Bog 5 make up

A serious shrug, everything seems untouchable and incomprehensible at this point (surely a modernist anxiety). Winkiel does a good job of not being too prescriptive in her analysis of the anthology. Locating identity, history, and perspectives on race becomes increasingly difficult (considering how many are included in the anthology). In many ways, this seems to be beneficial to the discussion of race and social identity (of course over determination is always bad). I think the anthology is struggling with its position and determination of race in modernism. For instance, “The intention of the anthology, Cunard claims, is to speak from within and to a newly visible collective (“coloured people”) who announce their presence and engagement in modernity. (522) Note: I am confused initially by the use of the term modernity. Is this use of the word equating modernity with relevance? Winkiel aptly addresses the problems of romanticism and the otherwise suspicious editorial positions in the anthology. Her reading nonetheless exacerbates the problem (it must), even when her perspective and criticism is productive.

Winkiel repeatedly questions Cunard’s romanticism but instrumentation is equally dangerous. Her assessment of the anthology places it within the scope of modernism or counter-modernism (they seem very similar). She suggests that the incomplete and failed representation of coherent (ideal) black national perspective, identity, and voice is implicit in Cunard’s anthology, which in some way represents counter-culture. Trying to distill this perspective, consider “This politics of reading is not straightforward. Rather, it is angled, asymmetrical, and refracted through black relations to the white world. (522) The anthology’s deconstruction of black identity stems from a diverse list of topics and contributors. While I am fully aware, that text enmeshed in an ideology can nonetheless be used to subvert or deconstruct the dominant narrative. What I am trying to get at is that a text Like W.E.B. Dubois’s Black America, the task of deconstructing narrative is not explicitly a modernist behavior; rather his position and clarity elicit the anxiety of modernism. Identity, power and narrative is actually diffused throughout society it not just a characteristic of literature and a text.

I do appreciate Winkiel reinterpretation of productivity (I am swerving a bit). It becomes the duty of the reader to establish a better more productive reading. “These disparate pieces build a sense of unity in difference, a transnational allegiance against racism. Moreover, its “accumulative force” of meaning depends upon its readers’ experiential encounter with it. Nowhere is this more evident in Negro than in its diverse musical scores…that demand its readers’ participation to make meaning. One needs to “play” or “hum” Negro. By “arrangement,” each article, photo, and poem contributes to a heterogeneous, fissured understanding of the black diaspora. (522) Nonetheless, It is still through traditionally productive narratives that meaning and value is established. We need productive readers, who are intelligent enough to arrive at this same critical perspective. The problem most readers should face is Cunard’s conception racial identity and politic. This is a failure to recognize privilege. Fractured social identity takes precedent as a literary concept rather than a real lived condition.

I am trying to express in mild terms my anxiety about Winkle’s evaluation of the anthology and its place in modernism. In many cases, fracturing perspectives (seeing what is absent) contributes to a more comprehensive and critical perspective. One perspective may destabilize, challenge, or reinforce another, this is good. Yet, Winkle’s assessment minimizes the problem of Cunard’s editorial stance. The work of modernism can be done aside from the anthology. Winkle’s criticism does not fully grasp the problem of the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist agenda that is lends to the anthology. The material and social reality of life is bound by capitalist ideology, there is not a place outside of it, even in writing. What trouble me is that Winkiel’s reading cannot be reconcilable by a writer like Dubois who is largely concerned with the advancement of his people, whose well being depend on material conditions of living as well and intellectual advancement. That being said, I do feel that my position is produced more from anxiety inspired from modernism rather than any actual failure in Winkiel’s criticism. Everything feels so unstable, especially counter-modernism, where do I stand?


Counter-Culture and The New Horizons of Sound (Thinking With Varése)

I want to minimize the revolutionary images, the superficial tensions that are projected onto composers like Varése and Antheil, they need not to be made into mavericks or rebels—its simply not true (entirely) or helpful when listening/understanding their music. When looking through their words, one will encounter plenty of strange and seemingly eccentric information, but plenty that is mundane and not rebellious. Consider Edgard Varése in regards to Amériques “This composition is the interpretation of the mood, a piece of pure music absolutely unrelated to the noise of modern life which some critics have read into the composition”(Ouellette, 57). So, the composer appears both unreliable and sincere in his attempts to create new music with new sound. My point in minimizing the revolutionary image is mostly for the sake of dropping pretension an unrealistic standard in which we understand art. Modernist, and men like Varése are Agents/representations of change (yes a small distinction), rather than forces of change. There is something Pseudo-democratic in the nature of Art; like language (speech) Art is largely consensual, and exists always outside of the subject. Perhaps Artist anticipates just as much as they shape cultural perceptions.

As we have mentioned in class, these composer’s and their music exist in a timeline of a musical tradition. I reject the idea of revolution and paradigm shift, at least in terms of the individual piece if music or performance—the subject is always over determined by the critic and the audience. Their ability to understand the piece of music is evidence enough, meaning that change is always anticipated by the conditions that give rise to the cultural movement or product. For Varése “To be modern is to be natural, an interpreter of the spirit of your own time. I can assure you I am not straining after the unusual”(Ouellette, 57). Varése seems to be quite aware of how unremarkable his position is, as his revolution of sound and noise in merely a manifestation of the natural development of music. He is merely accessing the technology and sounds of the world he arrived in (both literally and ontologically). It is difficult to not insert sarcasm or a sense of irony in Varése’s words because: the question of what is natural is implicated in the modernist exploration of noise. What is natural? And how is man’s perception of nature conditioned? These questions extended into the realms of noise and music. What is natural and what is man-made (unnatural); what is music and what is noise?

For this thought, the composer is the: scientist, the cook, the tinkerer and the experimenter. The ideal experiment/preparation will reveal and report a phenomenon that already exists. Science does the best to uncover constants; the only new information is the means of reaching the constancy. The crafter will always arrive at their real state of existence as well as within a system ideology. First we have, raw values of what is going to be manipulated, and then we have the history and context of how things have been used, manipulated/utilized. On the other end of the artist and their Art there is the willing recipient, and producers, Varése like his contemporaries were able to secure patrons as well venues to share their art. Sure, there are conservative and nostalgic forces at work, but these are usual at odds with change and progress.

Mathematics are not the means of exploring new frontiers, so formulas only prove, verify old models of perception. Yet one discovery anticipates the next. Consider “Art’s function is not to prove a formula or an esthetic dogma. Our academic rules were taken out of the living work of former masters. As Debussy has said, works of art make rules but rules do not make works of art. Art exists only as a medium of expression…”(M&M, 185). Varése speaks to the over determination that often occurs as well as the problems with conservative and nostalgic approach to creating art. When a fine piece of work arises, the critic and the audience must systematically establish it’s greatness, to prove a formula for success. In in reality the basis of the artist success includes an array of specific and arbitrary conditions.

How is something both new and completely anticipated (predictable)? This tension is all pointing towards the implication of a work like Amériques and other noisy pieces of music “clearly developed a new way of listening, learning not only to celebrate the noise in music, but also to appreciate the music in noise” I am a little hesitant to celebrate this notion, as we have seen from Fascist zeal and the Marxist criticism, there are clearly consequences and pretentious overtones here. How we get to the noise and how we receive the noise is all subject to highly structured cultural activities. I don’t think we need to celebrate one thing or another rather we need to rigorously explore the tension between noise and music. We still have the music of Varése and Antheil and they are still difficult to listen to. It is not so much about the new worlds of sounds but new questions and conflicts represented in sounds.

Ouellette, Fernand. Edgard Varése. New York: Orion, 1968. Print.

–Harry Brown

Impersonal and Pure Art.

Consider Modernism and its concern with new form and innovation. Regardless of modernity’s accomplishment progress and innovation is Ubiquitous throughout history; after all this is the basis of progress and development (getting from the romantic era from the classical). Perhaps old era did not conceive of innovation and originality in the same light (of course not). While old forms may have note emphasized solidarity and originality in the same respect as the modernist’s it is the basis of progress. Innovation and divergent social tastes mark the history of music, art and literature. Is purity of music is not unknown prior to the rise of modern era?

I believe that striving towards artistic purity puts stress on the possibility of purity. For example a stream of consciousness in literature is not in fact a stream of consciousness: it is a calculated representation of a stream of consciousness, which is a highly conditioned metaphor. The attempt to authentically represent social reality exposes the necessity of art to become abstracted. Earnest realism is a conceit of the romantic era, one might say that realistically representing social reality is impossible, by hiding the fact a book that is written by a person and read another, forfeits any notion of reality! I think the modernist writing that puts a great deal of stress on language and perspectives are merely the extension of realism. Rather than a portrayal of a realistic social reality the modernist is portraying a realistic piece of art, which is bound and contextualized by history. These are your “underlying conceptual or formal structures” (Butler, 3) So in a way these new forms of expression are more exhaustive in their representation, they have a depth to their originality, but a wealth of history.

Perhaps the modernist tendency to critique social reality is what led to the idealization of an abstract and pure ideal of art. For example by critiquing social reality William Faulkner ends up exposing how fragmented reality is. Rather than simply report a social reality in the vein of realism, Faulkner often distorts reality and perception. Think of Absalom, Absalom! Where narratives are reproduced and retold through various perspectives. The fragility of our worldviews are exposed when, history, time and social identity are always being conflated with one another. Through his mastery of perspective and voice and stylistic variation Faulkner exposes social anxiety, a conflict between hegemony and pluralism. Who can be sure about anything?

As seen in Faulkner South, nostalgia is a powerful and disruptive force. Where there is the divergent or the progressive there is the nostalgic conservative. As such the modernist are more appropriately called idealist (sometimes fascist). So I see the use of traditional sources and the appropriation of the classics as both a nostalgic enterprise and a reaction to nostalgic enterprise. Nostalgia is specifically interested in the continuation of past ideals. This is where the modernist diverges, those past ideals are lost and cannot be simply reclaimed they must be remade. This is basically a Utopian ideal. Many of the modernist sought to reclaim Eden or a near approximation; this is the implication of striving for impersonal and pure forms of art. While T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound are not the best representatives of humanity. They do exemplify the anxiety that produced modernism (and the anxiety produced by modernism. Latent to blatant fascism is deeply rooted in a desired authority of the artist and critic. It is my opinion the more successful modernist exposes the fragility of absolute form and purity by putting stress in the notion itself. Joyce was exhaustive in his compilation of language where his pupil Samuel becket was more direct it pointing to the inherent difficulties of being on time and being sure of anything at all (see anything he has written).

In Terms of Music: the nationalism and orientalism of the romantic era seem like nostalgic enterprises. Movements highly concerned with identity, origin and cultural difference. I believe in some respects modernism is a continuation of romantic tradition. In addition the stress placed on Identity and history, I think that the expansion and diversification of the Orchestra (technology?) is responsible for the very practical departure from past norms. For instance Wagner in the tradition of earlier romantic composers expanded the orchestra and the classical form (my laymen perspective is that the music became more epic and essentially more romantic). Likewise Wagner embraces a new generation of innovators. These new innovators evidently saw the great stress placed on the music itself. Perhaps Wagner and his contemporaries were the height of the romantic tradition; perhaps they were all the weight a tradition could hold. I personally believe that despite claims of artistic purity and autonomy this is merely a reflection/reaction of modernity, which is an era of developing stubbornness and self-inflicted isolation.

Harry Brown