Sunday, May 24, 2009

D and G music factory

So I'm lying awake at night, thinking about what sort of questions I'll have to field at my defense... like 98 years from now.

"Why don't you talk more about A Thousand Plateaus? Especially the question of the refrain, with relation to the high degree of repetition in minimalist music."

Thank you for asking that question, Jon. This is something I considered doing, but ultimately decided against.

A talk was given a couple of years ago at a conference dedicated to minimalist music, that quite articulately warned against the facile conjunction of minimalism and Deleuze. The first stimulus for this reflex is Deleuze's old book, Difference and Repetition, but several other moments in D.'s output suggest the same connection. One of these, is the Refrain, which is featured in its very own plateau.

What needs to be born in mind about Deleuze's work--and this goes for many of his contemporaries as well--is that they're almost never talking about what they look like they're talking about. Falling out of the philosophic tradition, Deleuze (as well as Derrida, Irigaray, and quite a few others) finds the language of the tradition itself to be part of the problem. The result of their critique of phallogocentrism (the privileging of the engendered subject and the primacy of meaning) is that language itself--particularly philosophical language--is radically problematic. An attempt at the beginning of a solution leads us to what is sometimes called ecriture, critical theory, or postmodern criticism. In Deleuze, as elsewhere, this often takes the form of a displacement.

Or metaphor, in the colloquial sense of the word. The refrain is such a displacement. What D+G are really talking about here is identity, but Heidegger has already shown us that deconstructing identity leads into an abyss. Deleuze and Guattari can't look closely at how identity is constructed through disciplined philosophical language, because identity forms prediscursively--we're always already subjects. The displacement, from identity to the child singing in the dark, opens a space for play; D+G can talk about identity in creative and useful ways, all the while seeming to be discussing music.

That's more or less why I don't use D+G to talk about minimalism. Though I suppose it might be interesting... I am going to be talking a bit about subjectivity... Maybe I can use them to refute Jameson?

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