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|... and Merry Xmas|
I have to say that I never really trusted in Marc Augé and his radical-chic 'non lieux' anthropology.
The first thing that strikes me is that at the moment science is developing very quickly and, on the other hand, the inequality between those who are close to the poles of knowledge and those who are disconnected, those who are even unable to read or write, this difference is growing more quickly than the difference between the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. If we project these changes into the future, we may fear a world in which, rather than generalised democracy, there develops an aristocracy around the poles where knowledge, money and power concentrate, and a mass of consumers, and an even larger mass of non-consumers, those who are excluded from both consumption and knowledge. In the end, it may be that this competition between cities has some connection, more or less conscious, with this hypothetical future. It is possible to imagine that the smaller cities are further ahead in this competition than the other, larger and more powerful cities. And all this, this competing between cities to carve out a niche for themselves, is made evident in architecture: there are some ten or twenty well-known architects whose buildings the cities of the world want to have, because having them, having one of their iconic works, means making a place for yourself on this international network. It seems clear that Barcelona might be one of these cities in competition.
The real problem Augé seems to avoid, is the fact that the times of the 'symbolic=connection', or the times of 'connection=symbolic', are finally over and, possibly, forever. And that this is a truth that concerns power (whatever that word means today) so much as 'the poor'.
Augé talks about places and circulation, and about architrecture as far as rationalizing spaces and communications. Performance art dealt in the last decades so much with the virtual, the symbolic, the connection, the place, the inside, the outside. At the point that, since art is always a way to approach and reflect reality, now we know that such words are completely meaningless.
It was different at the times of psychoanalisis, the last of the western - materialistic as far as western - religions. Sigmund Freud and his fellows - Carl G. Jung, Mélanie Klein, Wilhelm Reich - and the subsequent surrealistic movement - from André Breton and Louis Aragon to Joan Mirò, Louis Bunuel and Antonin Artaud - were all looking for a connection almost in the same way. Possibly only Jacques Lacan was really looking far ahead - in the west. The video of the Italian actor Carmelo Bene, from his Macbeth Horror Suite, seem to be the completion of Lacan's reflections on the voice, so people interested in this blog as a vehicle for music are not far from their own commitment here - but not even compelled to.
The really interesting thing in Jacques Lacan idea - a Freudian concept passed through Saussure's linguistic studies - of the relationship between the self and the other - the other that gives shape to the self, as in every western conception of reality, projective and divided as it is every western idea of the self - is that it is the voice to represent the symbolic liaison, the law, and to be a guarantee for the subject, for the self, that the law will be respectful of its reality, that the self will never be disrupted, distroyed.
If psychosis, schizofrenia, paranoia, is so the result of a lack of guarantee that the other - the mother, the father, society, the law, the power - is respectful of the unity of the self, every artistic representation involving such concepts in reality has gone thus far. Art in some way is kind of affected from a borderline personality disorder: is to push directly the listener, or the seer, or the reader, to elaborate questions about the law, to the order, the symbolic, the self.
That's why since almost a couple of centuries, in which the explosion of codes and rules in every art field was nothing more than a way to break through the aestetics as a matter of consoling - the refusal to be 'bourgeois' - passed through the attempt to give back - over the stage, over the frame, over the lines - to the absence of mediations.
Do you remember the 'motto': art is antisocial? You got it. But in some way the effort of every creative urge is so totalitarian - think about the attempt of every artist to create its own personal language in order to communicate new contents through new forms and to be recognizable as such, as unique - that can also be considered violent, and so at the opposite of a revolution - at least of a democratic one. Art is fascist? Some artist was accused of that. Glenn Branca, as an example - and by the like of John Cage, nonetheless. Art deals with love, and death is part of it. Think to be able of getting rid of the contradiction? You aren't. Because you are in the middle. As art. So, you got to dance.
I know how risky is to get through similar items and so go ahead with such a discussion, but the whole point is, if big concepts are the same, and we want to avoid to talk in vain about unreal things, what's really, so to speak, real, or true? And, more, are we so sure to really been able to avoid abstraction nowadays? Are we sure that the world of the non-idiomatic is really or, at least, always the world of the essential, of the in-between?
In a discussion with a famous avant garde trumpet player I had some months ago in Italy, we were at a certain point discussing about the idea that no one now is dealing with creating anything new for a lack of courage in going outside the mainstream. The day after - it was an intensive interview sessions - another musician, famous as such, a saxophone player, told me about his non believing in 'new forms in art'. But it is a fact that, when he started to play, what he was doing sounded really new. And it is new even today, if you approach it for the first time.
Nine months after, and I'm sometimes so frightented about how much new stuff I'm discovering, and about how much I feel the need to have more informations and skills about even the old stuff I love and I want to write about, that I'm still grateful for not living only with my writing about music, and to have the opportunity to take my time. Possibly, the most interesting and - as far as me - truthful concept elaborated by a living artist in depicting the situation, is Anthony Braxton 'tri-centric vibrational dynamics'.
The idea that we are dealing everyday with informations in order to manage with our own lives, that art and music is part of that and that creativity can be dangerous for every wrong circulation of informations: Braxton states that usually establishment gives informations about the 'lower partials' - e.g.: 'Charlie Parker was a genius and a drug addicted' - without any regard for the 'upper partials' - the social conditions and the artistic background of every Charlie Parker - diffusing so an idea of 'revolution' - even of 'artistic revolution' that is mutilated and an idea of artistic personality mediated through romanticism and psychologicism.
That's what probably, outside of the psychoanalitic mythology, Lacan was referring to with the term 'manque' ('lack', in English). The same Diamanda Galàs was referring to when talking about the 'plague' of the AIDS as provoked by mass media. The same Amiri Baraka was referring to when talking about the lack of a sociological study on the 'negro music' in the USA. But what about today, in 2011, in London?
Since my first three months here, it seems to me that there's no such an artistic movement or artist nowadays able to express the contradictions I'm beginning to see there. After three months living in the Zone 2, I relocated at the borders of the Zone 3, in East Ham. Not that far there is Canary Wharf, one of the most important financial districts of the city, while at the border of my block there is a building used as a mosque.
I'm so happy, at least for the moment, to be able to pass through all those different environments, since I really fear every definite form of steadiness. As far as my own experience, when you get to a point in which you staunch it all forever, you really begin to die. And to vanish. Back to London as a topic, no. There is no artistic form that try to condensate, to express, all the complexity of what you can see.
Improvised music, the one you can find here, is different than in the USA. Not different musically: avant-garde jazz in the US is really an interesting and almost complete expression of the American society at its best - you can check my alter blog Complete Communion for that, though I have never been personally in the USA. Here in the UK instead, improvised and avant-garde music is, in a typical English style, a 'particular' that want to avoid by definition to reach a wider landscape.
|Sabo Toyozumi and Adam Lindson at the Oto Club - my photo|
It has interesting aspect reflecting totality as every particular, but in a manner not always conscious of its contradictions, sometimes even at his best, showing itself as disconnected. Skim through my past reviews and you'll see at what extent, and with what risks.
Same is for the myriads of ethnic related and non ethnic related music: East-Europe folk, reggae, afrobeat, house, metal. The two vectors are: respect of a tradition and sometimes the direct presence of a legacy in the shape of lieutenants of the prime movers - but rarely this get to a pure and void cult of personality, usually the promises are maintained - and on the other hand every crosspollination possible - but inside the boundary of given coordinates: you can listen to Algerian afrobeat mixed with a balkan tinge played onstage by musicians coming from Italy - horns players moslty, Egypt and Nigeria together, or to an entire night of 'noise' music that is mostly mutant heavy metal, with bands composed by two drumsets, a bass and a singer, or two guitars and drums, or a sigle guitar, but you will never meet - at least, i still didn't meet - a crossover in the proper sense of the world.
Go to the Southbank Centre, and there is a place for jazz, ethnoworld and contemporary music, but it is the same - and again, you'll hear Ornette Coleman or Toumani Diabate, but not Stephen O' Malley and Sunn O))). The effect so, is sometimes - mostly on the European side, to tell you the truth - the one of an orde of illegitimate Lovercraft sons. And that's why I completely disagree with Augé analysis of society - even if in the quote he's talking about Barcelona, and not London. Everyone of us seem to have access to communication and to express ourselves and realize ourselves (vertical relationships).
What's really missing here is the ability - for reasons still unknown to me: since my arrival here I communicated with few Italians, and mostly, and for my precise will, with English, French, Romanian, Brazilian, Bangladesi and African-American people - to build horizontal relationships. Artistically, there is not such. You know what that mean, socially speaking. That's why I was quoting Lacan: as far as it seems, we here are all (over?)protected, but not communicating between us.
And this is the - unconsciously but precisely expressed - judgement we have on the symbolic: we all don't believe in it nor in ourselves, but we try to relate first and foremost with it and each other through it. And the art here, at least music, is a pure and clear reflection of it all. As always.