27 Jun 2007

As I am soon leaving for India, there will be no updates for the next month.
Added you find a raga by the well know master Ali Akbar Khan, as well two musical registrations of Tibetan rituals. The latter are released on a compilation called "Tibetan Buddhist Rites from the Monastery of Bhutan", and are among the best field recordings of Tibetan Music. Listening to it, I'm again suprised how rich their musical heritage is. In the West we just have begun to discover Eastern music; a discovery which I believe somehow might have the power to reconceive traditional Western conceptions of music as well as our appraisal of the spiritual traditions of the East.

Ali Akbar Khan - Two Lovers (mp3)

Tibetan Rites - Exhortation to the Guardian Goddess of Long Life (mp3)

Tibetan Rites - Rise Up, Padma Sambhava (mp3)

18 Jun 2007

The Violence of the Real. Transcendental Style in Film

Since I saw Taxi Driver for the first time (about 7 or 8 years ago), it has always remained one of my favourite movies. And thinking about transcendental types, I used to associate precisely Travis (Robert De Niro) with such a type. Travis, an old war-veteran who suffers of insomnia, is the typical loner who cannot finds it place again in the 'symbolic order'. He tries to be a taxi driver, as an attempt to symbolise his position at the margin, but also this fails. Being himself an outcast, living with outcasts (while working at night, serving other people in the margin) is not an option. What has fallen apart is the 'symbolic order' as a whole. We could say: a theology of liberation is no longer an option, for the idea of moral or political reform (as a program) has lost it's force. But where the symbolic loses its grip over Travis, Travis becomes the hostage of a different force: a singular, absolute relation to the real (he has to kill). Of course, this absolute relation manifest itself first in the form of a program: he prepares an attack on the presidential candidate, but it becomes clear that his agenda is finally not political. He has to be remain faithfull to a singular calling, and this can be lived anywhere and anytime.
Of course, I used to consider this Lacanian-transcendental reading as a little bit of overinterpretation, but was surprised to discover recently that Paul Schrader (the scriptwriter of Taxi Driver) had actually such a sort of transcendental type in mind. Schrader took his inspiration from Bresson's movie Pickpocket, and had just finished his studie of the work of Bresson, Ozu and Geyer, published as 'Transcendental Style in Film'. In a next topic, I will come back on his idea of transcendental style, for it are precisely these experiments which will help us to conceive something like a transcendental style in music (in life, in thought).

12 Jun 2007

Jarboe / Swans

"a ritual awakening
transport transformation
in her altar of temptation
taste of bliss, anunciation

treasure book and temple
eternal idol mystica
transcendental satisfaction
the sweet meat - love and holy cult"

I have no idea what Jarboe is actually trying to say here; it's just always a little funny to hear the word 'transcendental' in a song (definitely not a word with good pop-credibility). Anyway, Jarboe is still, after so many years one of the most fascinating women in rock music. The song 'ode to v' is from her 1995 album Sacrificial Cake.
Added are also two Swans songs. Jarboe became part of the Swans in 1986 and married frontman Michael Gira. For 10 years as a creative duo, they made some of the most intense music, anticipating many developments in rock (in the early eighties they started the whole noise/industrial movement, in the early nineties postrock). The end of the band was also the end of their marriage. The both still continue as solo-artists. Michael Gira also performs with his band Angels of Light, and owns his own underground record label 'Young God records' (he discovered for example Devendra Banhart).
Swans - Failure (mp3) (from the 1991 album White Light from the Mouth of Infinity)
Swans - 1000 years (mp3) (from the 1988 Lp World of Skin)

1 Jun 2007

One divides into Two. On Immanent Tensions

On thinking further about ‘Battles’ and the philosophy of Deleuze, I realised how relative a notion as immanence can be. In some way, indeed through their aspired neutrality, ‘Battles’ invoke a pure immanent logic: the music is not about something, it’s not representational, there is no external reference. But this idea of immanence has nothing to do with the immanence of a flat, liberal cultural, nothing with a pragmatic acceptance of the contemporary world. Through the whole logic of deterritorialisation, true music opens up within immanence a way of connecting with what we could call the ‘Real’, or in the Deleuze’s terminology ‘Life’. Deleuze stresses here that this connection with Being as Life is in itself a pure immanent happening, in this sense that he wants to exclude all reference to a transcendent metaphysical principle like a theistic God. Nevertheless, Deleuze also establishes a structure of absolute non-relation, of discontinuity through deterritorialisation. In this sense he repeats a move which we could associate with a contemporary form of transcendentalist dualism. Of course, metaphysically Deleuze argues that Being is One, but this one immediately divides into two: the process of absolute creativity (of Life) gives rise to actual states of being, and as such there appears a distinction between a dynamic principle of creation and the static orders of creatures. The latter then becomes our ‘home’, as the world of representation, and as a flight from ‘Life’, whereas true spirituality instead implies the radical affirmation of ‘Life’ by becoming a vessel of creation: so we have to go back from the static order of creatures/objects to the transcendental, dynamic order of creation. Surprisingly, Deleuze comes here very close to the thought of Michel Henry, to the ‘nouveaux philosophes’ (Jambet & Lardreau) and to more Lacanian inspired authors as Kristeva.

For a bright analysis of the non-relational, dualistic tendencies of contemporary French thought, cf. Peter Hallward, The One or the Other. French Philosophy Today, in Angelaki (2003/2) 1-31. Cf. also his book on Deleuze: Out of this World. Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation, Verso, 2006.