Working under the aesthetic premise that it is the context of some physical thing that charges it with meaning, I would like to say a few words about music.  It’s actually quite simple and not that profound at all, but frequently looked over by musicians and other artists.  Music is simply a way for cultures to communicate with one another.  Any other discussion about music is merely talking about taste in some ungrounded theoretical way.  The context of a song at a particular venue is what charges the tune with cultural power, similarly to the way the context of a symbol can charge it with meaning, like in natural languages.  It is the language of inter-cultural discourse.  In a phrase, tone or rhythm, musical histories that extend into socio-political histories are summoned to the venue.  It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Metal or Punk-Classical.  You are inevitably continuing the historical inter-cultural dialectic, either through an embrace or rejection of musical sensibilities throughout history.  If you accept the premise and follow it through, as a musician, you are the voice of a people in a vast history of cultural dialectics.  Musical traditionalists that adhere to strict tonal, rhythmic and emotional limitations are as mute to cultural discourse as a Cubist painting hanging on a white wall in a museum. Image

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My music

June 20, 2011

Here’s a link to some music I make with a trio in my apartment.  I’m on piano.

http://www.myspace.com/saltwaterandthefunky24bits

We can know “why”.  Knowing “why”, though, suggests Believing in “why”.  I’m not talking about believing in the reasons for an expressive act, but rather believing in “why” itself.  Asking why is calling upon a greater power to explain expressive actions.  Call it whatever you want, but when I spill a cup of coffee on the floor, I certaintly don’t ask the cup, the coffee, or the floor why that happened.  I ask Why.  The “cup”, “coffee” and “floor”, as I understand them through deductive and reductive essentialist concepts revised throughout history, might be used to answer why.  But I would be answering only that which can be answered.  The actual is a mystery.  The actual seems to penetrate the body with physical power and little else.  Culture has destroyed reality.   It’s a necessary adaptation, so I’m not too angry about it.  All is words.  The world is interpreted the way a novel is.  The actual world is lost in a “life or death” interpretation.  Categories become created from criteria.  New parameters are created and the interpreted world opens up into more complexity as each parameter is employed.  People ontologize when they decide to wake up in the morning.

I don’t understand the world.  I understand understanding OF the world.  My body feels.

Maybe, if you listen to this collision of genre’s in this song I made and ask “why”, you’ll understand that you’re asking a god to answer your question.  You’re praying to “why” if you take up that task.  The music becomes disintegrated into a prayer of reasons, rather than a celebration of life.  (not that it’s a good song.  I’m just using this time to point something very simple out to anyone who reads this.)

Enjoy:

Good Habits

Dialectics-As-Process

February 3, 2009

dinosaur-fossil-scelidotherium_leptocephalum_side

The context that postmodern aesthetics takes into account, traced back to Frederick Law Olmsted’s creation of parks in New York City in the 19’th Century, developed into a massive dialectical relationship of the landscape to human activities, be it social, political, and natural. The vastness of the context, for some post modernists, spans all the way back to the paleolithic era encased in permeable glass in museums – the bones of a triceratops still undergoing the culturally emergent notion of entropy – to the extrapolated second law of thermodynamics, that says, in the future, the universe will become an all-encompassing sameness, all the way to the irreversability of eternity. The context encompasses our (biased) epistemic evolution along with the actual landscape in a dialectic-as-process that is never finished.

mayan-ruins1

I think dialectical relationships need to be specific. For instace, a dialectic between a landscape and a map must consider a broad contextual range, meaning that the physical sciences must be employed to establish the “side” of the landscape in the dialectic and its relation to the “side” of the map. Physical history, like geological time, of a particular landscape (site) is in a continual relationship with the human activities (social, political and natural). The primordial eras are entombed in permeable glass cases, where heat can escape the fossils of dinosaurs. We have a relationship with the primordial era through the archeological digs that brought up the fossils from rock layers in the earth. They are now entombed in museums. The entropic geological time, then, might be said to be in a relationship with the social, political and natural human (cultural) activites manifested in the “landscape” of the architecture, and design of a history museum. The preserved history is what some postmodern artists were interested in, as they could use a physical landscape of a museum to establish a dialectic with the maps. The social, political, and natural (i.e. biological evolution) histories are found in ruins like pompey, cathedrals in europe, Mayan Pyramids, and even the deteriorating archtecture of today. History proper, is a fiction to some. The people that hold this view become interested in the ruined landscapes of past civilizations, fossils found in the rocks, hieroglyphs, language entombed in books – all real stuff – even the buildings erected today that “rise into ruin, rather than erected for the future.” (paraphrasing Smithson) The future becomes forgotten in the past – meaning in the instant a brick is layed, it is already in ruin. The future is remembered through the past.  The history museums are an actual landscape undergoing physical processes alongside cultural processes. This way, a map of the past can be developed from a transitory landscape evolving along with human cultural activities.

In simpler terms, All of the physical Sciences, aesthetics, semiology, architecture, and art are employed on actual landscapes to make maps of history. It is a deconstruction of Idealistic historical dialectics, through the belief in material reality. Alot of artists were reading Borges, Merleau Ponty, Levi-Strauss, Olmsted, physicists, biologists, chemists, geologists, etc., which reconstructed this deconstruction of history-as-an-idea.

All of these sciences are themselves an historically contingent cultural emergence that change alongside with the landscape. The landscape is no longer a “thing-in-itself” but a “thing-for-us”.

Material Synaesthesia:

Language is a synaesthetic metaphorical material behavior (i.e. written symbolic metaphors, acoustic symbolic metaphors) of humans in a dialectical relationship with the actual material landscape. It is a culturally emergent, evaluative process that evolves along with the actual landscape – a “thing-for-us”. This landscape (a “thing-for-us”) is “under” the entropy of our evaluative, culturally emergent physical laws (like thermodynamics). It is an irreversable entropic eternity. In other words, this process never ends.

An example:

I think it is the synaesthetic transformations from one sense to another that is what, sensationally, distinguishes us from other creatures – the degree of detail to which we are able to transform one sense into another. This, I think, is really what metaphor is – synaesthesia manifested. The convergence of the patterned frequencies heard by the ear, and the (different in type) patterned frequencies recieved by the eye occurs in the imagination. Even the first representative sound uttered by a human being was a metaphor for, say a rock. It was a synaesthetic translation from the range of some sense(s) into sound. The metaphor was waving in the air. The rock, from then on had been essentialized, and reduced into an acoustic metaphor wobbling in the ether and resonating in the bodies of the community.

The rock could be synaesthetically moved around away from the rock to the campfire, or on the hunt. The rock was now mobile, as a reductive metaphor.

Concealed conceptual synaesthetic abstractions within a literal context (metaphor):

Even a literal statement can conceal a metaphor. This is a type of syneshesia, where the seemingly literal “surface” is only literal because it has within it abstractions. These abstractions are only rendered with power in a context of varying disparieties. As contextual relations are established, the the degrees of abstract oppositions emerge. They emerge as synaesthetic conceptual metaphors, where a word in a context that is a seemingly topographical literal statement conceals an image, taste, and even sound. Location turns into, through conceptual synaesthesia, an imaginative experience.

An example:

The context in which the word “potato” is placed determines its power and meaning. Concealed within words in a context are abstractions, like color, taste, sound, line etc., that enlivens the imagination. However, it is only through the concealed abstract oppositions in a sentence, pragraph etc., that make a potato what it is. It is made what it is by the contextual degrees of oppositions. For instance:

The potato is in a ceramic bowl next to an apple on a wood table.” In this case, the red of the apple might bring to mind the flesh color of the potato… taste, texture soforth with degrees of abstract opposition.

The potato is in a quantum pool of particles going through entropy.” In this context, potato may no longer have a taste, or a (relatively) specific color, but an animated abstraction.

The actual potato – the landscape – is in a dialectical relationship with the maps of the potato. The actual potato is inseperable from the social, political, and natural activities of culture. It is intertwined in a dialectical relationship. The evaluative interpretations (maps) of the actual potato change along with the actual potato “underneath” the culturally emergent physical laws.

Some Material on Dialectics

February 2, 2009

Some material on Dialectics:

Robert Smithson, nonsite
nonsitecontained
“The side of a smooth green hill, torn by floods, may at first be properly called deformed, and on the same principle, though not with the same impression, as a gash on a living animal. When a rawness of such a gash in the ground is softened, and in part concealed and ornamented by the effects of time, and the progress of vegitation, deformity, by this usual process, is converted into picturesqueness; and this is the case with quarries, gravel pits, etc., which at first are deformities, and which in their most picturesque state, are often considered as such by a levelling improver.”

– Uvedale Price, Three Essays on the Picturesque, (1810)

“Burkes notion of “beautiful” and “sublime” functions as a thesis of smoothness, gentle curves, and delicacy of nature, and as an antithesis of terror, solitude, and vastness of nature, both of which are rooted in the real world, rather than a Hegelian Ideal… We cannot take a one-sided view of the landscape within this dialectic. A park can no longer be seen as a “thing-in-itself”, but rather as a process of ongoing relationships existing in a physical region – the park becomes a “thing-for-us”… dialectics of this type are a way of seeing things as a manifold of relations, not as isolated objects. Nature, for the dialectician is indifferent to any formal ideal… Olmsted’s parks exist before they are finished, which means in fact they are never finished; they remain carriers of the unexpected and of contradictions on all levels of human activity, be it social, political, or natural.”

– Robert Smithson, “Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape”, (1973)

“Both sides [of the dialectic] are present and absent at the same time. The land, or ground is placed in the art, rather than the art placed on the ground… Large scale becomes small. Small scale becomes large. A point on a map extends to the size of a landmass. A landmass contracts to a point… The rules of this network of signs are discovered as you go along uncertain trails both mental and physical.

– Robert Smithson, “The Spiral Jetty”, (1972)

If cultural means, “social, political, or natural human activity” then I would say dialectics are the result of cultural relations with the landscape. The material landscape becomes mapped my the mental, as the landscapes shift from entropy to different mapped “states” (mobility) of Picturesque to deformed. The material shits in relation to the mental interpretative evaluations of it. The landscape is never finished, and our maps are never finished. The maps are continually revised in a dialectical relationship with the entropic lanscape. Human activity (culture) effects our evaluative and interpretive maps of the landscape. The development of the dialectic is an entropic phenomenon, both in the material and in our maps. They do converge as “a point on a map extends to the size of a landmass [, and] a landmass contracts to a point [on a map].”

Material Symbols

January 25, 2009

log-spiralduo 

In anything with potential, or expressed material power, it seems to me that it is the opposing dissimilarities within their context that illuminate the matter into it’s powerful expression. Whether it be printed matter – some symbols on a page, a landscape (natural or architectural), a motion picture, or a belief etc., it is the disparates of the relative matter that surge it with expressive power. Symbols on a page, only have phoenetical or conceptual meaning because of the angular and (more generally) spacial irregularities in the symbolic context itself. The “H“, made of “l” “” and “l“, are nuetral, and powerless if isolated away from the context of “H“, or (further) “Home”, or (even further) “Homeplate is riddled with cleat marks and wet with dirt.” It becomes a mute set of symbols that are not even phoenetically powerful. However, when the “I” “” “I” of an “H” are pieced together in a context (which it can never not be), the symbol grows in strength into an expressive entity because of the angular “disagreements”. The symbolic mind, if looked at this way, becomes a recognition of opposing forms that illuminate the symbols into expressive entities. The recognition is not in the similarites, but in the dissimilarities. We read and interpret through the spatial variations of oppositions in the material. The perception of where these oppositions are, spatially, I think, give bias its relative character. The normative (rule-following) mind is hinged on the “inner eye” seeing this material, spatial play. The normative mind is following spatial rules, seen by the eyes. The symbolic structure of a letter, word, sentence, paragraph, chapter, book, desk, room etc., is only recognizable by the rule-following mind because of the depth perception of the eyes. The symbols only become rules to follow after the perception of the the spatial play of the symbols through the eyes perception of opposition. Or, in other words, the oppositions percieved by the eyes give form content. The content is then interprested and evaluated by the mediator of the normative.

To speculate, I imagine the material symbols come from a type of synesthesia of seeing the sounds, and then representing the sounds as sights. A backwards logic is used when then translating the sights of symbols into sounds and images, respectively. Reading (interpreting and evaluating through the normative) is a spiraling process that is set into motion by the consistent reversals of translating sounds to symbols and back again. It is a material process that rotates on an axis of depth perception.

Speculation aside, and propositionally focused – perceptual opposition in matter gives symbols their expressive power.