Tag Archives: Technê

THE TRUE SOURCE OF THE COLOSSAL PASSIVITY?

I have been thinking about this passage from Langdon Winner’s Autonomous Technology all week after coming across it on The Frailest Thing:

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?

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RETRACED ROUTES II – VETERANS BRIDGE, PITTSBURGH

Each man’s destiny is personal only in so far as it may resemble what is already in his memory.

– Eduardo Mallea

In Akron the Hound counter rep says the bus is on time as far as he knows, yes. Neck tattoo with Cleveland snapback stares at you while talking on the pay phone, busted nose with slicked hair tells dusty XXL coat he just got out of prison, Kangol hat hands over $5 for a stack of DVD-Rs, gold tooth asks you for a dime, and tweeker sweatpants wanders with a Taco Bell bag. Sleep-eyed student is dropped off by his buddy and eats a burger while waiting for his bus to DC.

The Hound is 15 minutes late and the driver with fluorescent green vest’s name is Janek, says he’ll only warn anyone once whose music is bleeding out of their headphones or who starts cussing or getting loud on the phone, he wishes everyone a good ride and jokes he likes Pittsburgh but he loves Cleveland so he’s glad to be moving so he can get back there tonight, tells earing’ed driver-in-training in the front seat he’s from Slovakia originally and his son is a cop, Greyhound called him at midnight to take this route, he’s been working seven or eight days straight.

Across the aisle two ladies share a can of Vienna sausages and say they’re heading home to North Carolina and are they on the right bus? 76 to Youngstown, cornfields, snow melting, oddly warm and bright. Ham with Muenster cheese and mustard, necessary Hound fare, like when Mark when was leaving out of Cleveland and you dropped him off with a cheese sandwich your mother had made him, he described for years after how he slowly savored the texture on his way to Binghamton. But at this point, anytime you take a sandwich out of your bag, especially when it is thin and wrapped in foil, you feel like a Pole on a slow train from Kraków to Rzeszów.

Pull down into Youngstown to the station right across the street from Mahoning County Jail, no break cause you are running late but a few get off to smoke and Blackhawks cap comes back in talking about how the Hound from Detroit to Akron had no heat so this is great. Finish William Vollmann’s essay on his FBI file and being mistaken for the Unabomber, get on the turnpike you used to drive while listening to that Aphex Twin cover of Seefeel on repeat, follow the hills peripherally.

Soon enough you’re barreling into the Burgh cross the Veterans Bridge over that high brown Allegheny, all those hills and rivers and yellow bridges (your favorite the 10th Street), always construction and detours, all that brown and grey and evergreen, less coal and steel or slag than those Rust Belt connotations glimpsed through the truss of the Hot Metal Bridge, too much sun on brick and so much rain on Midwestern grime, a city with weight yet never without its smog comfort and iron-bound charm. The station is a few blocks away from where you used to work, pushing papers while listening to Howard Stern and Rye Coalition, where you never got up the nerve to ask out the girl with the huge burn scar on her face, where you first bought an issue of Artforum on your lunch break.

2Transcription of desire, a static forgottenness, or the movement of misremembering? The retraced route is forgotten and only then remembered so it can be forgotten again. Current memories of a trip to Pittsburgh as the current transcription, then. Decaying lattice of memories encountered, filtered, and reformulated during the route, next. Recollection once removed of primary memories recorded during the route, remembered now through revision after a longer period of forgetting, then transcribed. Secondarily removed memories on top of those remembered now of those sparked while there, of neighborhoods and persons only touched upon during the quick cruise and few jokes of the initial movement, finally. All that is and was forgotten between then and now, what was not recorded but somehow registered and then forgotten and not remembered until a point in the future (perhaps a further revision than this), as in, only what has been forgotten can be remembered, as in, only that beyond finality is unforgotten.

You are retracing the route of a visit to a city where you had once lived to spend time with the friend with whom you had once lived, after all. The city has become the friend, but whatever clarity of memory it admitted was a momentary thaw before further calcification. The city-as-friend and friend-as-city hides now more than during the visit but less than when you had resided there with so much unforgotten. The city is not of your youth but of a more trying age and so there it remains, all the more likely to provoke and prod. As the mnemonics self-defeated, the movement of the route was pulled towards a more collaborative forgetting. The trip, route, movement, cruise: the first level of memory and further establishments of forgetting – all of this occurred well over a month ago.

BA is nowhere to be seen when you get off the bus so you wait on the corner for him to pull up in a dirty black Nissan and shyly wave, you hop in and immediately have to make three u-turns to get towards the correct on-ramp, across the river’s the Warhol Museum where you saw Nobukazu Takemura with John Herndon on drums and you’d imitate Jean-Paul Belmondo in the basement photo-booth when you could help not looking too depressed, and soon you’re in Oakland, there’s Joe Mama’s, ever-corny, why did you go there so often, so many Friday evenings, BA with his Rock Hudson sweater, spinach-artichoke routine, you tried to become regulars as if that was possible at a place like that, one Monday even both calling off work to head down and buy used Shostakovich vinyl nearby and then consider Joe Mama’s for a martini lunch, but that seemed ridiculous so you got falafel instead.

Park on Filmore and change into your houndstooth jacket cause it’s so warm out, walk down to Caliban Book Shop to be confronted with those same shelves of Evergreen Review and old black-and-white New Directions, Beckett, Ginsberg, Corso, Genet, BA puts one knee on the floor classically to examine HD’s Tribute to Freud, you find The Polish Peasant in Europe and America and tell BA you’re going to read passages of it aloud to your father when you get home, you purchase the study after asking about the price as it’s scribbled inside illegibly and with tax it comes to $8.02, you hand over a tenner and say you have no pennies, the owner still gives you a pile of change because it’s not like he has a take-a-penny-leave-a-penny going and you remember him always seeming rather unfriendly, which you mention later to BA and he says well he just seems depressed, and anyway BA had just been in there the day before cause he goes in there every week. You walk past where a video store used to be, you had rented Agnes Varda’s The Gleaners and I upon first moving to the city, continue to a coffee shop where they have a Jolly Rancher pop selection, seems a rather shocking product but here you are, back in America, order a chai tea and immediately regret it cause there is so much milk but end up putting all the change from Caliban’s in the tip jar anyway right when goatee eyebrow-ring turns around, a real George Costanza situation, one bad decision right after the other. BA drinks his coffee black and you talk about his father who is nearing retirement but what will he do with his time, he used to drive for work so much, all over TX and OK and AR, so maybe he’ll just have to keep cruising round Dallas/Ft. Worth while listening to the smooth jazz stations with names like The Wave and Breeze he likes, you know all about that driving from Pittsburgh to Dallas with BA and listening to those stations heading towards Memphis in tribute to his father, who also loves the “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” drum solo, just like your father does.

Back in the car through Shadyside, you both used to work at the crepe shop on Filbert, crepes with soytang or whipped cream and overpriced Belgian mineral water and Smog droning on the stereo while in between customers you worked on scenes for the “lucky Situationist” who gets choked with a handful of clementines in a street fight, there is a dance scene modeled on Band of Outsiders and a nod to the Nim game in Last Year at Marienbad, you filmed it all between Filbert and the apartment on South Atlantic and your mother still watches it to see your starring role. Continue on South Aiken Avenue, down which you walked one gloomy Sunday afternoon in the snow for lack of anything better to do and ran into absolutely nothing of interest, a failed walk if there is such a thing, no less a nearly failed memory. Then up South Atlantic past the house where you lived on the top floor, Julio that slob of a landlord tried to cheat you of your deposit after you’d moved out, looks pretty decrepit now but while living there you called it The Palace, your downstairs neighbor clambered up that fire escape to bang on your window and tell you to keep it down during a New Year’s Eve party with D and J and Masako as well as BA’s girlfriend of the time known as “PhD” and her brother, woke up next morn to a punched-in clock, blood on the walls, a few holes in the drywall and doors ripped off their hinges, wine-soaked books (your Sensation YBA’s book with great purple stains), D had to come back twice to do repairs. Then two lefts past the corner store that used to be a 7-11 and somehow had a legal bar in the back with plastic and plywood tables, local yinzers chugging Yuengling, and then the beat back of the house down Asterisk Way where the two old ladies from the ground floor would put out a kiddie pool in the summer for splashing around and Shakes would come around, old and wiry with stubble, thick glasses, athletic shorts, a booming voice, he’d whoop it up with the ladies but couldn’t swim, and who else lived there, a long-hair with a huge metal and hardcore record collection, and a hillbilly who always wanted to sell you Vicodin and whose son stole his grandma’s car and was peeling around back early one morning kicking up mud, later that day he got arrested.

Leave Bloomfield and “Welcome to Friendship” up Stratford Ave. to the other place, The Library, ground floor, smoking drugstore corn cob pipes while watching Through a Glass Darkly, reading Studs Terkel’s Working in the bathtub, listening to “In the Air Tonight” on repeat, being asked endless questions on the porch by Alik from Georgia, you ask BA about him and he says Alik lives in North Carolina where he either owns or works in a textile factory, which are both astonishing propositions. As you enter into rush hour traffic along Penn Ave. the memories come more quickly, Jasmine, Jesse, Janelle, David, Terry, Rick, Hot Cup of Soup and her waitress friend with dyed-red hair from The Squirrel Hill Cafe, that cellist, Sun Ra’s Space Is the Place, “Paperback Writer.” BA says he doesn’t like to encounter people he knew from back then too much, like Josh, he came up in your phone conversation a few days prior after BA’d run into him in front of Spice Island and it was awkward, the guy hadn’t aged even though he might be almost 40 now, he used to deliver flowers, you ask if he still dresses like he’s in The Strokes. You head to Giant Eagle to buy beer, the Celebration Ale on BA’s tip and some classic Christmas Ale and you want chips and salsa too, spend a while goofing on these difficult choices, decide to go with the Tostito’s “cantina-style” all around and say whew a lot because it all sounds so festive and tasty, debate buying queso but decide against it as  you’re supposed to have a very rich pasta dish for dinner or something, then head to a state liquor store where you check the vodka selection even though you have a gift bottle of Śliwowica in the trunk and they have nothing interesting anyway, no good Polish vods and you know American Żubrówka is a poor heavy-chemical substitute. BA wants to buy some Scotch for E, he mentions Dewar’s which brings you back to the second-floor of the Zephyr in Kent, a double Dewar’s kept the couple repetitions of “Sister Ray” you’d put on the jukebox tolerable but it’s still a nauseous recall, so BA gets a bottle of Woodford Reserve on your encouragement which no one ends up touching that night, he later puts it on his liquor cabinet next to a bottle of Pimm’s and when you ask why he has Pimm’s he says he doesn’t know. While paying you wonder why BA doesn’t get carded, and come to think of it you didn’t got carded either, how exactly are you both showing your age?

3You agree with BA about picking up more beer and head back to D’s Sixpax and Dogz where he parks in an odd though legal spot, you jaywalk confusedly but this place is supposed to be good, they do vegan dogs too, which is always the first thing you remember about Toronto, the street vendors selling vegan hotdogs, and you confirm with others at Thai Gourmet a couple days later that that is what you mention when the city of Toronto comes up, so you duck back to the “beer cave” and pick out a few choice bottles, none of which you sample that night, and then out past the Regent Square Cinema where you saw Le Cercle Rouge and watched Lee Ranaldo and Text of Light play to the films of Stan Brakhage, which were amazing on the big screen but the drummer played his snare upside down and picked at the snares like he was deboning a fish, you’re still not sure of your feelings on his playing, and you associate that area of the Burgh more with the first song off The New Year’s first album, a vague sense of disappointment aligned so well through music with certain neighborhoods of the city.

Finally to BA’s place, which looks like a lodge of some sort from the outside and inside it is all wood and crown molding and beams and pictures of Proust, Stendhal, birds, Thoreau maybe, Napoleon’s death mask, steamships, books on Baldessari and cave art and The Prado, copies of War and War and A Minor Apocalypse bought on your tip, plenty of old New Directions and Evergreen Review from Caliban’s in the shelves, some Ionesco, busts of Beethoven and Lincoln, photos of you and D from a previous visit when BA lived on Liberty Ave. back in Bloomfield, a tray of old bottles of Diptyque interior scents (figuier and musc particularly resonant). You meet BA’s girlfriend E formally before settling in to drinking at the dining room table, break open the cantina with whispered exclamations of whew while shaking your heads a lot and then you present the Śliwowica, which is taken slowly with expressions of burn while you pet the cats whose names escape you. BA has an old camel-hair jacket that doesn’t quite fit him and he wants to pass it on to you, it’s a little tight and short in the sleeves but it’ll work and be your first jacket of that kind, you keep it on, staying careful not to spill any of the cantina salsa on it. There is a tour of the tiny kitchen with its three varieties of coffee-making devices and the cheese paper BA bought for E as a “gift” because she claimed he wrapped cheese improperly, and you all look out the front windows at the Episcopalian church next door, which they describe as basically chill with a nice red door, and in another two hours BA gives you the tour upstairs, there is an old Penguin paperback of Against Nature on his night table, and you sit in his Eames chair in his office and gaze up at shelves of ontology and violence and rhetoric, you would joke the next morning about the difficulty of being an ontological subject which you both knew was misguided and lame, you talk about Elull and techné and how the cats are not allowed in his office soon realizing it’s getting late and no one has mentioned cooking or dinner yet, which is to be a delicious pasta with three kinds of cheese and a salad with radicchio, you say you can really taste how well the cheese had been wrapped recently, and you go for seconds realizing it all could wind up a brick in your stomach and wake you up at night like when you stupidly ate the massive grilled cheese-pierogi-kraut Parmageddon sandwich at Melt with J and D in Lakewood and woke up on J’s west-side couch with a horrible immoveable gut anchor sinking you into sweat and headache at 3am, that was the same day J took you to see a professional wrestling match down by the Cuyahoga, but after dinner E offers you a “sweet bite” in the form of a caramel, which she pronounces in a manner you suppose may be non-Ohioan with three syllables, and after a while you even dip back into the cantina, why not. Finally it is time for bed so you all go upstairs to spend ten minutes using force to pull out a mattress stuffed into the corner of BA’s closet, socked feet slipping on the carpet and everyone tipping over like a Kramer outtake, finally it is out and under the chalkboard so you move the piles of books on the table over and turn on the lamp, read a little Open City and remain unmoved by it, then you go to sleep.

There are three options for making coffee in the morning – a regular coffee machine (B.A.’s preference), the Keurig (E’s preference), a French press – and you choose the French press as you suppose it the easiest, quickest, and quietest and it remains your preferred method. Rifle about for some bread to make toast and eat a banana, your regular workaday breakfast in Kraków, and soon BA is up figuring out which device to use for his coffee, he makes more white toast and offers you some, you’re still hungry so you accept but then start talking about how good the pasta the previous night was, how cheesy and thick, so you pull it out of the fridge and sample it cold while both figuring although it’s excellent cold you might as well heat it up for breakfast, so BA gets it sizzlin’ and then laughs to use the toast, that earlier breakfast concept, to soak up the oil after the pasta is all hot and gooey and you do the same, whipping the oily bread into the overflowing rubbish can before settling at the dining room table to once again eat pasta but this time silently. When done you sit back with an actual gut-brick feeling and not just the memory thereof, quickly ill to talk about how ill you feel, and there is a lot of quiet besides a couple exasperated whews until you retire to the back porch so BA can have a square and you sit there watching the snow melt.

1After talking about how you may barf you manage to stretch and take a shower in the bathroom that reminds you of your grandparents’ and in turn the bathroom from the mother-son conversation scene in Franny and Zooey, and when you come out E is up but you still have time before you are to leave so you go on a walk with BA around one of those dour Pittsburgh residential neighborhoods with large chimneyed brick houses and there’s rain in the air as you amble up the hill talking about teaching business communication and what that means for rhetoric studies (nothing good), then cut to the left and venture under the busway while you describe how he should really read Lars Iyer’s trilogy soon. You take a couple photos before realizing you should return to the lodge so they can pack for their Christmas trip to visit E’s family and you are to wait, so you settle down with Open City and remain unmoved, then decide on a quick pre-lunch nap as a result of all the breakfast pasta and walking.

When they are ready to go it is raining, suitable Rust Belt conditions for an exit, and you get into the backseat next to the two cat-carriers, BA puts on the Schubert piano works that you will listen to for the entire two-and-a-half hour car trip to Ohio, Schubert played at low volume with a sheen of driving, rain, and chatter over top. An hour and a half later you stop at the Mahoning Valley service plaza for a bite and you say you could really go for a slice or two of Sbarro’s cause that’s ideal rest stop fare but unfortunately there is only Panera and Dairy Queen, BA jokes about getting the DQ fried shrimp basket, which seems an unfortunate idea anytime and especially after the three-cheese pasta breakfast, so you go to Panera and order some “artisanal” smoked turkey panini thing which is overpriced and unsatisfying and you sit in the food court zone watching a bleak, Midwestern Friday afternoon scene of rain and passing cars on the highway, catch sight of a chubby woman at the DQ counter with her sweatpants falling below her rear-end and that is such an awful sight you decide not to look over at DQ again, perhaps ever, and after returning to the car you doze to the Schubert and rain while you are driven home. In the driveway you say goodbye rather quickly though you probably should have encouraged them to come in and say hi but you didn’t and they wanted to get going anyway so they leave. Your mother lets you in so you chat with her for a few minutes, promising to tell her and your father all the details of the trip over dinner, eat a few Christmas cookies, and retire upstairs to watch the rain turn into snow.

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LETHATECHNE, OR, FORGET THE ROCK & ROLL

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.

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