For a few months forget the writing: pause from the aims of oblivion and the couched recollections. Let the suspect devices interpolate the mnemonic devices and do each other in: a forgottenness worth your salt will surround you. Different zones of recall then sought, work dedicated solely to music: that form of non-committal joy enraptured of both memory and forgetting, and able to turn against either on a dime.
Motivation to work on writing and on music, alternating day in day out: forgotten. As a result, and a desired one, at that, few moments from August and September are remembered: her surgery and the lead-up to it, the clean cavernous hallways and sanatorium staircases of the Szpital Uniwersytecki, the marks of a year-long absence from your family’s land. Forget the muzzled dogs and busted fingers: leave the trappings of summer behind.
Writing itself becomes recollection, no longer act: not “remember to write” but “remember writing?” Music pulling down text to a dusty corner, burying it underneath clap decay, grain spray, resonators: encouraging it to be recalled and no more than that. This is a lethatechnique in action: outlined as potential in text, then turned on text itself. A need to narrate, to set yourself against certain worlds and slide off their reflections: forgotten. The externalization of memory as text and the pursuit of some bastardized written legacy: forgotten.
Confrontations defused, representations unactualized, provocations skirted around: a certain emptiness attained, a viable forgetting through musical work? What other practices empty you so: which are the most valuable forms to dial in on, to envelop and become enveloped in? The work of writing versus that of music: the more ineffable, the less substantive? Do texts only allude to the abyss: which music makes moves to fill?
As you forget the writing: recall the unscripted daily modes. What it is like to just read and not (at least attempt to) write: more relaxation, or more fright? That certain emptiness makes itself felt if not seen, seen if (surely) not heard: a lack of will to search for hidden meanings, make connections, narrate the everyday, or find better ways of describing such pursuits. The work of the ears provides a daily dose of forgetting: a different view on positivity and dread, a subtle grey pulse dividing time devoted to music and all other time. Such severance is more diffused with writing: shaded as it is over note-taking, memory markings, reading infusions, daydream contributions, hypnagogic images stored, and the actual business of sitting down to whatever work. With music there is a consistent spectrum, jumping here and there: 0-40 HZ a range of unheard fear, 200-500 HZ a vicious play of competing frequencies, and 900-1800 HZ a wealth of intolerable effort.
When there is no written production, no decentering of the bile around which you orbit: filter anxiety unspoken through choices of tone and decay. Wherefore despair as more than buzzword and empty talisman: evaporated, dismantled, sublimated? What matter, on come the headphones: adjust the feedback on that delay, EQ that synth better. And if you gave up writing altogether and worked only on music: why not make the forgetting complete?
The more forgetting afforded in the music then and there: the less here and now in the everyday. Attention to the mundane heightened through narration, (un)necessary fictions, and the registering of intrigue for future use: weakened, dissolved. Little overcomes your preoccupation: the inadvertent recall of the sonic tasks at hand. You are not manifested in language: you are awash in sounds to be processed and distorted.
The writing can be done anywhere and can record any one thing: but the musical work is spatially reined in and far less explicitly accommodating. Each sound is to be pored over: far more repeatedly than the focus spent on language somehow deemed texturally comparable. The more concentration the music requires, the more fortuitous the forgetting it engenders: music advances the ars oblivionis.
So you come back daily to the instrument, tools, and software: you sit at the drums, then you sit at the computer. The portability of your kit exists not yet as need or desire: this is a stationary, solitary, nicely lit turn to copper alloy and wood, headphone and screen. Noise and silence reveal themselves as flashes of intrigue: they are then concealed beneath your aural fatigue once more.
The days are monitored not for time to revise a tiring lexicon after your workaday technical doldrums or during your weekend aging fizzle: but for how quickly you can settle into manipulating sound. The music is never as portable as the daily demands of text: the days are thus accounted by an aural localization. Once there, can you squeeze in 20 minutes to work out those dotted quarter-note delay parameters before cooking dinner: what about 10 minutes for messing with the hats?
Time measured in music and not in text: a new assessment of technê. Let the synth drone: read this passage from Krasznahorkai’s “The Acropolis in Sunglasses” again:
One can only arrive at the experience of the transcendental – if it is reached at all – when one is oneself in a position of un-knowing, that is, of humility; namely, while remaining in the world of technê he or she begins to venerate a certain kind of experience, acquires it, makes it one’s own, realize it, sustains it, repeats it – without burdening its sense, its essence with its own great questions.
When the written word becomes a mnemonic curse: can music as technê deliver the forgottenness you crave? Can you forget the time outside the signature and loop: as the drum pushes beyond heartbeat, piano vamps toward infinite dexterity, and the low-end throttles your ears to sleep? The interminable mutation of peace through language: pushed to the side of your floor-tom and gigantic ride cymbal angled just right. The puzzling need to read and write only fiction: drowned in a battery of 909 rim shots. The farce of self-narration: brought up mindfully on yet another screen. But this interface promises a musical versatility you had never before fully comprehended: sounds pushed towards love and death.
The musical work satiates: though there are certain elements, non-verbalized and non-textualized, that it can neither illuminate nor touch. Itches that cannot be sonically scratched: does writing leave you less joyous or able to identify an endpoint, though more capable of appreciating a long-term vision? Is writing not still the continual project, the real work that brings you closer to a goal, even if that goal has not yet been identified: but does your writing towards that goal not eventually write you away from it?
Work upon the music could be considered a dalliance: a diversion from that ongoing project of written instability. The finite details of songs are recognizable: and you have always been grateful to partake. You have sensed the futurism: and you look to squash the nostalgic play of signs under a bed of noise. But the musical goals may have felt too short-term: mile-markers in the longer journey dictated by the writing.
Until now: when you can finally work on music by yourself, dependent upon no one. Being behind the drums necessitated almost always collaboration up front: guitarists, singers, those imperative to the frameworks of collective memory which a drum kit anchors. Now you can accelerate beyond such dependencies: and forget the rock & roll.
Forget the margins of your past in music: self-taught on the drums, early bashing on pillows to learn, a teenage search for a used kit in the newspaper classifieds. The Tama Royalstar kit bought for you by your father from a middle-aged rocker with a mullet: the drums you still have. All the punk, hardcore, noise, various strains of rock sweated out in numerous bands: the music that shaped your approach to the instrument, and more than that, some kind of ethos of energy. Thus you maintained a negative stance towards electronic/dance/machine music from the get-go: memories targeting such genres enforced by conformism, a conceptual closing off, a lack of comprehension…the old deliberations of a young rockist. Someone tells you 15 years ago you would be regularly listening to tech-house and experimenting with making it: you would have never stopped laughing (and/or throwing up).
The physical memory of playing drums extends deep: you can read these recollections as totalities of chops, energy, collaboration, process. But the apparent totals were only fractions: you know of the dancing, common BPM ranges, vintage synth fetishes, and knob-twiddling as much as you know of jumping into your drum kit, standing with arms folded in the back, putting dents in your snare head, and playing with a nicked knuckle bleeding all over your hi-hats. The physical memory is shaky, and closer to forgetting than any solid mnemonic substance you can put your hands on: so ingrained in your visceral attack on the kit, so imperative to your musical approach overall, it can barely be identified. But you have not played drums in a working band for close to a year now: you do not foresee a new collaborative formation starting anytime soon.
And now, a Tony Conrad drone on repeat sounds more appealing than listening to the Arcade Fire’s new album: such earnestness, so much demand still for guitars and vocals in music, such exhaustion. You have listened to enough of those songs, been in enough of those bands, been to enough of those shows: how many times did you see Thoughts of Ionesco, Braid, and Hot Water Music back in the day, at least 10 times each? This is no “rock is dead” angle: it is just time for you to forget it for a while.
Becoming a drummer who forgets: what you can and cannot play, your lack of training then and now (insert drummer joke here). Forget the genre delineations, but do not forgo remembering your bands: The Anchor Baby, Last Chance for a Slow Dance, Missing Dog Head, Rockefeller, Jaunx Remover, Motel Blonde, Shuffle Drive, The Aborted, Martin/Luther, Tushie Studies, Bumpy Knuckas, Sharks & Scissors, Hobo Codes, Laughter/Forgetting, all the other constructions never named. Especially that band in Pittsburgh whose name has long escaped you, practicing with them 3.5 times to open up for Mike Watt at some burly bar in Morgantown, West Virginia: driving down in your station wagon with B and the Squirrel Hill Café waitress you had nicknamed Hot Cup of Soup, B loaded on Colt 45 picking a fight with some hessian over his girlfriend’s horrible art on the wall, getting kicked out of the bar after playing without even getting gas money.
Substantial recollection now housed in cassette tapes: your Zaraz Zaraz dictaphone project. Field recordings begun in Dębica: old men crushing beer cans on ul. Targowa, pedestrian traffic in Sędziszów Małopolski, Pavement playing in the background as you run through some journal notes, accordion at Dózsa György út. Source material, new mnemonic metals to be manipulated: the tapes date from 2005 but they remain new, unprecedented in your experience, still becoming.
Lethatechne: the start of this new practice of forgetting. The work on the music is a lethatechnique in and of itself: a purging of personal history, and an entrance to new zones of recollection.
While developing this lethatechnique through music, you have been considering one question these past few months (while forgetting to address several others): is music the higher form, the highest, in fact? The mystery of its production and reception: is this truly a realm beyond language that can only be touched upon clumsily? But this theme of ineffability has been addressed ad nauseum: so why spend time trying to describe music if you can just play it? It does seem that you should still read Doctor Faustus: not to mention The Rest Is Noise, Everybody Loves Our Town (An Oral History of Grunge), Jean-Luc Nancy’s Listening, Sonic Warfare (Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear), more John Cage, Noise Music. Why none of these yet: and what else must you read on listening?
“Without music, life would be a mistake,” yes: and you think of your friend J who recently declared he had basically stopped listening to music altogether. And then you come across this passage by Walter Pater:
All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music. For while in all other kinds of art it is possible to distinguish the matter from the form, and the understanding can always make this distinction, yet it is the constant effort of art to obliterate it. That the mere matter of a poem, for instance, its subject, namely, its given incidents or situation — that the mere matter of a picture, the actual circumstances of an event, the actual topography of a landscape — should be nothing without the form, the spirit, of the handling, that this form, this mode of handling, should become an end in itself, should penetrate every part of the matter: this is what all art constantly strives after, and achieves in different degrees.
Is this true: or are you forced to recall too much to even begin to answer? Addressing representation and abstraction, form and content, illusion and truth: the curse begins again its lexical loop. Why remember, when you can just turn back to the music itself, the technê, your Lethatechne: the sense and essence of which does not beg to be burdened with its own great questions?
Forget it: back to the kit.