- Oslo, 1971
- Kraków, 2005
- Rotterdam, 2016
Tear out of school and take the solid orange Chuo line to Kichijōji. Shin, Emi, Chris, Shungo, Andrew, Brett, they nickname you “New Kid” and say you look like the bassist from Green Day. Skate down to the studio, just a few minutes from the station exit. Before heading up to hang out and take a turn behind the kit for 20 minutes, stop by a record store to browse the newest Fat Wreck Chords and Caustic Resin CDs in between Japanese grindcore 7”s. Was this the record store called Warszawa? Or was Warszawa in Shimokitazawa? Wherever it was, of one thing your memory is sure: you all pronounce the name “Wor-ti-zow-wa.” Then on to the teenage pop-punk jam with Dan and Adam moshing in the corner. The studio practice rooms all have huge racked drums with tons of cymbals and toms, you are just learning to play and don’t even know how to keep the kick in time. When you tell Shungo maybe you’ll just not use the kick at all, he says calmly, “you should try to learn, cause it’d sound better.” Amps crunch and squeal, covers of Propagandhi, NOFX, and Lagwagon for a couple hours. The drumming continues round your head well after you sit down to a quick pork tonkatsu and then go skating in Shinjuku.
One recording of recent drums + resonators + delay = extension of drum memory to recent Ohio past.
One drum rack constructed out of snippets from recording above + random MIDI pattern generator = memory of learning to play the basic teenage punk beat.
One additional drum kit + random MIDI pattern generator = half-memories of all those years learning to play drums.
Another additional drum kit + random MIDI pattern generator + resonator = half-memories of Tokyo.
West down the Lincoln Highway, then hit 71 South: no Ohio State football home game this weekend, so a smooth ride and quick. Haven’t taken this route since 2002: when Bean’s grandfather landed his single-engine prop in Wooster to pick him up and took you, Marco, and Mark Outlaw along to fly slow and steady down to Columbus. After some doughnuts and coffee, Bean drove you all back in his 1986 Dodge station-wagon with wood paneling and an America sticker on the back window.
From Wooster to Columbus is a straight route of memory: back and forth to see shows at the Legion of Doom and the Fire Escape (Hot Water Music, Golden, Inept, Mid Carson July); to open up for Puritan and some other band (was it Franklin, out of Philly?) at the Legion when you and J were in Rockefeller; to practice with the Anchor Baby and go record shopping at Used Kids; to watch everything at More than Music Fest (Charles Bronson, Four Hundred Years, the Locust); to visit Damien, Jimmy, and Jerome. A route best soundtracked by Modest Mouse: “Ohio” going south, “Dramamine” coming back north.
This time it’s the Startup podcast for most of the way down: then a quick nap underneath a few pages of Unamerica. Welcome to Delaware – but Ohio, Ohio. Park in the driveway till J pulls in with suit and briefcase: load the gear in and set up, Fritz barking and a good presence. Jam a few riffs for 20 minutes to gauge the levels and the neighborhood shake: good, good, but you shouldn’t start before 10 AM Saturday.
Take off for a “Macedonian Burger,” onion rings, and a Hoppin’ Frog at Son of Thurman: after a Trappistes Rochefort right next door. Catching up: Poland, Ohio, Kraków, North Canton, Barbertucky, Akron rowdiness, jobs, the crew. Back to J’s to watch the Cavs beat the Celtics: 122-121.
Next morning coffee, eggs, bacon, jalapeno cream cheese on a bagel: adjust the drum levels, plug everything in. A quick convo after a set of guesses: set the mics up and hope for the best. Put on your Zildjian drumming gloves: first time to feel that need, but your hands are uncalloused after a year of virtual no-playing, the blisters imminent. Start jamming the riffs, adjust your parts and fills, keep it big: your cymbals up high, visions of Mario Rubalcaba playing in Earthless. Plenty of back and forth on song structure, take down the notes: let’s switch part C with A, and B should go for eight not just four, and what about doing the “Fugazi part” again at the end? You think about starting the song with some noise/free-jazz drumming at the beginning, as you had in a never-recorded Hobo Codes song (“Guns and Caviar”): then launching into the heavy. Cast that idea aside to pare the drumming down and get it done: written and recorded in about three hours.
Break for a snack: dates and water, cheese and crackers. You rest in that non-verbal mode that comes on like a bright cloud after drumming: exhausted and full of adrenaline. All will, commentary, theorizing: subsumed to the percussive. All discursive potential: drowned by focus behind the kit. Palms already getting torn up, blisters on the rise: gloves getting shredded. So you keep washing your hands with the pumpkin spice soap J’s wife has in the downstairs bathroom: smells like America, like Ohio, a sweet rural peace. You will go for two more in the remaining hours: a cover of Sebadoh and a Midwestern-gothic slow one. It’s Saturday afternoon by now and the suburbs of Delaware are full of sun: you and your friend of twenty years are bashing out the doom jams in his basement.
For recording a short sound to be set on repeat with the new Soundcloud “repeat playing track” feature, start with a slightly altered melody from another song you are working on, a song you almost completely dismantled and squashed Thursday night before receiving notice of this Disquiet Junto project.
That night, you fed the melody through a certain favored synth which you ultimately decided not to use, as the tone was too different, darker. But for a “groove lock,” looping the melody on this synth was the first thing that came to mind.
Add some effects to bring out the hazier edges, set up Ableton’s Granulator for the bass tone. Finally, add the sample from a video in the Tate Modern recorded on your phone in Autumn 2013, something about a manuscript (or is he saying “that worries me”?), seemingly lost, and an inability to talk about it.
With the sample and the earlier dismissal of the synth, forgetting recurs as a theme. Forgetting: locked and repeated. And as the piece loops, do you go deeper into its layers (as long as you remember to pay attention), or do you forget it to the background of your room? Is the manuscript forever lost?
Track made for the 153rd Disquiet Junto project — “Record a short sound intended to be set on repeat” — more information can be found at:
More on the Disquiet Junto at:
Join the Disquiet Junto at:
You roll a 4 on random.org: the sound of a solar energy generator in the year 2044.
You walk into the kitchen to the window that gets the most sunlight: she is making lunch and remarks that there is a lot of sun today. Open the door to the pantry: in the corner is the generator’s heliosonic space. It is a small machine but through its tubes and flux capacitors flow all of your necessary stellar bursts. Kneel down to read the current levels: the generator’s tones are vigorous today. The clouds roll in and out, the thick street trees waver: the generator flutters. The hallway light is switched on: the generator beeps again. You grab a jar of pickles off the shelf: stand listening and frozen with the desire for light. You leave the pantry and close the door: back into a vision of the only sun.
Track made for the 123rd Disquiet Junto project — “Help Gizmodo record the soundscape of the home of the future” — more information can be found at:
More on the Disquiet Junto at:
Join the Disquiet Junto at:
More on the Gizmodo Home of the Future at:
It is at this point [when the power of technology becomes evident] that a pervasive ignorance and refusal to know, irresponsibility, and blind faith characterize society’s orientation toward the technical. Here it happens that men release powerful changes into the world with cavalier disregard for consequences; that they begin to ‘use’ apparatus, technique, and organization with no attention to the ways in which these ‘tools’ unexpectedly rearrange their lives; that they willingly submit the governance of their affairs to the expertise of others. It is here also that they begin to participate without second thought in megatechnical systems far beyond their comprehension or control; that they endlessly proliferate technological forms of life that isolate people from each other and cripple rather than enrich the human potential; that they stand idly by while vast technical systems reverse the reasonable relationship between means and ends. It is here above all that modern men come to accept an overwhelmingly passive response to everything technological [….]
[…] there is a sense in which all technical activity contains an inherent tendency toward forgetfulness. Is not the point of all invention, technique, apparatus, and organization to have something and have it over with? One does not want to bother anymore with building, developing, or learning it again. One does not want to bother with its structure or the principles of its internal workings. One simply wants the technical thing to be present in its utility. The goods are to be oriented without having to understand the factory or the distribution network. Energy is to be utilized without understanding the myriad of connections that made its generation and delivery possible. Technology, then, allows us to ignore our own works. It is license to forget. In its sphere the truths of all important processes are encased, shut away, and removed from our concern. This more than anything else, I am convinced, is the true source of the colossal passivity in man’s dealings with technical means.
The passage has sparked a lot of questions for me within the context of the Lethatechnique.
Do the forgetting, forgetfulness, and forgottenness engendered through technology as framed here by Winner become ever-present dangers only because of their statuses as (suspect or undesirable) results, consequences, and secondary effects?
Can forgetting become a technique that does not rely on external tools and technology – forgetting not as result but as impetus and selective procedure, not as consequence but as generative tool itself to be wielded and extended towards a state untarnished by passivity?
Or does forgetting-as-technique veer too quickly towards extinguishing the possible good and benefits of forgetting, for in the state of technique,forgetting is forced into the realms of the rational and the efficient, the technological and the market?
If conceiving of technique positively in relation to forgetting is a major challenge, then more questions may be raised. How does the lethatechnique relate to Jacques Elull’s definition of “technique” in The Technological Society:
The term technique [la technique] as I use it does not mean machines, technology, or this or that procedure for attaining an end. In our technological society, technique is the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for a given stage of development) in every field of human activity. It’s characteristics are new; the technique of the present has no common measure with that of the past.
How does it play with more classical notions of technic and technê as craftsmanship, mechanical art, or the practical application of art?
How is it reflected back in this statement by László Krasznahorkai in “The Acropolis in Sunglasses”:
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, realizes it, sustains it, repeats it – without burdening its sense, its essence with its own great questions.
Questions upon questions with that last quote, so one more spurred on: does the lethatechnique necessitate the forgetting of technique, the forgetting of “the world of technê“?
Is it enough to advocate for the aim of the lethatechnique as positioning forgetting not as the byproduct, result, or consequence of uses of technology, but as the starting point at which uses of technology, various tools, as well as visceral and internalized practices can be considered? Forgetting-as-technique can be honed, for example, through working on music with tools such as the Ableton Live software or a drum kit that enable total engrossment. Forgetting-as-technique can be explored through the use of WordPress itself, with which you may engage a certain mode of writing that attempts to purge memories that haunt or aggravate, or with which you may investigate a similar mode of writing that appears to be driven by a need to memorialize but which actually records the balance between forgetfulness and the desire to forget, between that which cannot be remembered and that which should be processed in order to move forward – all through the interface of WordPress in which the tensions between private desire and public showmanship, data permanence and triviality bombardment, and mnemonic logorrhea and narcissistic forgetting may have free reign. Forgetting-as-technique can be supported through practices such as Tai Chi, meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing…There are innumerable examples, of course, once forgetting is established as the starting point – however difficult and problematic – for a creative act and is not just taken to be a derogatory consequence of a specific activity or engagement with technology. And once forgetting becomes the technique itself – meaning, it approaches the totality and becomes the name of the process – tools, technologies, and practices can be utilized as manifestations of that technique.
Separating forgetting as synonymous with isolation, passivity, and ignoring from a more positively willed state, useful goal, and slippery concept motivates the pursuit of understanding the lethatechnique. As this blog attempts to trace the potential promises, failures, and mistakes of such a pursuit, a passage like Winner’s only shows how many issues there are to address as regards contemporary thinking on forgetting.
When the lethatechnique positions forgetting primarily rather than secondarily, and when it blurs the lines between means and ends in parallel to those blurred between memory and forgetting, what techniques would you utilize to engage the positive starting points of forgetting?