Archive for the ‘authentic voice’ Category

The Illuminatus Trilogy: Notes For a Potential Reader

June 26, 2009

It’s been some days now, that I took the farewell from Stella Maris, Mavis, Lady “are you a turtle?” Velkor,  the midget, Hagbard Celine, Malaclypse and, the best of them all, Chips, and went on with my hempless routine. Departure wasn’t easy, for these people have made me really happy.

Never mind, their presence is everywhere:  the books I read, the movies I see, the Game, the media, mediums and the coincidences I’m part of – they are everywhere.

Destroy All Rational Thought

So what is The Illuminatus Trilogy?

Don’t believe a word from that book’s cover – it’s one big rubbish aimed to be “attractive” to some people, as this book is, in its essence, resistible to any categorization. It’s not a sci-fi book, and it’s not a “conspiracy” book, it’s simply an irrational book, which you will find clear and shiny as Lucily diamonds.

R.A.W and Shea rationally destroy all rational thought. Here are some notes on that remarkable process:

Space

“It’s like a split-screen movie, but split a thousand ways, and with a thousand soundtracks.”

This is how the Book describes itself, and indeed, that’s what you are about to experience.

Think of it this way: a film viewed through a thousand-squares’ monitor, like an eye of a fly, each square presenting part of the film. As this is a book, not a film, the way to achieve this sub-framing of narratives is via the Cut-Up Technique – that which Brion Gysin invented and Burroughs adopted.

So there’s a story, but it was cut into endless pieces, and the book is the pasting of them all, not in a rational-linear order, but rather in chaotic one. It takes time to get used to it, to tame our attention to those jumps in Space.

Time

“This tomorrowtodayyesterday time is beginning to get under my skin. It’s happening more and more often”

The Book’s Time’s a liquid, pouring in any direction. There’s no past, present, future in the sequencing of events; it’s the tomorrow-today-yesterday world.  So hold tight, for you are just about to begin a trip.

Personalities

The world of a Book: space, time, people.

Forget what you know about Personalities & Characters. Here, anyone is anyone. There are always more personalities in what is supposed to be a single character, and often characters are seeing the world through the heads of other characters. You will find no salvation in trying to nail your cognition to a single personality – they are all constantly shifting around.

The I

Oh, the I, the Narrator, the one in charge. Who’s, indeed, the one in charge here?! I wish I knew that answer. The I is nothing but an Illusion. Most of the time, if there’s a multiple-parties’ conversation, the I is allocated to the one who speaks currently. So you tap into that conversation where everybody’s  I. Fuck it, get loose, you got nothing to lose.

Fog

There is a thick fog of hemp’ smoke to the ceiling of the Book. This book is meant to be INHALED!

Surprise, Surprise!

And yet, it all makes sense and the reading streams smoothly, and it is funny and intriguing!

I seriously think it’s a mystery. Those guys, Shea & Wilson, have deciphered something about the human brain, i.e. that it can see clearly through Chaos! The Book itself is constantly smoking good, quality dope, so its Characters can clear their mind and open their eyes;  same effect is achieved for the Reader (800 pages of top quality hemp) – you’re tripping all the way to the end, and the trip is lucid and crystal-clear.

The Story

Like any great work of art, the medium & the message, the structure & the narrative,  are synchronized. So, similarly to the free structure, space, time,  the I and the Characters of the book, so is the story telling us about people breaking space, time, the I, and anything else of an ordinary order.

What a wonderful world is this Book.

Robert Shea & Robert Anton WilsonRobert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson

Einstürzende Neubauten – Stella Maris

Foucault’s Fault

March 27, 2007

I had a conversation recently with a sociology professor who doesn’t like Foucault. “Clearly”, claimed the professor, “Foucault was reusing Weber’s theories, to name just one evident theft, never mentioning Weber as a source, pretending to be original”.

This is a well-known accusation against Foucault: “C’est un simulateur qui ne peut s’appuyer sur aucun texte sacré, et qui ne cite guère les grands philosophes”, is among a long list of “Against Foucault” with which Deleuze opens his book “Foucault”.

Michel Foucault

Forget Foucault; let’s deal with the underlying question: does an Author have the right to keep his sources private?

Journalists, who see themselves obliged to reveal and tell the truth, fight for their right to keep their sources private. And philosophers – can they reveal the truth without disclosing their sources?

Since the Author is Dead (or rather, has been dead since the very beginning (or rather, has existed only as a fiction, as a function)), then why bother quoting at all? No one is the Author of an idea.

What about using known concepts – is that as good as quoting? In “Qu’est-ce que la philosophie?” Deleuze & Guattari describe philosophy as the art of creating concepts (“la philosophie est l’art de former, d’inventer, de fabriquer des concepts”), and that a philosopher is recognized by the concepts she has created. Indeed, philosophical concepts are easily exchangeable with the philosophers who coined them: Idea, Cogito, Monad, Noumenon, Dasein, and Rhizome easily resurrect their dead authors.

But don’t get confused by this romantic description of the philosophical work: if someone is recognized as a philosopher only by the new concepts that he has introduced into the philosophical discourse [D&G], and if new and original are nothing but an illusion [Barthes], then philosophy is not the art of creating concepts but rather the art of rebranding preexisting concepts. The philosopher doesn’t have much choice but to refurbish and rebrand old concepts and present them as original ones.

This is a tough situation: if you don’t quote you are accused of plagiarism and of the hubris of being original; if you quote (explicitly – by referring to philosophers; implicitly – by reusing known concepts) you’re accused of not being original, hence – not a philosopher. The game is, therefore, to quote all along your thesis until that point where you bring up your own rebranded (yet necessarily preexisting) concept – that which you present and pretend to be your own.

Foucault, probably, refused to play this political Homo Academicus game. After all, it is not the concept that matters, but rather how it is told, to whom, and when. Nevertheless, Foucault acknowledged the rules of the game by tagging his work Fiction. He embraced the position of an outsider, accepting being labeled as a non-philosopher, non-historian, non-sociologist. A Fiction writer is free from disclosing his sources; moreover, he is free to refer to any known figure while asserting a clear disconnect between the signifier and the signified, between the Kant in his story and the Kant we all know.

The DJ of the Self; The Genealogy of the Mashup

February 21, 2007

Michel Foucault sees all humans as a mashup of what has always existed, and the great human endeavor being the rediscovery, then the analysis of those tracks from which we have become the remix that we are. It’s only when one is in front of and confronted with those rediscovered tracks, that s/he can start being the DJ of his/her own Self. The praxis herewith described is called the Genealogy of the Mashup.

Mashed

Mashed is a mis en abîme, a recursion of mashups, an explicit work of Genealogy, presenting fourteen Vs. kind of tracks (The Doors vs. Blondie; Iggy Pop vs. Peggy Lee..).

The first layer in our genealogical process is that which we see first: “Mashed” the CD, and the assertion “This is a collection” which is an overt awareness to the impossibility of being original – content-wise; “these 14 tracks of which I am made of are not mine”, thus spoke the 1st layer.

The 2nd layer, any of the fourteen tracks, is again a special kind of a remix, i.e a remix with a sense of History, each track bearing a Vs. kind of title, explicitly stating its genealogy – “I consist of these two voices in the minute of their meeting”. And you can experience the magic of the remix, the phantasmagoric world of the unoriginal for yourself: you can hear The Doors – they are there, fully present, and you can hear Blondie, and you can hear a third voice, that omnipresent voice which reappears only in the minute of their meeting: the voice of the dead author.

Of course, nothing is sacred; from those rediscovered voices, only the poetic moments have been remixed into the 2nd layer, the meeting layer. And that’s the work each DJ should be doing on his/her self.

On the 3rd layer there’s this rediscovered, separated track, or the leftovers of what used to be a glamorous song by The Doors: Riders on the Storm. We know today that the genealogy goes further into the past, till the dawn of mankind. Riders on the Storm belongs to the history of implicit mashups. There’s a work of genealogy to do here too.

Mashups are poetics. If you need another proof, please help yourself with Cathrine Vs. ?.

deneuve70.jpg

Catherine Deneuve (Photograph by Douglas Kirkland)

 

The Death of the Author; the Birth of the Voice

February 10, 2007

In my post DJ Spooky’s Remix Simulacrum I questioned the concept of an “authentic voice” in general, and the concept of a “remix” in particular:

“Given that the human history of ideas, progress, art, etc. is the history of remix, i.e. the unexpected association of different, seemingly unrelated memes, should “remix” be classified as an authentic voice or an unauthentic one?”

That post ended with only questions. I might have now a sort of an answer, which will be based on literary criticism, specifically on Roland Barthes “The Death of the Author”, as well as on our memory, or rather on our capacity to… forget.

In “The Death of the Author” (1967) Barthes states that “the writer can only imitate a gesture forever anterior, never original”. Any text, therefore, be it an “original” or a “remix” is deemed to be the reincarnation of older texts. Let’s forget, than, the illusion of authenticity [, or of truth, or of reality etc.] – there’s no such thing.

Here’s an excerpt from Barthes:

“We know that a text does not consist of a line of words, releasing a single “theological” meaning (the “message” of the Author-God), but is a space of many dimensions, in which are wedded and contested various kinds of writing, no one of which is original: the text is a tissue of citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture. Like Bouvard and Pecuchet, those eternal copyists, both sublime and comical and whose profound absurdity precisely designates the truth of writing, the writer can only imitate a gesture forever anterior, never original”.

barthes.jpg

Yet I’d like to suggest a distinction between the authenticity of the text and the authenticity of the voice (leaving aside concepts of author, writer, speaker etc.). Indeed, the text is essentially unauthentic; the author is being dead, and the reader is, righteously, the new meaning-provider. Yet from all this destruction, I think that something new is born: the voice.

The Voice

Barthes continues the above quoted text with what can be understood as a minor observation on his part, but a one that I think is key to understanding the essence and the role of the authentic voice – that which tells an essentially unauthentic story:

“his [the writer, the dead author, the layman speaker] only power is to combine the different kinds of writing, to oppose some by others, so as never to sustain himself by just one of them”.

I’d like to interpret this last sentence as suggesting that authentic voices are those associating old texts in a certain way in a certain time for a certain society. And even if the last sentence from Barthes doesn’t say that, I’d still like to stick to this idea, and to maintain that this role of the authentic voice is of an extreme importance.

The authentic voice is that which reminds us of old, forgotten texts. What I’ll say now is not original, but it’s important: the past contains many answers for us, mostly in the form of unanswered questions (yes, I noticed the paradox). Faulkner has this saying that the past is never dead and that it is not even past. This insight, I think, is critical for our survival, for our progress. The right old question [or text in its broadest meaning] brought up in the right moment in the right context can change things. What Barthes cannot take from the dead author is his choice of the texts and of the moment and context of their reincarnation.

In other words, the role of the authentic voice is to bring up, to remind, in a certain point in time, some old texts so that the “reader” will start his/her process of creating meaning – actual, relevant meaning – around them. The authentic voice is the catalyst, the trigger of the whole process.

Remember (for future use): a society that cannot forget is a society that cannot remember.