Archive for the ‘Deleuze’ Category

The shape of thought to come: Musings on The Ornette Coleman Quartet

January 7, 2010

I take jazz improvisation to be a model for permanent revolution in society at large” Eugene Holland, Deleuze and Music

The album Ornette! is electrifying. The fluctuating pitter-patter cross rhythms and squeaky choppy eruptions of unexpected sounds feel like they’re blasting Being apart with snare and sax. Patterns grow and fade-out becoming intense with a gradated tempo and flickering motifs of delightful repetitions with a difference. There’s a forcefulness to it, an aggression one could say, but in the sense of trying to create new objects, unthought objects. To make objects that burst out between the gaps of the apparatus of mobilized rational society, its marketed castrated intensities and conceptualized modes of living.

The Quartet float out effervescent enunciations, crystalline things that re-set the rhythm of you body from an ordered structured clock time of contiguity and predictability to one a liquidated dimension of the joyful uncalculated being-there. This music is a sensual drenching, a celebration and reminder of the edifying and contingent experience of being that erupts in the gap between the thing and nothing. If consciousness is memory, as Bergson would proclaim, the experience of listening to music is the pattern matching of ever new layers of fresh memories. Memories that come and go yet linger on as remembrances of patterns and intensities.

The Quartet acts like a de-tuning process, taking one away from the register of the world as concepts, as structure, as order, yet forms these things organically, harmonizing to patterned resonance, disarray and back again. They play in the cracks, filling them up, bursts them open to let our ears feast on the fertile-soils and strange ripe fruits that are passed over by the unadventurous.

The freejazz of the Quartet is the finest example of a playful music of sporadic rapid movements between experimental existences. There is no imperative of beat, tempo and direction. The instruments wrap themselves around each other, like interweaving rainforest undergrowth that symbiotically spread and multiply. It is jarring, distorted and uneven; it strikes as rough waves of noise, especially if one is used to calmer warm seas that caress you in polymorphically perverse comfort. Beat chop and change, waves splash, bubble and morph into eddies and currents that move with relentless creative force. However, it is not random and neither is it anarchic. The weeping sounds that open Peace are not unstructured as such, but create an ephemeral mood that is welcomed like Rumi’s guests at his Guest House: “A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all!”.

There is an emotional logic of sensation, as Deleuze would say, an instantaneously apprehended magnitude, where the irrational logic of a spasmodic sharp spontaneous reaction lingers in the memory-consciousness of the listener and player. Understood as a unit operation, it is “an understanding, largely arbitrary, certainly contingent, of a particular situation, compacted and taken as whole”. It is the procedure implementation of non representational randomness where man experiences himself as an accident… and likes it.

The Quartet do not battle against their sound’s structure like musical deconstructionists, but create in the playful seriousness of children’s games which morph through praxis that feeds back into the memory of a malleable given of the game structure. The music of the Quartet is not in fear of structure.However, there is always a fidelity to the enterprise of their collaboration: the fidelity is not to a mood, a sound, a rhythm or a idea, but to the exploration of the unknown and unforeseen.

The form and content of the music is creative and fecund. There is no obligation or expectation other than in playing with the possibilities of objects created by sax, drums and bass. These possibilities are generated inside the immediacy of their local assemblage, the apparatus by which they speak being from the depths. I feel in freejazz, the light and lightness of a deterritorialized line of flight, the permanent revolution of subjectivized freedom whose message is echoed in the instructions of Deleuze and Guattari who can bring this article to a close:

“This is how it should be done: Lodge yourself on a stratum, experiment with the opportunities it offers, find an advantageous place on it, find potential movements of deterritorialization, possible lines of flight, experience them, produce flow conjunctions here and there, try out continuums of intensities segment by segment, have a small plot of new land at all times. It is through a meticulous relation with the strata that one succeeds in freeing lines of flight…” (ATP, p.178).

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Regimes of signs: the marked body

November 14, 2009

lg_tattoo_window.jpgIn Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari (D&G) propose society to be defined by the mode of representation given by its machine of expression or ‘regime of signs’, not its material relations of economic production and exchange. Society is not based just on a system of exchange, as thought by Levi-Strauss, but ‘a socius of inscription where the essential thing is to mark and be marked’ (Anti-Oedipus: p.142). The first form of inscription is territorial machine of primitive inscription. This involves tattooing, carving, sacrificing, mutilating, and so on: to inscribe the body or organs into the collective investment of desire of the whole tribe. Within late capitalism, the flows of decoded social inscription operate fast enough to destabilize such ‘primitive’ means of tribe identification. Yet, this process of performance and inscription has not ceased but expanded at an ever faster rate. Attempts to follow the territories of social identity and behavioral complexities as they emerge end in farce, leaping from one new haircut, tattoo design, clothing fashion to the next. Within modern capitalism, we promote the total inscription of the body into regimes of signs dictated by capitalist modes of production, i.e. the commodification of the body.

This post is largely inspired by my reading of D&G and the mounting pressure to get a haircut. But this is not such a simple thing. To get a tattoo, haircut, buy a brand of clothes,  mimic a popular form of fashion or social practice, is, I sometimes feel, to be the victim to the pleasure of the other. Let me explain. In situations such as tattooing and piecing, their is real pain which is inflicted during the process of inscription. As D&G note, Nietzsche understood the infliction of pain to generate pleasure in those observing. The process of tattooing is a pain for the pleasure of the tribal other. This tribal other is now the peer group or decentralized fashionable signifier which rises and falls due to the work of promotional companies, media, celebrity endorsement and counter-culture icons. The scar now encodes the power of the perpetrator onto the individual’s body. The perpetrator is not the person who performs the inking or piercing, but tribal body which recognizes and authorizes the inscription. The inscription has the effect of reinforcing the authority of the perpetrator. Thus, a reciprocal formation of alliances can endure independently of fluctuations in desire, the body becomes inscribed into the social body, the currency of which is a form of recognition which can dictate your social status.

The Maori, who are  native to New Zealand, were hunted for their heads back in the era of Captain Cook and the European colonists. A tattooed head was a valuable artifact to be traded. Eventually, out of fear of death, they stopped tattooing. Their tattoo’s cover the face and body, representing the social status and lineage in the tribe. Only into the 20th century did the Maori start to tattoo themselves again. Publically, it is still a TaMoko1problem to exhibit these tattoo’s, thus exacerbating unemployment and racism. On one documentary I saw long ago and do not remember the title, when asked ‘what does tattooing mean to you?’ one Maori male replied ‘It means I can’t get a job’. To be inscribed, signed by the tribe, is to become recoded into the desire of the tribe, against economic territorializing forces.

Although this example concerns tattoos, the logic still applies for other personal aesthetic rituals. The maintenance of hair is one such mode of encoding. The problem comes from over thinking, what I see, as a double-bind: the necessity of getting a haircut, yet recognising them as a form of social inscription that will mark me in one way or another towards a social group or interest. For D&G, capitalism’s free flowing signs, circulate and associate violently with anything that can be commodified. To inscribe oneself into a regime of signs linked to capitalist modes of production (which includes the private Oedipal family as the key site of social production) is to reproduce the conscious oppressive territoriality of capitalist desire. It is thus not a duty to be marked in any way, but only to be marked, coded into a regime of signs, that will penetrate into a nomadological desire.  The nomad occupies the smooth space of the social unconscious. An imperceptible rhizomatic movement, deterritorialized and exterior to any representation: it cannot be used to replicate capitalist control mechanisms.

That’s a lot to be thinking about before one gets a haircut. Ultimately, as  Zizek would say, the choice of haircuts if a false choice which takes focus off other non-choices. The more I think about the haircut, the more of a victim I am to the false choice of ‘which haircut?’: a mode of desire framed by the liberal democratic belief that I, as a ‘responsible’, ‘independent’, ‘adult’, homo economicus, have to decide (as those around me will identify me by my lack of decision as much as any actual decision).

Notes from ‘Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation’ by Gilles Deleuze

October 19, 2009

DavisDeleuzebook500These are my reading notes from this excellent book. I would recommend reading the book while looking at each picture he expands upon   HERE This book works not only as a piece of art commentary but as a practical and highly readable introduction to Deleuze’s anti-representational philosophy.

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