Memories For Paul de Man From Isle of Man

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Beck And Radiohead: Preliminary Material For A Realisation of a Conceptual Recipe #1

As I presented it in my previous post, I’m doing a deconstrucitve conceptual piece with the following recipe: Retype all the lyrics from Beck’s album Sea Change and Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool in chronological order of the track lists, the oldest album first. Deconstruct the parts of the lyrics which you can interpret to be about break ups, thus pointing to the différance – as you coin the term – between the concept of break ups in the two albums.

To begin with the part where I coin the term différance, I here quote the paragraphs which Kenneth Goldsmith did when he sang Derrida, as a foundational resource of an analysis which recognizes that even an deconstructive explanation has to end somewhere (it’s short lines in the quote because that’s how they are when you quote from Of Grammatology in the document at monoskop and I don’t bother erasing all the line shifts. Besides, it seems more objectivist that way, and that I like):

“The
thesis
of the
arbitrariness
of the
sign
(so grossly
misna
med,
and
not
only
for the
reasons
Saussure
himself
recognizes
)
8
must
forbid
a radical
distinction
between
the
linguistic
and
the
graphic
sign
. No
dou
bt
this
thesis
concerns
only
the
necessity
of
relationships
between
specific
sig­
nifiers
and
signifieds
within
an
allegedly
natural
relationship between
the
voice
and
sense
in general,
between
the
order
of phonic
signifiers
and the
content
of the
signifieds
(“the
only
natural bond, the
only
true
bond, the
bond
of soun
d”). Only
these
relationships
between
specific
signifiers
and
signifie
ds would
be
regulated
by
arbitrariness.
Within
the
“na
tural”
rela­
tionship
between
phon
ic signifiers
and
their
signi
fieds
in general,
the
rela­
tionship
between
each
determined
signifier
and
its determined
signified
would
be “arbitrary.”
Now
from
the
moment
that
one
considers
the
totality
of determined
signs,
spoken,
and
a fortiori written,
as unmotivated
inst
itutions,
one must
exclude
any
relationship
of natural
subordination,
any
natural
hierarchy
among
signifie
rs or orders
of signifie
rs. If “writing”
signifies
inscr
iption
and
especially
the
durable
institution
of a sign
(and
that is the only
irreducible
kernel
of
the
concept
of writing
), writing
in
general
covers
the
entire
field
of linguist
ic signs.
In that field
a certain
sort
of inst
ituted
signifiers
may
then
appear,
“graphic”
in the
narrow
and
derivative
sense
of the
word,
ordered
by
a certain
relationship
with
other
inst
itut
ed-hence
“written
,”
even
if they
are “phonic”
-sig
nifie
rs. The
very
idea of inst
itution-hence
of
the
arbitrariness
of the
sign-is
unthinkable
before
the
possi
bilit
y of writing
and
out
side
of its horizon
. Quit
e simply,
that
is, outside
of the
horizon
itself,
outside
the
world
as space
of
insc
ription,
as
the
opening
to
the
emission
and
to the
spatial
distri
bution
of signs,
to the
regulated
play
of
their
differences,
even
if they are
“ph
onic.”
Let
us now
persist
in using this
opposition
of nature
and
institution,
of
physis
and
nomos
(which
also means,
of course,
a distribution
and
division
regulated
in fact
by
law)
which
a meditation
on
writing
should
disturb al-
Linguistics and
Grammatol
ogy
45
though
it functions
everywhere
as self-evident,
particularly
in the
disc
ourse
of linguistics.
We
must
then
conclude
that
only
the signs
called
natur
al,
those that
Hegel
and
Saussure
call
“symbols,”
escape
semiology
as gram­
matology.
But
they
fall
a fortiori
out
side
the
field
of linguistics
as the
region
of general
semiology.
The
thesis of
the
arbitrariness
of the
sign thus
indi­
rectly
but
irrevocably
contests
Saussur
e’s
declared
proposition when
he
chases
writing
to the
outer
darkness
of language.
This
thesis
successfully
accounts
for
a conventional
relationship between
the
phoneme
and
the
grapheme
(in phon
etic
writing,
between
the
phoneme,
signifi
er-sig
nified,
and
the
grapheme,
pure
signifier
), but
by
the same
token
it forbids
that
the
latter
be
an “i
mage”
of the
former.
Now
it was
indispensable
to the
exclusion
of
writing
as
“external
system,
” th
at
it come to
impose
an
“image,
” a
“representa
ton,”
or a “figurat
ion,”
an
exterior
reflection
of the
reality
of language.
It matters
little,
here at least,
that
there
is in fact
an
ideographic
filia­
tion
of the
alphab
et. This
important
question
is much
debated
by historians
of writing.
”’hat
matters
here
is that in
the
synchr
onic
structure
and syste­
matic
principle
of alphabetic
writing-and
phonetic
writing
in general­
no
relationship
of “natur
al”
representation,
none
of resemblance
or par­
ticipation,
no
“symbolic”
relationship
in
the
Hegelian-Saussurian
sense
,
no
“iconographic”
relationship
in the
Peircian
sense,
be
implied.
One
must
therefore
challenge,
in the
very
name
of the
arbitrariness
of
the
sign
, the
Saussurian
definit
ion
of writing
as “image”-he
nce as natural
symbol-of
language.
Not
to mentio
n the
fact
that
the
phoneme
is the
unimaginable
itself,
and
no
visibility
can
resemble
it, it su
ffices
to take
into
account
what Saussur
e says
about
the
difference
between
the
symbol
and
the
sign
(p.
101
)
[pp
.
68-6<)]
in order
to be
completely
baffie
d as to how
he can
at the
sam
e time
say of
writing
that it is an
“image”
or “figuration”
of language
and
define
language
and
writing
elsewhere
as “two
distinct
systems
of signs”
(p. 45) [po
2
3
]’ For
the
property
of the
sign
is not
to be
an image
. By
a pro
cess
exposed
by
Freud
in
The
Interpretati
on of Dreams,
Saussure
thus
accumulates
contradictory
arguments
to bring
about
a satis­
facto
ry decisi
on: the
exclusion
of writing.
In
fact
,
even
within
so-called
phonetic
writing,
the
“graphic”
signifier
refers
to the
phoneme
through
a
web
of many
dimensions
which
binds
it, like all
signifiers,
to other
written
and
oral
signifiers,
within
a “total” system open,
let
us say,
to all
possible
investments
of sense.
We
must
begin
with
the
possibility
of that
total
syste
m.
Saussure
was
thus never able
to think
that writing
was
truly
an
“image,”
a “figur
ation,”
a “represen
tation”
of the spoken
language,
a symbol.
If one
considers
that
he
non
etheless
needed
these
inadequate
not
ions
to decide
upon
the
exteriority
of writing,
one
must
conclude
that
an
entire
stratum
of his
discourse,
the
intention of
Chapter
VI
(“Graphic
Representation
of Language”
), was
not
at all scienti
fic.
\Vhen
I say
this,
my
quarry
is n
ot
46
Part
I:
Writing
before
the Letter
prima
rily
Ferdinand
de
Saussur
e’s
intentio
n or motivation,
but
rather
the
entire
uncritical
tradition
which
he inherits.”

Beck’s Sea Change and Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool: A Conceptual Recipe

Retype all the lyrics from Beck’s album Sea Change and Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool in chronological order of the track lists, the oldest album first. Deconstruct the parts of the lyrics which you can interpret to be about break ups, thus pointing to the différance – as you coin the term – between the concept of break ups in the two albums.

The Other’s Facebook as God’s Trace

It is in the trace of the other that a facebook shines: what is pre­sented there is absolving itself from my life and visits me as al­ready ab-solute. Someone has already passed. His
trace does not signify his past, as it does not signify his labor or his enjoy­ ment in the
world; it is a disturbance imprinting itself (we are tempted to say engraving itself)
with an irrecusable gravity….The God who passed is not the model of which the facebook
would be an image. To be in the image of God does not mean to be an icon of God, but to find oneself in his trace. The revealed God of our Judeo-Christian spirituality main­ tains all the infinity of his absence, which is in the personal “order” itself. He shows himself
only by his trace, as is said in Exodus 33.

Convolute G: Poet Stephen Ratcliffe’s mentions of Heidegger

blond woman on phone planning to mail Heidegger’s Basic Writings back to man at kitchen table, adding black to the painting of the yard
Derrida believing “there’s a future which is predictable,”
noting that Heidegger and Hegel erase their private lives
from their work, “speech is what’s taking place right here”
Heidegger wondering why we “forget the subjectivity that belongs behind every objectivity,” woman on left claiming that truth in Greek connotes revelation

«Reading sound (shape-in-air) of poem as acoustic phenomena (in air, heard by ear), one hears the syllable, word, line (and line break), stanza unit, whole poem determined by the poem’s shape on the page, its physical presence (seen by eye) as letters written/composed/transcribed on the page into words, there to be perceived by the human (reader) when the poem is read aloud (or silently, thereby entering the mind’s ear as sound only imagined).»

(Picture under from same source: http://jacket2.org/article/reading-sound)

A Note In Deconstructing Dawkins on Skavlan

Transcript from the talk show Skavlan December 4th 2015:

Linn Ullmann (norwegian author): «Do you believe in grace? Something as in music or…»

Richard Dawkins: «What do you mean by “grace”?»

Ullmann: «I’d like to know what you mean by it.»

Dawkins: «I don’t, I don’t use the word.»

Ullmann: «Is that a word that is not even in your vocabulary?»

Dawkins: «No, it isn’t, but I don’t want you to get away with saying that Bach sort of belong to the supernatural, because Bach wrote beautiful music, inspired by religion, which I apresiate as much as anybody else, I mean I adore Bach, I don’t want anybody to get away with the sort of thought that an atheist can not apreciate the great art, the great music, the great poetry of the world. Far from it! We can, we do.»

(Applause in audience)

End of transcript.

I have marked in bold the part of the transcript where Dawkins instead of continuing on Ullmanns derivation of the word «grace» in music Dawkins plays on with the phonic signifier of music itself, claiming that atheists can enjoy the art of the phonic signifiers. He get touched by music, by a signifier that comes silently from the sheet music through the ear and into the soul, or in Dawkin’s terminology: the gene for enjoying music. I think it’s interesting how language fall short in describing the experience of the thing that with the linguistic signs is called «grace», and how it kind of flows into music.

Beck Against The Tide of Modernity

The music video for Beck’s song Heart Is A Drum opens with a sketchy image of a person on a road. We then see the singer by a house, he seem to be both on the inside and outside, looking in the window from the garden and looking out the window from the other side. This reminds me of Margitte’s painting In Praise of Dialectics which is meant to show that the inside of a house is always connected with the outside, like with anything else: philosophy, concepts, literature and so on.

Rene Margitte, In Praise of Dialectics (source: http://www.wikiart.org/en/rene-magritte/in-praise-of-dialectics-1937)

Rene Margitte, In Praise of Dialectics (source: http://www.wikiart.org/en/rene-magritte/in-praise-of-dialectics-1937)

After this the video depicts various and shifting images: a boy on a road, Beck and a man walking next to him, the shadow of Beck on a wall, the boy from the road by the house (also both inside and outside, when on the inside flipping a curtain up and down on the window), at this point the lyrics of the song has come to the lines about time: “Your Heart is a drum keeping time with everyone”. The line right before also has connotations to the concept of time: “You’ve lost your tongue when you fall from the pendulum”. We also find hints to this in the video: a silhouette of something that looks like a clock, one of these old tall ones, standing on the floor. And then Beck leaves the house, he’s spotted some strange creatures dressed up like in clothes and helmets looking like a crossing of astronauts and beekeepers.

Still from the music video to Beck's Heart Is A Drum. On the wall you can see an painting which seems to be of Virgin Mary and Jesus.

Still from the music video to Beck’s Heart Is A Drum. On the wall you can see a painting which seems to be of Virgin Mary and Jesus.

I took the title for this post from a book entitled Romanticism Against The Tide of Modernity. There Michael Löwy and Robert Sayre writes about the romantic tradition in literature, art, protest movements and so on, claiming it’s not limited to a style of writing or painting, but a way of thought. Following the line of Marx they claim that romanticism always since the rise of capitalism has been here as it’s shadow, a criticism and force against it’s domination on modern life. Romanticism claims that something has been lost, but exactly what? Löwy and Sayre asks, and answers also: We have to look at it’s values to circle in that. These values are among other things community and the individual value of each human being (but not like capitalistic individualism which tells everyone that they can be superstars and by that gives broadcasting companies and advertisers lots of money on talent shows and things like that). In a podcast I just listened to Beck talks about the value of old folk songs and the way of thinking about music in the folk scene. He highlights the camaraderie among musicians and underlining it’s importance in creating new music. He talks about Record Club and Newport. All this are factors that places him in the romantic tradition I sketched up over here.

The cover of the book Romanticism Against The Tide of Modernity by Michael Löwy and Robert Sayre

The cover of the book Romanticism Against The Tide of Modernity by Michael Löwy and Robert Sayre

Now, lets go back to the video: Beck has left the house and enters a small cabin. We then see a glimpse of a light haired woman waking up (“High as the light of day” he sings now). Inside the cabin there are collages of pictures on the walls, Beck walks over to an image of a woman and her baby dressed up in the style of Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. He touches it softly.

The scene shifts to a priest looking man holding the light haired woman in his arms while wind blows through their hairs and clothes. (“Falling down across your lost highway” Beck sings now, with reference to Hank Williams old song). Back to Beck and his image on the wall, still touching it softly, lifting his head to the left. Outside on a field the man with the scythe appears, and the woman falls to the ground. After this Beck walks off again, we can see images of him crossed with scenes with the creatures I’ve mentioned: the priest, the woman, the man with the scythe. A new person has arrived: a little girl holding flowers. She stands next to the priest while the man with the scythe comes towards them (he has been pointing his fingers straight into the viewer a couple of times now, while Beck has been walking fast straight ahead, making it seem like his pointing at him, or at me who looks at the video. The woman appears in the same camera shot as Beck, and now the beekeepers appears. Now and then we see shadows on walls, glimpses of Beck’s face looking like these ads of phantom rising that has been circulating on the internet lately. He’s always searching, walking through houses and forests, trying to see what we can’t see: angel like creatures, death, places which is outside of time.

In Edmund Husserl’s Origin of Geometry: An Introduction, Derrida examinates Husserl’s philosophy on science. He begins with a walkthrough to Husserl’s views on geometry and historicity, and Derrida doesn’t seem to have any problems with his conclusions:

“Pure-interconnections-of history, apriori-thought-of history, does this not mean that these possibilities are not in themselves historical ? Not at an , for they are nothing but the possibilities of the appearance of history as such, outside which there is nothing. History itself establishes the possibility of its own appearing.”

“The paradox is that, without the apparent fall back into language and thereby into history , a fall which would alienate the ideal purity of sense , sense wou ld re main an empirical formation imprisoned as fact in a psychological subjectivity-in the inventor’ s head. Historical incarnation sets free the transcendental, instead of binding it.”

The word became a man, the Bible says. The word of truth. Merry Christmas!