on Returns

I'm back, baby.

  • I’m back, baby.
  • I’m sorry, sir. It’s been over two years. The best I can offer is store credit.

 

***

dissertation: finished

Ph.D.: finished

grading: finished.

writing: always already unfinished.

***

To return

as to the scene of a crime.

To haunt.

“To announce oneself, moreover, is that not already to be there in some way? One does not know if the expectation prepares the coming of the future-to-come or if it recalls the repetition of the same, of the same thing as ghost.” – Derrida.

To be plagued.

“… like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.” – Morpheus.

To be plagued by recurring dreams.

“I could be bounded in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.” – Hamlet (antic mode).

To remember, or, in remembering to create, recreate, distort, disturb.

“I waken out of this forgetfulness very quickly. In great haste, I reconstitute a memory, a confusion.” – Barthes.

***

It’s a slow process, getting back into the habit of writing for an absent public rather than the specific critical eye of a dissertation chair. And, given the times, a difficult one. How does one begin? How can one beginning without accepting incompletion, inaccuracy, false premises, a foundation of shifting sand? And, having begun on such a precarious foundation, how does one build a career, a life of the mind, on such inconsistency?

“To fail in everything, it is true, will always remain possible. Nothing will ever give us any insurance against this risk, still less against this feeling.” – Derrida.

But rather than wallow in imposter syndrome, I return: like a criminal, like a ghost, like the past. Returning to the scene, to this scene, this scene & screen of writing. This mystic writing pad that bears the traces of old ideas, abandoned and misguided thoughts, and one-sided conversations will once again send echoes into the æther.

I aim to think of it as something of a sounding board, a test kitchen, where I work out in the open air ideas that I am putting together: book proposals, journal articles, short stories, noise works, &c. And, so much as I am able and qualified, perhaps I will endeavor to comment upon our current state of perpetual crisis.

Perhaps the abyss will answer back.

 

 

 

 

On Gun Nuts & God Botherers

Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there telling me I’ve got to beware. 

– B.S.

What’s the point? 

The lines have already been drawn. 

The line, the drawing of the line, the demarcation of inside and outside, of self and other is the origin of noise, the origin of exclusion, exception, & the failure to understand. 

And no one is backing down (compromise is for the weak and we must never show weakness — think of the children — unique not special). 

We revert to tribal behaviors. I don’t believe that I am a fascist or a terrorist, thus my desires must be universalized. 

Kant wept. 

I learned it from you (people). 

And nothing is being done.

I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t believe the way I do (if only they saw the facts [as I see them]). 

While the capitalists count their money. 

Semantic arguments based on the failure to understand synecdoche. Incomplete and inconsisten comparisons. (I’ve got a definition of ‘tool’ for you.)

Because we only preach to our choirs, only ask after Echoes.

Neither Good Host nor Effective Parasite, ever failing our Guest Right. 

And the capitalists count their money. 

But it’s not my fault. I was born this way. 

Blame it on the brain. (Gotta blame it on something). 

God is dead, God remains dead, and we love a good zombie. (Here we are now, entertain us. Send money.)

I don’t seek or claim certainty. But there is no convincing those who believe they have it that there is no such thing. 

The more I sneer, the more you fear.

And the capitalists count their money. 

sonic / filmic / liminal

these are not good work.

or, I am not in a position to judge them as such.

but they serve a purpose. They exist to make a point, or attempt one. I like them well enough.

I am not particularly inclined towards image work. This has long been a disappointment for me. I haven’t taken to cameras, though I have owned a few. I am terrible with figures (both photographic and pictographic). My pacing seems wrong. But I like what I do with sound.

Sound by itself, especially that which I am calling my post-noise work (post-noise in the sense of post-rock. it comes after and is informed by foundational noise artists but is not of the same tradition, cannot approach noise in the same manner), likely creates interesting visual imagery in the mind’s eye. It is likely not what is herein paired.

And it is that pairing, that forced juxtaposition that is meant to be focused upon here. Images out of focus, repeated, permuted, stalled that are forced into conversation with sonic elements that drift, that also permute but differently, that do not align. What is the reason? Why these images? Why these sounds? What does it all mean?

I make noise to be liminal. To test boundaries, to recognize and trace boundaries. To raise questions that cannot yet be answered. The abyss is calling. We lack perspective. One must enter the vortex, knowledge (even knowledge through madness) is necessary for life. These videos seek one such liminal zone, one such barrier island, one such no man’s land. Do they find it? Do any of us?

 

music courtesy of Delta Brainwave Society

film courtesy of Delta Brainwave Society

 

A certain delirium: on Noise, Water, Meat

The trouble is that noises are never just sounds and the sounds they mask are never just sounds: they are also ideas of noise.

So begins a series of meetings, approaches, interactions with texts, with noise, paranoia, truth, control, and authority. As I work my way through these texts towards my exams and dissertation, I will be working through associations, links, commonalities, and synchronicities. Noises, one might say, that cannot help but signify (when played loud enough).

Douglas Kahn lays out in his introduction to Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts a definition of sound that is rather broad and encompassing:

By sound I mean sounds, voices, and aurality – all that might fall within or touch on auditive phenomena, whether this involves actual sonic or auditive events or ideas about sound or listening; sounds actually heard or heard in myth, idea, or implication; sounds heard by everyone or imagined by one person alone; or sounds as they fuse with the sensorium as a whole.

This argument has a certain hollow ring to it (if one might be permitted to play with it, or strike it forcefully with a mallet). It seems constructed, as introductions often are, to tie together disparate elements of a text that would not be otherwise unified, to project into the text a clarity that the text itself lacks. To wit, Kahn’s text is long and sprawling. To what end do the questions of water and meat add to the question of noise? To what end are William Burroughs’ writing on the word virus and Artaud’s screams connected to noise? To noise as the suppressed, the outside, the unwanted, the meaningless that maintains meaning? Why are imagined sounds and ideas of sound treated as part of Kahn’s definition when, despite the length of the text, actual sonic events and practices are not fully explored? It is not that the connections are not there or the associations lack meaning and import, but there is a question of focus, of scope. There are limitations, but if one wants to philosophize with an amp@11 one must begin where one can.

Noises haunt. For Douglas Kahn, noises haunt the arts as they are suppressed, sought, elevated, silenced, and imagined. There is, indeed, a spectral reality to noise, a shifting hauntology, an absent presence that once found, once remarked upon signifies and thus fails to be noise after all.

it is only what is made of noise, of the history of noise, that must explain itself in the face of the possibility that there is no such thing as noise.

But what then is noise?

The existence of noise implies a mutable world through an unruly intrusion of an other, an other that attracts difference, heterogeneity, and productive confusion; moreover, it implies a genesis of mutability itself.

But what then is noise?

This repeated question is not meant to diminish Kahn’s work. For he does, indeed, offer several working definitions of noise. It is meant, rather, to highlight that definitions of noise are always working definitions, contextual, situational, limited.

So the definition of noise might be regarded as of far less importance that what can be done with noise, how noise might be used to challenge norms, regimes, power structures (those that would impose a definition and enforce an exclusion).

Thus, the grinding sound of power relations are heard here in the way noises contain the other, in both senses of the word.

Though the rhetoric of emancipation is an easy trap.

Subvert the Norms! Noise for Everyone! Democracy is Noisy! 

The statements are true in the way that slogan are always true and never falsifiable. Can noise be emancipatory? Certainly. Is it inherently? Not in the least (c.f. the LRAD).

Kahn is aware of this and goes to great lengths to point out the subversion of emancipatory rhetoric in one of the Great Saints of Noise: John Cage.

When he hears individual affect or social situation as an exercise in reduction, it is just as easy to hear their complexity. When he hears music everywhere, other phenomena go unheard. When he celebrates noise, he also promulgates noise abatement. When he speaks of silence, he also speaks of silencing.

Noise is a tool. Noise is a metaphor. For Kahn, it is a means of understanding a certain period of avant garde art that he seems particularly taken with (his water and meat metaphors are less developed though still focused on a particular subset of the arts). Kahn does however challenge several sacred cows (making fine steaks), give a detailed (if sprawling) overview of the possibility of noise and silence, and serves as an important introduction to the theory of noises and Noise Theory.

 

 

all quotes from:

Kahn, Douglas. Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2001. Print.

Helmhotz appears.

Composed while listening to KTL, IV.

When the Internet was Serious

An “authoritative Web site” is an oxymoron.

– Jay David Bolter, Writing Space

This revelation will come to everyone: that every form is absurd once taken seriously.

– René Daumal, The Pataphysical Essays

I have had this blog for nearly a year now. I only know this because it is reminding me to pay up for the privilege of having tacked my name on the Internet. Tax write-off, I suppose. Or it will be, one of these days. The price of doing business. Branding the academy. Just in case anyone is wondering, the adjectivalization of my name is “Zwintscherubic.”

I’ve had this blog for a year and put up 10 posts. Because the internet must needs be serious. Because the trivial and unrelated cannot sully an official website of a would-be academic. And there is something to that. One has to maintain a consistent front lest society find itself unable to sort you into the appropriate box. There is no other path to understanding.

And yet.

And yet the theories that I am proposing, the ephemeral thoughts that I scribble on reciepts, ramble into the iPhone voice recorder, type into word docs that get lost in a less than ideal filing system are specifically about tracing the trivial, the third meanings, the unintentional, the signification of the insignificant. So why, indeed, would I wait until I have fully formed thoughts before I put them out to a potential audience? That only serves to let the ideas drift, melt away, become forgotten or half remembered as deadlines approach and other concerns take precedence (generally the concerns of life and authority).

So an idea of the possibility of a potential for change.

As history confirms, people will change their minds about almost anything, from which god they worship to how they style their hair. But when it comes to existential judgements, human beings in general have an unfalteringly good opinion of themselves and their condition in this world and are steadfastly confident they are not a collection of self-conscious nothings.

– Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy against the Human Race

To New Beginnings (this same model?)

And so we begin again. We, the royal we, the editorial.

The Internet.

Theory and the signature. This one is signed, marked by the name, by my name, or a version of it. This one is labeled, is official. An effort towards coherence. Gather together the least of these my brothers and keep them all in one neat box.

There is much to be said. Questions of the discipline in saying, continuing to say. Of repetition and permanence.

But this is theory. This is academic. This is the ruins of an ivory tower played through the static on a flickering LCD. This is art. This is the story of a man walking into a bar carrying a bag full of broken chain links and 7 overdue library books. The intersection then. With identity, the signature, and the devil. Out on Highway 61.