Badiou and music

gek-opel

entered apprentice
Responding to this recent Woebot piece... http://www.woebot.com/2007/06/thoughts_on_blogging.html Woebot turns to theory and how "Stuff I picked up and read more recently, Badiou and Spinoza, (unlike the Virlio, Rorty, Deleuze, Popper, Bhaba, Gilroy and McLuhan I'd read in the past) just didn't seem to have any bearing on music."

Which is interesting given that Badiou's Art category of truth process would seem incredibly appropriate to understanding why movements rise and fall, the focus upon the event as rupture in the fabric of the situation itself, and the evils which befall them upon the way. Indeed the battle for the soul of dubstep at present seems to embody this very clearly... (does it fall to the laziness of re-presenting the situation as variously "slowed down drum and bass" or "nu-digi-dub" or does it resist and continue with its process?)

Here's where we discuss Badiou and music (and probably correct my horrendous mis-readings of him...!)
 
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Woebot

Administrator
Staff member
well i'd be pleased to know!

perhaps it's more interesting when theory addresses music in its own timeframe in some specific way, in a way that they seem to be talking about the same phenomena?
 

gek-opel

entered apprentice
I've moved to a position of being very focussed on history, on tracking currents within music with micro-precision, quite like someone in information technology might track flows, but usually with the explicit aim of trying to tease out new possibilities for the stultified present.
This is basically one application of Badiou's thought, at least in terms of the teasing out of new possibilities and the tracking of currents at least...
 

Gavin

booty bass intellectual
For instance,

The only maxim of contemporary art is not to be imperial. This also means: it does not have to be democratic, if democracy implies conformity with the imperial idea of political liberty.
This is surely a rejoinder to the Poptimist position, that identifies the value of music in its ability to be enjoyed by many (which merely conforms to consumerist ideology -- "freedom" to enjoy our choices).

Resurrecting a long-dead Big Other (poptimisim is dead isn't it? Hopefully?) probably doesn't actually stimulate discussion, but I found this one interesting, since democratic art is usually taken for granted as a good thing. Anyway, I'm trying!
 

swears

preppy-kei
But artists like, say Hirst and Koons are totally supportive towards the status quo, or apathetic of it. I don't see anything anti-imperial about contemporary art at all. Or does he mean that it should be anti-imperial?
 
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But artists like, say Hirst and Koons are totally supportive towards the status quo, or apathetic of it. I don't see anything anti-imperial about contemporary art at all. Or does he mean that it should be anti-imperial?
My understanding is that Badiou is arguing that all imperial/empire art is a non-event because it does not render visible ('a happening of the idea') that which is outside [ontologically and epistemologically] the Reality Principle ('that which Empire already recognizes as existent') of the imperial. Its not so much that for Badiou art 'should' be anti-imperial but that the imperial imperative destroys art within its ambit by commodifying it into a false and circular consumerism. So if one is serious about art, and the imperial is that which destroys it, "It is better to do nothing than to contribute to the invention of formal ways of rendering visible that which Empire already recognizes as existent." Art, for Badiou, is instead the rendering of that which is impossible within Empire.
 

Gavin

booty bass intellectual
I'm trying to think of music akin to Badiou's example of Mark Lombardi works:



Maybe Immortal Technique videos? Keeping with the conspiracy theory theme anyway.

<embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/WA_xXWSXyFI" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350">

Not just the content of the message, but also its delivery: using spliced together media footage and detourned imagery to illustrate conspiracies; repeated use of 9-11 footage to inculcate revolutionary anger, not fear and compliance.

Today art can only be made from the starting point of that which, as far as Empire is concerned, doesn't exist.
The shout of "Bush knocked down the towers," perhaps not literal, but a kind of intervention: "Would Bush knock down the towers if he could? Would the state exercise extreme violence and terror against its own population to secure power?"

And also distributing videos free via the internet: "Art is the impersonal production of a truth that is addressed to everyone."

I actually had a question: it seems that art for Badiou must be impersonal/abstract/"for everyone" -- he says this multiple times in different ways. Is this a kind of critique against the rampant individualism of the celebrity system and the niche marketing of pervasive demographication? Or am I just reading that into it? In any case, I find IT's deliberate avoidance of stardom (staying underground, not appearing in his videos) compelling. Like the Subcommandante Marcos of rap.



Here's another vid, not much rapping, but it is called "The Poverty of Philosophy" which made me chuckle.

<embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/j7Vl0peys90" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350">
 


Explicit examples of what Badiou means can emerge from the most unexpected, surprising sources, but usually, indeed, from OUTSIDE the assumed parameters of what is deemed 'an Artwork.'

The recent Steven Meisel photo-spread for Vogue Italia (September 2006), State of Emergency, featuring a glamourous fashion photo-shoot re-configured as a disturbing, eroticised "War on Terror" mise en scene, constitutes a dispassionate reformulation and subversion of the simple assumption and evasions made by the mediatised unconscious. A truthful rendering - as appearance and fantasy - of the non-existent?



" State of Emergency’ shows, once again, that it is left to high fashion to take up the role that fine art has all but abandoned. While much of fine art has succumbed to the ‘passion for the real’, high fashion remains the last redoubt of Appearance and Fantasy.

The used tampons and pickled animals of Reality Art offer, at best, tracings of the empirical. Their quaint biographism reveals nothing of the unconscious. Meisel’s elegantly-staged photographs, meanwhile, drip with an ambivalence worthy of the best Surrealist paintings. They are uncomfortable and arousing in equal measure because they reflect back to us our conflicted attitudes and unacknowledged libidinal complicities.

[ ... ]

To imagine the atrocities of September 11th and Abu Ghraib mimetised in the alternate death of Paris Hilton feels far more unacceptable, because contemporary piety has sacralised its atrocities in a way that the 60s could not ...

Part of the reason that the Abu Ghraib images were so traumatic for a deeply conflicted American culture which combines religious moralism with hyper-sexualised commerce, and which is united only by a taste for megaviolence, is that they exposed the equation between military intervention and sexual humiliation that the official culture both depends upon and must suppress.
"
 

gek-opel

entered apprentice
My understanding is that Badiou is arguing that all imperial/empire art is a non-event because it does not render visible ('a happening of the idea') that which is outside [ontologically and epistemologically] the Reality Principle ('that which Empire already recognizes as existent') of the imperial. Its not so much that for Badiou art 'should' be anti-imperial but that the imperial imperative destroys art within its ambit by commodifying it into a false and circular consumerism. So if one is serious about art, and the imperial is that which destroys it, "It is better to do nothing than to contribute to the invention of formal ways of rendering visible that which Empire already recognizes as existent." Art, for Badiou, is instead the rendering of that which is impossible within Empire.
This would be my reading too. A truth process that merely re-presents the situation as it stands is no kind of truth process at all, and as such art which fails to alter the situation (this doesn't presumably have to mean the social situation as such though) as Imperialist art surely fails isn't art at all.
 

Chris

fractured oscillations
But wouldn't one, by making art which is always a reaction to the capitalist Real, in a sense be strengthening capitalism's ubiquity by always responding to it? It reminds me of christians who spend all of their time talking about satan (giving satan in a sense more influence over their lives than their God, much like socialists who can't seem to imagining life outside of the mechanisms of capital). Take into account also that art which has the goal of simply subverting, questioning, etc the big Other of capitalism tends to be stuck on themes of provacation, shock, testing taboos, which of we know of course actually revitalizes and re-tools captialism by giving it new material.

Despite this problem, I'd still agree with the assessment of art and musical movements as being a "the focus upon the event as rupture in the fabric of the situation itself," moments of cultural vitality as the Real floods back into the (sub)cultural conciousness before capital inevitably eats it back up... I'd just like to propose the idea and I believe right, to practice and experience art and culture autonomously from capitalism (maybe not in truth, but in "spirit", in a state of mind which knows everything will be co-opted, but also that WE are here at the vital, unfolding cusp, and we have the right to bask in the energy before it is subverted, always staying one step ahead of the game), because art and culture existed before capitalism and it will be here afterwards (if the day ever comes). *feeel my Edenistic sincerity

The ultimate futility of our efforts aside, I'd say I do have a somewhat constructivist idealism in regards to art and culture, even in the discourse of it. I've come to see the discussions as having a potentially creative and conceptual funtion in itself... inspiring the artists, swapping ideas, setting a cultural tone, summoning and channeling old memes towards new ends...
 
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