Revised quick to the guide (was: Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson (was: Re: Computer chicken)))

Subject: Revised quick to the guide (was: Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson (was: Re: Computer chicken)))
From: Eliot Handelman (
Date: Tue Oct 04 2005 - 14:42:54 EDT

Dennis Bathory-Kitsz wrote:

>At 03:14 PM 10/3/05 -0700, Eliot Handelman wrote:
>>The thing I said at the top ...
>Did I lose your point somewhere ...

I'm trying to help clarify a few topics in musical postmodernism offering
a (of course) idiosyncratic interpretation. I don't want argue about
12-tone music.

PM is to me mostly about problems of communication in the light of
the circumstances of the world we inhabit. It's not about a style.

One important issue is that whereas the world *is* going somewhere,
we're at the beginning of the most radical social revolution that ever
escalating changes, etc.

In the Ferrari interview that someone mentioned, Ferrari said:

"I think 1968 benefitted from our action."

May 68 is in fact THE event that defines the enlightenment impulse in all
later discussions of postmodernism, especially when french writers are

This was still the moment when artists "were the antennae of the race,"
in Pound's phrase.
By making your little noises you were somehow helping to create a new
feeling about the
kinds of freedoms that were possible and which should be taken (see also
F.'s comments
about a workshop realization of Tautologos 3 "I am free, you know ...")
and which eventually WERE taken.

Postmodernism, in some (I think important) ways, means "post-68".

One paradox of postmodernism is that in many ways art DID succeed in its
social views about creative liberation. Everyone can now be an artist on
own terms and find their own public. This was totally not true even in
Ferrari's day -- the GRM said about "presque rien 1": "it wasn't music."

Of course F laughs about this, as do we, because how can it not be music
if someone
says it is? Do we require anything more? I may not like it ... but to
challenge its
ontology --- to situate music in some space beyond its actual practice?
People used to
talk about "the rules of music," but nowadays we say "the rules of a
style" and what we
probably mean has something more to do with Chomsky than with parallel

So one aspect of postmodernism is : art has become a "social practice", or,
of course, many social practices.

At the same time, if I may say so, this is exactly NOT how that part of
the world
that is organizing our revolution works. Let's take one example -- the

Eg, TCP/IP or 'the "information processing paradigm" of cognitive science,
etc. Standardization can have enormous power to create foundations on
which things
can be built.

Now we get into the "blank slate" problem. If we are, in fact, purely
social organisms,
then we have infinite freedom to say who we are and to become whatever
we want.

If we are actually complex machines with built-in programs, our freedom is
illusory or, to put it in a different way: there is such a thing as
music. It's music
not because someone says so, but because we can observe the music part
of the
brain doing something when we scan ourselves.

Postmodernism in music means to me: address this discrepancy.

Of course there are also many ways of thinking about PM as "the end of
..." but
I'm personally much more interested in "the beginning of ..."

PM is NOT, to me, importantly about "there are 10 million active
composers at present,
and all of these different styles, so how to make your mark." NOT.

PM is likely to be: there is no distinction between producer and
consumer. Excuse
me while I kiss the sky.

Or composing will become a kind of serious research in a way that it
never was.

Or new kinds of virtuality.

Or the ability to confer technical possibilities on everyone.

These things all have one common issue -- listener-centricity.

To me that's the single most important issue surrounding the problem of

>In other words, 9/13 of postmodernism is still modernism.
We only ever have intimations of postmodernism -- the quote from the
Gibson book
I was mentioning earlier. It's an imaginative sweep at present, not a

>Okay, but postmodernism includes a vast swath of everything, making it
>possible to pick and choose what can be perceived.
Picking and choosing is a kind of listener-centricity -- remember what
one of the punks
around here said a few years ago -- that arranging songs in playlists is
a creativity of no
different order than anything else. There's something to that.

>Of course, I've also made the claim many times that this is a Golden Age of
>new music.
Well I totally believe that this is THE time to be living if you're
interested in music, on
whatever level, composer, listener, student. There was never a moment
with greater possibility
than right now. And the possibilities are going to increase.

>I'm still typing as your messages come in. Something like, "there's no such
>thing as a theory of music that isn't, in the first place, a theory of
>musical quality." The advantage of postmodernism is its charming lack of a
>theory of music, so that quality never need come into question.

On my terms, hit song science is postmodern. It's not my kind of theory,
because it doesn't provide
any kind of explanation, and it's not a good theory because it has no
power to predict
what might interest people other than through the framework of what they
previously liked, but it is a theory
in the sense of predicting quality. This kind of thing WILL increase.

producer-centric free-for-all-ism to my mind is only a transitional
phase of postmodernism.
Things are due to change.

>>The underlying idea is that we should not allow our social world to
>>instigate parameters
>>on truth for us. Instead this must be individually accessible.
>You're the intelligence theory guy, so I'll not be able to hold my own in a
>discussion about how an individual can even be identified as such without
>being part of a 'social world to instigate parameters on truth'.

By thinking? By doing research? Do I allow my bosses to tell me what
problems I'm allowed
to think about? Am I afraid of not getting tenure? Do my student reviews
affect me? Am I afraid
of not getting the grant because what I'm doing doesn't fit in? Am I
able to evaluate research on my
own, or should I check to see how many times the article was cited? Can
I spot the flaw? Does
it disagree with my own experience? Do I have some way of evaluating the
plausibility of my
theorizations other than appealing to a peer-review committee?

-- eliot

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b27 : Sat Dec 22 2007 - 01:46:12 EST