The sound of culture, and the cultured sound.

July 24, 2006 at 13:48 | Posted in communicative media, Documentation of things, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage | Leave a comment

Cacti or Cactii? How bout neither? It’s because there is no ‘i’ before the ‘u’ in cactus. It’s cactuses–just like octopuses. I bought two cactuses at the Farmers’ market in Union Square, and I am glad to have them next to me when I sit at this oblong location of a dormitory desk that hovers somewhere between the elements of hospital and home.

I just became aware of the website Stasisfield–;: it seems like an interesting thing. While looking at the site I began thinking about what governs my engagement with works of sound. Perceptible structure certainly causes a rebuking response on my part, as I don’t like to be told what to do with music. However, there is some music that doesn’t cause me to react as such–I don’t know what qualifies this ‘acceptable’ structure.

…perhaps a brief manifesto on sound…

Let us not apotheosize John Cage’s contributions to sound as centers from which we derive our notion of music, rather let us make light of his work in lieu of his ideology, and focus on his adherence to structures beyond influence. In structures beyond influence I mean mechanisms for the organization of the parameters of sound (duration, dynamic, position) that are constructed without the possibility of attaining a posited course or outcome because they are not calculated as quantifiable or qualifiable values, rather they are given as value ranges of an inordained–by those personal quests of truth that pervade thorugh music–nature; these structures byeond influence allow for the human architect of object to be haunted by nature. But, do not take these statements as indication that structure is evil, or that it should be abandoned for total anarchy, or a nihilistic confounding of human-in-music. There is always room for those calculated structures that uphold a Truth, and–rightfully–ask us to believe that such a structure is an exercise of the inherent omnipotent value of humans making use of a medium. However, we must recognize that both of these ways of structuring sound are just that–different structures. While they overlap, they remain distinct. Those musical structures that affirm the trace of the human are measures of social cultures that happen to manifest–in this instance–through sound; the human haunts the medium. It is imperative that we recognize that such structuring in sound is socio-cultural in essence, and aural only in its particular taming. Those musical structures that exist in their attempts to evade the Truth of a social culture are exercises wherein the human attempts to become a ghost in the process of the manifesting of sound, and this vanishing act–if successful–becomes a measure of nature’s pervasiveness; nature always already haunts everything, including the human and the medium.


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