is only cries and sobs now     as we lie in furrows carved out by the North Sea wind near the bunkers      looking up at the gray rolling sky      the grasses and weeds leaning over us - the voice whispers raspingly - at last i begin to listen     as they come and go     lapping at my ears     my mind      my dry     arid bones      belonging to no one     the cold earth perhaps    yet still longing      though shedding all hope to recover what is lost    as these are ancient cares and the mind cannot always brood on the same cares      without however vanishing completely       for i feel myself drifting toward other cares      found linking the other which receding finds the wind drifting among the tall grasses     in the etiolated fields    they glide off      been not the they     like in the mad    writhing scribbles of a trembling hand




left, aloof

in the dust

of so much

the rest can't

help themselves

shattering

 

alone on a roof top

at last

the least of which

begins to laugh

 

que lo parió,

la sputum mother!

we are who we say

we aren't,

blatantly balbuceando

a diver searches for,

come chingones

soplando la huella

de la my troka,

hashtag fans my,

discos readily apparent

where hope is

beside the point,

at the same time

escuchando la rola

what you are talking about

hablando de la nada

by the sounds failing

 

suppose that what not;

knots of discontent were

as if by dreams an intent,

staring in horror and

then again, some more

every day, you're

all the same, with a firm

grip, sonrisa metafora

what i means to tell you

is not necessarily the same

immersed in becoming

a babbling

 

 

by the sounds falling     la huella se disipa     dyspeptic    speaking of which      it sounds very     a lot of fun is often a whole lot of     no more than    rationalizations swerving by far more     skeletons in the shade embracing    too late for contact tracing     the closet door now slamming shut    flings us back to normal moving us forth into amnesia      did the poet laureate mentioned the war criminals who sat behind her squinting in the sun    ensconced in a comforting sea of expensive suits and fancy dresses    washing their hands    minds and faces     are there no hinges on which to hinge on     synecdoche cascading in the me again     the thingliness of solid darkness where the we     here with     no more as soon as     we call it      in us    deep furrowed frowns      i keep going on like this     around in circles    repeating myself for fear of having     the act of into a moment     are not the     as a kind where other complex   connect possible includes an into    laterally     exchanged    disrupts us in the each    sedimented seemingly primarily the babbling     the brain    text pulsating with its own extraneous turbubabulence     tangentially bleeding into

                                                                                                                                       i hear an opens again gently     folds the entire it       the sand scribbling to burst       the that is of      itself over upon it no longer a gleaming      even linking and in able to a stranger      reading shards saying of it     through meanings consuming myself       nothing wants for broken light and that art      mumbling to listening the darkness wanting      waving translucent      then curtained the edge      the door     long piss      back to an array     can say that again      you     my apricot     from over back from about that the and      walk to     i take a walk with      the door      ok      i       i mumble back      lands am an infinite smashing shrubs       it's a long unfathomable       in the cold each telling      every word      talking about       a wobbly picture splits into a sense of highway days      are aspects with a border      plus this      from over back from about that world shifting gently      describe a bout     from over back from about that    every word crossing out a world suppose knots of as if staring      then every all the same       what i is not      immersed in by the is      often embracing    moving us in squinting hands again     i can to see of these     and of the     by the sound of an everyone      while whispers am i able     all in the into my darkness      a vast into the stars listening to  of the that     to the in the it is only looking at last   the last     not about but a bout     an about face without orders that disorders into off course     an ebullient turbubabulence

the void folds itself over from outside    according to spacing itself     from a there is which is now snow     the entire it upon it    plus this with a light made     anticipation stranger     beneath forgotten     it is that in the sand    no longer eyes    stars further patterns on and into swarming     enfolded laterally exchanged text scribbling a gleaming      world passing like that     the tide after     choked me up      me up from ready to burst    reading shards     shifting etched in a skin that i only     myself into by the thought constructed      ears saying of it     knowing gently and describe abouts      of disorders that splatter     sense of a site even through meanings of the while which i try     articulation scratching for the intro      the never linking    consuming primarily discourse non-sense fixed in and in moment      seemingly bleeding     not even and in myself     not  myself      orders that scatter what's it where?     can't really beneath my being      able to bridge a gap where there is not what but just     passing over which passes     an about face     a stranger begotten       reality speaking      are aspects of that unknown and breath alternating a bout      the that is its non-fixed surface      hook up areas with a border     splits into two which makes it so much forested      of which and between which also      stretches across a sense of sight      cascading on deeply furrowed lands my final destination where words form me on rainy highway days       a dam constructed      dot dot dot     am i words?    am i worlds?     a loving luminosity that pervades everything     even the darkness      in an infinite sea     forming sentences      writhing what to write      what wobbly picture is i about?     the wind smashing my agony      nothing wants for     i escapes into obscurity      bemoaning a moon      for the sake of      shrubs twist me into broken light     beneath awnings and trellises      talking about the     and of course     it's inevitable      and that art embodies      a frown on my face      every word crossing a world      for a long time      it has lost its     stop briefly to catch my dreaming       i'm a corpse buried six feet under    snug in my coffin     mumbling to myself so as not to see my surroundings     the solid darkness that engulfs me mumbling and listening    listening and mumbling by turns     listening to the mumblings of others like me ensconced in the darkness     their voices     perdendosi . . . perdendosi . . . into the cold     unfathomable blackness     the voices of young and old     women     children and men     muttering      each telling themselves their stories    each listening to my stories and the stories of others     in the unending darkness     the the     the that the this that the is the it upon which the is upon which the succumbing to the this the that can't remember which and and in what order that which this signifies disappearing behind an endless fence made of its disappearing behind an infinite fence made of ises can't remember which an ongoing horizon alternating shifting horizons       the sand     the text scribbling me

 

i hear a knock at the door. The sound of distant traffic reaches my ears. The knock comes again, the door opens and i hear Anders say - hey man      it's almost noon     do you want some coffee? - yeah     ok - i mumble barely audible with closed eyes - how are you feeling? - Anders asks - i don't know - i mumble back again. i hear Anders chuckle - i've got breakfast ready in the kitchen if you want some - i hear the door close gently. After a few minutes i stretch my body, open my eyes tentatively and lying on my side stare at the curtained windows across from me. The translucent curtains gently filter the incoming light. i slowly sit up on the edge of the bed rubbing my eyes and then notice i have a splitting headache. i get up slowly and walk to the door, open it and step into the hallway. i then amble down the hallway to the bathroom where i take a long piss and then standing at the sink, begin splashing cold water on my face. After drying my face i walk back to my room and put some clean clothes on and head for the kitchen. Anders is sitting at the table with an array of food stuffs laid out before him. i see a coffee pot, mugs, plates with slices of aged Gouda cheese, and roggebrood, a butter dish and a jar each of apricot marmalade and strawberry preserves. i also see the bottle of pain killers he gave me last night before i went to sleep. i immediately reach for the painkillers and sitting down, open the bottle and take out a couple pills which i then wash down with a few mouthfuls of strong black coffee - I thought you might need those - Anders says chuckling - you really tied one on last night - you can say that again - i mutter back softly, wincing from the pain in my head. i take a slice of roggebrood, my favorite Netherlands bread, my favorite bread ever, and begin applying butter to it after which i dab apricot marmalade on it with a spoon and immediately stuff it into my mouth. Still chewing, i take another drink from my coffee mug - I was thinking about what you said yesterday      about the supremacy of the visual over sound      over listening in our culture - Anders says - yes?     what about it?    did I say that? - i answer back while still munching on the slice of roggebrood with marmalade - well - Anders says after taking a sip from his coffee - I seem to recall in Attali's book Noise    in the chapter called Composition     that he talks about the technology of recording images as one of the soon to be main technologies of composition     he felt that this new technology     the recording of images      would become an essential tool for composition - yeah      well - i mumble back - he wrote that book back in the late seventies     he had no idea what direction technology was really going to take    no one that I know of back then anticipated the development of the internet     laptops and cell phones . . . why?     do you believe what he said about music being able to anticipate developments in society?     that music has a premonitory function in society? - he said that music was once again functioning in a premonitory way - Anders continues - that it foreshadowed a mutation in technology as evidenced in the expanding proliferation of new musical instruments like your various electric instruments of that time     which he compared to the development of new instruments in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries predating the industrial revolution      your synthesizers     tape machines     electronic studios and the growing use of computers to generate music and so on and that the herald of this mutation was the recording of images which he saw as eventually becoming one of the essential technologies for composition    despite the fact that the recording of images was still a tool for stockpiling and repetition - Anders pauses to take another drink from his coffee - it still is - i mutter back with skepticism after taking another bite from my roggebrood slice and then continue with a bulging cheek - the technology of recording images    your ever ubiquitous digital cameras     phone cameras and so on     has multiplied the stockpiling and repetition to a degree such that it's suffocating      we are buried in a flurry of images      bombarded from all directions    through the various media      especially so-called social media        I think what's really going on is that we are burying ourselves alive in useless information      we have been doing this for a very long time  actually - my attention returns to my marmalade covered slice of roggebrood as Anders says - he thought that the new technology would allow people to transition from being mere passive consumers to becoming more active producers of what they listen to and would derive just as much satisfaction from the process of manufacturing itself as from the object produced     he felt that the new emerging technology would find it's true usage in the production by the consumer herself of the final object - Anders pauses and lights one of his hand rolled cigarettes and then continues - in his conception of composition    Attali envisioned a different political economy     he said that production blends with consumption and that the stockpiling of labor which simulates sacrifice     is replaced by the investment of violence in the act of doing as opposed to channeling it into an object    in this manner violence is no longer channeled into sacrifice     it is no longer a threat as it was in repetition      it no longer mirrors itself in representation      each person then assumes the imaginary and violence individually through the pleasure of making      creating     constructing      and in this situation each person can dream up his or her own criteria     in this manner      time is liberated by composition    it is lived time     not stockpiled    it is measured by the magnitude of the time lived by people     which takes the place of time stockpiled in the commodity - all that sounds great on paper as they say     but has that really happened?     it may have happened with a very small group of individuals     like ourselves      but which remain utterly marginalized - i say with skepticism, abruptly interrupting Anders' monologue after which he continues unabated, mechanically - he saw most of commodity production changing to the making of tools which would allow people to create the conditions for taking pleasure in the act of composing     he felt that the essential usage of the image recorder was in the private use of the manufacture of the consumer's own gaze upon the world     and more importantly     upon his or her self-directed gaze and the self-pleasure this brings     as I seem to recall Attali himself saying     Narcissus after Echo   eroticism as an appropriation of the body - to a degree he was right - i answer back with a shrug - I mean      isn't this what has happened with cell phones and the profusion of selfies?    and people posting their selfies online everywhere in social media and so on?    I'm not so sure that's such a good thing though     that it has had such a liberatory function as Attali seemed to think it would have      I mean     what's so great about all that?    the consumer has become an active participant in the spectacle    the society of the spectacle as Debord would have it    where he or she   the consumer     is completely subsumed    absorbed into the society of the spectacle      that doesn't strike me as liberating at all     more so considering that a lot of what is being produced is imitation of the stuff your pop stars are already doing which itself is derivative    in other words they are reproducing what is always already in the system     the entertainment industry    which is a limit cycle    and are thus participating in the economy of repetition and stockpiling that the technology of recording images     according to Attali     was supposed to liberate us from    all I'm seeing really is that the technology permits the average person on the street to play at being a pop star     their fifteen minutes of fame as Warhol put it      while keeping him or her stuck in place in the class system     in the production consumption machine     while leading them to believe they're exercising some kind of freedom      it creates the illusion of empowerment      an illusion that perpetually postpones the real thing - i say snidely turning my attention to the aged gouda and then continue - it seems to me that the body     and the mind for that matter    have been caged     imprisoned in the grid of the production/consumption machinery     and mutilated by that grid as has the subject     the subject and his body sacrificed to the production/consumption machinery       the consumer is the ultimate object of consumption     snagged and mangled by the machine's gear wheels      devoured by the system          the body and whatever interiority it may have     has been neutralized and de-realized in the virtual realm . . . by the virtual realm     and therefore rendered socially and politically impotent while at the same time the subject is hypnotized by his own products     he or she sees posted in the media     the subject is hypnotized by its own gaze in fact     the ultimate self-surveillance     whose ultimate effect is paralysis   we may be seeing that depersonalization and derealization you talked about last night but on a massive scale      it seems to me that the body is lost rather than appropriated by the consumer turned producer     abstracted in the realm of virtual reality    the flesh replaced by a digital representation      we've all been replaced by avatars . . . maybe that's not such a bad thing though     maybe that's one way to recover some of our privacy     by going completely anonymous     masked by our digital representations - i mutter as i bite into a slice of roggebrood and cheese - but    as Debord said somewhere    the spectacle's domination has succeeded in raising entire generations molded to its laws     ourselves included      I mean    this idea of Attali's     composition     turns out to have been overly optimistic it seems to me    naive even    this notion in which people will begin to compose for themselves and shift from being mere consumers to being producers      which to some extent has occurred given that digital technologies have made the production of music easily possible for those who don't know how to play an instrument     and it has made it possible for people to record their own music    and affordable      and able to distribute it online     but the fact still remains that overwhelmingly      most people in our society today are consumers of music rather than producers      rather than composers - well - Anders cuts in - but as you know     there is an international group of musicians    performers and composers who gather informally to create music    a kind of nomadic crowd producing nonidiomatic music    largely improvised     using computers and analogue synthesizers in combination with traditional instruments as well as new instruments some of the composers and performers build themselves     they operate locally    in local venues as well as globally using video conferencing    and have created an international network    this has been going on for quite some time now     for several decades in fact    you and I have participated in this sort of thing ourselves - well yes that's true - i utter back now chewing on a slice of roggebrood with butter and strawberry preserves - but     not only are they a small minority in the world     they are also largely     if not totally marginalized      what they do     has not been accepted in society at large      it has not had      the great transformational and liberatory effect Attali predicted      it may have a liberatory effect on those few musicians who practice this informal kind of music you are referring to     but it seems to me that society at large is mostly indifferent to it     if it is aware of it at all     most of these musicians who practice this sort of musicking     have receded into anonymity      they hide in anonymity     and share their work    which remains largely in the fringes     mostly with other composers and musicians like themselves      most people      most consumers are completely overpowered by commodity music    by consumerism     by the products the entertainment industry forces on them through the various media     you said this yourself last night at the Grote Markt     in fact    their entire lives     their sense of identity     is completely dependent on consumerism      their sense of self  and their self-esteem is completely dependent on what they buy and own      and this serves an existential    an ontological function    it provides meaning and purpose the way religion used to in centuries past - i say dabbing more strawberry preserves on what's left of my slice of roggebrood - that's just scratching the surface - Anders says - well    isn't that what we're always doing? - i mutter back, as i chew on a new slice of roggebrood, this time with aged Gouda on top - I mean      just when we think we've got something figured out     there's another surface below or behind that one     it's like a fucking onion man - i say, my cheek bulging with a mouth full of bread and cheese - the surfaces      the layers never end man - i hear Anders groan as he rolls his eyes while i take another drink of coffee - are you saying there is no objective reality    no cold    hard facts? - he asks visibly irritated - that is a cold hard fact - i retort amused - reality is layer upon layer of surfaces man     just when you think you understood it    something else shows up     or . . . uh . . . surfaces     as it were - i say giggling lightly as i stare intently at what's left of my slice of roggebrood - something that eluded our perception      our imaginations     maybe your scratch is deeper than mine    but it's still just a scratch - i say distractedly while dabbing some butter on another slice of roggebrood - man    this roggebrood is sooo good     I can't get enough of it - i say with enthusiasm licking my fingers while anticipating putting a layer of strawberry preserves on it - well no - Anders answers - what I'm trying to say is not as hopeless as the things you were saying last night - I didn't say that the situation is hopeless     although that may very well be the case - i answer back - what I said is that hoping is hopeless     the act of hoping is obsolete       to continue hoping is a waste of time and energy      a different kind of action is needed - i utter while licking my lips and dabbing strawberry preserves on my piece of roggebrood after which i continue with vehemence - it seems to me  that now      I mean today    in this day and age     this age of totalitarian capitalism and  its attendant absolute nihilism     and the fanatic consumerism with which people try to compensate for the emptiness brought on by that nihilism     which is an existential       an ontological problem     an embodiment problem      where the body has been sacrificed to the system     it seems to me that if there is to be music     I mean     if one is to write music      a kind of music that takes a critical position vis a vis absolutist capitalism and its entertainment machinery     and a music that is authentic   meaning    one that truly arises from us   the people    as opposed to being merely the product of conditioning and imposed from above by the entertainment industry    if there is to be any such music at all    silence must be the most important aspect of it     a music that is made up primarily of silence and  incompleteness     consisting also of unfulfilled gestures     gestures which are discontinuous    out of context    a music made up largely of absence    this silence     this absence is the most important aspect of it      the most expressive aspect of it      its refusal to say anything in a sea of meaninglessness and utterly boring expressions like those produced by the entertainment industry - i now bite into my piece of roggebrood relishing the combined taste of bread, butter and preserves and then continue speaking obsessively while still chewing - it must be arid    stripped of its usual expressivity     I mean      expression in the traditional sense    as in the so-called classical tradition and it's modernist reaction      the avant-garde etc.    as well as the kinds of expressions or expressive clichés one hears on a daily basis in the products of the pop music machinery      the utterly boring and mind-numbing ocean of inanities one is exposed to through the various media on a daily basis    arid     aridity is the word I'm thinking of      music must be desert-like      barren     with very little to offer at least in terms of the old habits of listening and thinking are concerned    the constant repetition that keeps us from learning anything new      keeping the listener stuck in a psycho-emotional limit cycle - but to a great extent   that's already been done - Anders says in a matter-of-fact tone of voice looking me in the face - you could say Feldman    Cage and Lachenmann have already made silence and absence part of their musical aesthetic - yes    well     I was getting to that - i answer back still munching on my slice of roggebrood with strawberry preserves - the problem with all that music is that it is still about art    with capital "A"     it's artsy    it's still about status and saving face     about competition     about winning and being right     and this is especially true in academe     it's still about mastery      it’s romantic     in the sense that it is heroic and all the nastiness and violence that comes with heroism     we need a music that is not afraid of falling flat on its face      a music that is not afraid of making a fool of itself     a music that is not about mastery and saving appearances - i mutter under my breath eyeing the apricot marmalade - this reminds me of the relation between resistance and creation Agamben or possibly Deleuze    can't remember which     spoke about somewhere - Anders says - I like what he      or possibly they     said about potential and impotential - yes?     what did they say    what did they mean by that? - i ask taking another drink of coffee - according to Deleuze or possibly Agamben     can't remember which      there is something in each act of creation that opposes and resists expression - Anders says between puffs from his cigarette which he then sets down in an ashtray - either Agamben or Deleuze or possibly both     said that to resist     etymologically means to hold down      to stop      to stop oneself     this power that stops or withholds potential in its movement toward the act is impotential - he says emphatically as he serves himself another cup of extra strong coffee - the potential not-to     possibly Deleuze or Agamben said that impotential    the potential not-to    is the power that stops or withholds potential in its movement toward the act     Agamben or Deleuze      can't remember which     or possibly both      said      the act of creation is a field of forces that stretches between impotential and potential     acting and resisting     being-able-to and being able-not-to - Anders says now taking a slice of roggebrood and dabbing it with butter and marmalade - either Deleuze or Agamben said we human beings are capable of having mastery of our potential     but only through our impotential can we have access to it     though because of this     in the end    there is no mastery over potential and being an artist means being at the mercy of one's own impotential - oh cut the crap man!      creation!      creativity!    blah dih blah dih blah! - i spit out annoyed - as I said before     the whole idea of creation and creativity is highly problematic     it seems to me all we can do anymore is take the materials we already have at our disposal in our society     our so-called culture and rearrange them     perhaps in collage-like fashion    recontextualize them and thus change their significance     their meaning    did they really use that worn out and loaded over romanticized word when they talked about art?    I can't believe they were so naive - i say again annoyed and then pick up Anders' hashish laced cigarette and take a long drag from it after which i place it back in the ashtray - be careful with that! - Anders exclaims - you're going to make yourself sick again! - i shrug and then continue - I can't believe you still believe all those myths about art and creativity we were raised on     what people care about today is buying stuff and being part of the machine that tells them to buy stuff      it serves an ontological function     it has replaced the ontological function religions and other spiritual practices once had     it's really a kind of secondary satisfaction - i say biting into another piece of roggebrood and apricot marmalade - it's an attempt to find substitutes for a primary satisfaction of wholeness which we somehow lost and which left a large hole in its place      it's an attempt to recreate a state of undivided consciousness     an attempt to recuperate the primary satisfaction of unity with our environment     with the earth       with the cosmos itself - i utter with difficulty while chewing my roggebrood with marmalade - all of our culture is a form of substitute satisfaction      an attempt to console ourselves for the loss of kinesthetic wholeness      the loss of primary unity we once had with the world - or that's some sentimental false nostalgia for a time and a state of being that never really was - retorts Anders taking another drag from his cigarette - yeah     well maybe you're right - i answer back feeling lightheaded - in any case      going back to music     it must be reticent      a stuttering music      in a very real sense     the unmusical      the malformed     the fragmented    the broken     that which doesn't work      that which functions poorly      is most relevant here because it doesn't readily lend itself to being assimilated and used by the system - but for how long can one sustain this? - Anders asks - well      I don't know - i answer back already feeling high and beginning to giggle - I mean    no one can live in a perpetual state of resistance      a perpetual state of combativeness - i say between giggles - I mean     I can't      you burn out - yeah - Anders cuts in beginning to laugh - that's why I've been telling you to take a break - what are you talking about - i exclaim laughing out loud - I've been on break for a long time now!     for years!     I stopped composing     I stopped writing     I hardly ever listen to music      I haven't read much of anything for years     I try watching films but I fall asleep in the middle     I find it hard to suspend disbelief     it all seems so obvious to me    so transparent     none of all that helps me deal with the grief I've been feeling     seeing year after year     decade after decade     the barbarism of egocentricity and the I's     the me's compulsion to impose itself on the world      the brutality of power and all the senseless wars      the slow death of our world about which most of us don't do anything     I'm seeing death everywhere     there won't be any art     any music if we don't have a livable planet       what I find highly problematic       truly disturbing       is this existence in which we can't change anything       we're not allowed to      there no longer are any transformational poetic experiences     the arts have lost their critical     confrontational power      nor are there any truly satisfactory political experiences either      people have become inured to what imprisons them      they find it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism    they can't imagine the end of what oppresses them    they dare not     all of which leads to a generalized state of existential boredom     a kind of calm before the storm - i say giggling nervously, licking marmalade from my fingers - 



Acknowledgement

 

Some sections of Song of Anonymous are composites made of bits and pieces taken from other texts, whether in the form of a direct quote or as paraphrases, which when put together in collage or bricollage fashion, constitute the narrator’s voice or rather, his many voices. A list of these sources is provided below.

 

1) Adorno, Th. W., “La posición del narrador en la novela contemporánea,” Notas Sobre Literatura, Obra Completa, 11, De la edición de bolsillo, Ediciones Akal, S.A., 2003, Sector Foresta, 1, 28760 Tres Cantos, Madrid, España.  My translation.

(Adorno, Theodor W., “The Position of the Narrator in the Contemporary Novel,” Notes on Literature, Complete Works, 11, From the pocket editions, Ediciones Akal, S.A., 2003, Sector Foresta, 1, 28760 Tres Cantos, Madrid, España.  My translation.)

________________, “La forma en la nueva música,” Escritos Musicales III, Escritos Musicales I – III, Obra Completa, 16, Ediciones Akal, S.A., 2006, Sector Foresta, 1, 28760 Tres Cantos, Madrid, España. My translation.

_______________, “Form in New Music,” Musical Writings III, Musical Writings I – III, Complete Works, 16, Ediciones Akal, S.A., 2006, Sector Foresta, 1, 28760 Tres Cantos, Madrid, España. My translation.).

 

2) Andrews, Bruce, Paradise and Method: Poetics and Praxis, Northwestern University Press, Evanston, Illinois 60208-4210, 1996.

 

3) Artaud, Antonin, “Artaud the Momo,” Watchfiends & Rack Screams: Works From The Final Period, Ed. And trans. By Clayton Eshleman and Bernard Bador, Boston, Exact Change, 1995.

 

4) Ashbery, John, April Galleons, Viking Penguin Inc., 40 West 23rd Street, New York, New York, 10010, U.S.A., 1987.

 

---------------------, Collected Poems 1956 – 1987, ed., Mark Ford, The Library of America, Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., New York, N.Y., 2008.

 

5) Attali, Jacques, Noise: The Political Economy of Music, University of Minnesota Press, 2037 University Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN 55414, 1987

 

6) Austin, James H., Zen and the Brain, MIT Press paperback edition, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, fifth printing 2000.

 

7) Barthes, Roland, “Writing and the Novel,” Writing Degree Zero, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith, Hill and Wang, 1977.

 

8) Bataille, Georges, “Oresteia,” The Impossible, trans. Robert Hurley, City Lights Books, San Francisco, 1991.

 

9) Beckett, Samuel, “The Unamable,” Volume II, Novels, The Grove Centennial Edition, series editor, Paul Auster, Grove Press, 841 Broadway, New York, NY, 10003, 2006.

 

10) Berman, Morris, "Coming to Our Senses: Body and Spirit in the Hidden History of the West," Echo Point Books & Media, Brattleboro, Vermont, 2015.

 

11) Bernhard, Thomas, Gargoyles, trans. Richard and Clara Winston, The University of Chicago Press, 1986.

__________________, Gathering Evidence: A Memoire and My Prizes, translated from the German by Carol Brown Janeway, Second Vintage International Edition, November 2011.

__________________, Old Masters: A Comedy, translated from the German by Ewald Osers, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1992.

__________________, The Loser, translated from the German by Jack Dawson, Afterword by Mark M. Anderson, Vintage International, Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, October 2006.

 

12) Bernstein, Charles, “Artifice of Absorption,” A Poetics, Harvard University Press, 1992.

_______________, “Hearing Voices,” in The Sound of Poetry, the Poetry of Sound edited by Marjorie Perloff and Craig Dworkin, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London 2009.

 

13) Bernstein, J.M., The Fate of Art: Aesthetic Alienation from Kant to Derrida and Adorno, Polity Press, 65 Bridge Street, Cambridge CB2 1 UR, UK, 1997.

 

14) Bonca, Cornel, Don Delillo’s White Noise: The Natural Language of the Species, in White Noise: Text and Criticism, Don Dellilo, ed. Mark Osteen (New York: Viking critical library, Published by the Penguin Group 1998).

 

15) Cope, David, Computers and Musical Style, A-R Editions, Inc., 801 Deming Way, Madison Wisconsin 53717-1903, 1991.

 

16) Debord, Guy, The Society of the Spectacle, translation, Donald Nicholson-Smith, Zone Books, 1226 Prospect Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11218, 1994.

 

17) Deleuze, Gilles, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, translated by Tom Conley, University of Minnesota Press, 111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520.

 

18) Deleuze, Gilles, Guattari, Felix, “Becoming Intense, Becoming Animal, Becoming Imperceptible,” A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Translation and Forward by Brian Massumi, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2009.

 

19) Dickinson, Emily, "Emily Dickinson's Poems: as She Preserved Them," edited by Cristanne Miller, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, 2016.

 

20) Dworkin, Craig, “The Stutter of Form,” in The Sound of Poetry, the Poetry of Sound edited by Marjorie Perloff and Craig Dworkin, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London 2009.

 

21) Ehresman, David E., Wessel, David L., Perception of Timbral Analogies, IRCAM, 31 rue Saint-Merri, F-75004, Paris and, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, U.S.A.

 

22) Flowers, Brandon, “Spaceman,” Day & Age, The Killers, Island Records, 2008.

 

23) Gallup, Smith, Tolhurst, “Charlotte Sometimes,” Standing on a Beach, The Cure, Elektra Records, 1986.

 

24) Goldsmith, Kenneth, “Introduction,” in Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age, New York: Columbia University Press 2011.

_______________, “Language as Material,” in Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age, New York: Columbia University Press 2011.

_______________, “Revenge of the Text,” in Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age, New York: Columbia University Press 2011.

 

25) Guattari, Félix, Chaosmosis: an ethico-aesthetic paradigm, translated by Paul Bains and Julian Pefanis, Power Publications, Power Institute Foundation for Art & Visual Culture, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

 

25) Joyce, James, Finnegans Wake, introduction by John Bishop, Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A., 1999.

 

26) Krishnamurti, Jiddu, Krishnamurti’s Notebook, Krishnamurti Publications of America, P. Box 1560, Ojai, CA 93024, 2003.

 

27) McCaffery, Steve, Prior to Meaning: The Protosementic and Poetics, Northwestern University Press, Evanston, Illinois 60208-4210, 2001.

 

28) Paulson, William R., “Literature and the Division of Knowledge,” The Noise of Culture: Literary Texts in a World of Information, Cornell University Press, 1988.

 

29) Perloff, Marjorie, “After Language Poetry: Innovation and Its Theoretical Discontents,” in Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy, Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press 2004.

____________, “Language Poetry and the Lyric Subject: Ron Silliman’s Albany, Susan Howe’s Buffalo in Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy, Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press 2004.

____________, “Unoriginal Genius: An Introduction,in Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press 2010.

 

30) Roads, Curtis, Microsound, First MIT Press paperback edition, 2004, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England.

 

31) Roads, Curtis, The Computer Music Tutorial, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, 1996.

 

32) Rowe, Robert, Interactive Music Systems: Machine Listening and Composing, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, 1993.

 

33) Serres, Michel, “Rats’ Meals – Cascades,” The Parasite, trans. Lawrence R. Schehr, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, London, 2007.

 

34) Silliman, Ron, “Who Speaks: Ventriloquism and the Self in the Poetry Reading” in Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word, ed. Charles Bernstein, New York, New York, Oxford University Press 1998).

 

35) Stevens, Wallace, Collected Poetry and Prose, The Library of America, 1996.

 

36) Taylor, Timothy D., Music and Capitalism: A History of the Present, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637, 2016.

 

37) Watten, Barrett, Questions of Poetics: Language Writing and Consequences, University of Iowa Press, Iowa City 52242, 2016.

 

38) Wörner, Karl H., Stockhausen: Life and Work, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, 1976.

 

Rus Khomutoff, POINT OF PROMISE