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.”
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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.

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.

Recon Club – Austin’s Lectures

I have limited myself to write these blog posts focusing on one text through one day (see my previous post), and the day I had time for it this time was while sitting on a train without my computer at hand, so under here you can find links to my handwritten notes. I tried to make them as understandable as possible.

I found Austin’s book How To Do Things With Words systematical, but a bit too general. However I couldn’t point my finger to why it felt so, until I started glancing through Limited Inc and saw Derrida problematize “communication” as such, and then the whole language theory of Austin seemed a little too simplified in it’s view of reality, a bit like in the Dilbert comic strip over. But it can’t be underestimated however that Austin makes some very good points in the same way that Dilbert in Scott Adams’s cartoon does it, dry and witty, with Derrida’s self counscious problematizating viewpoint on the other side of the table. One thing I really found interesting in the pages I read quckly through in Limited Inc (I will not anticipate the course of events, I am going to read the whole text in that book later and make an entiteled one day-blog post about it, this is just an important digression) was something Derrida wrote in his opening remarks about the concept of “communication”:

Screen drop from Limited Inc on Google Books.

Screen drop from Limited Inc on Google Books.

When reading this I came to think about an example in which communication functions somewhat in this way. I thought about my fascination for jewish culture, which takes place in an indirect manner. It’s not like I’m celebrating jewish passover or travel to Israel once a year, nor that I read lots of jewish literature or books concentrating on judaism and jews’s position in world history or contemporary affairs. It’s more like I have a intuition on some characterizations of jewhish individuals; for instance I can like a film written and / or directed by a jew but with non-jews in the main roles, like the film 2001: A Space Oddysey. On the other hand I can like films written and directed by non-jews, but with a jew in one of the leading roles, which is the case with the film The Thin Red Line from 1998. Sean Penn, whom’s father was jewish, plays Edward Welsh. One get an impression of Welsh’s character in these lines from the film:

First Sgt. Edward Welsh: Hey Witt, who you making trouble for today?
Private Witt: What do you mean?
First Sgt. Edward Welsh: Well, isn’t that what you like to do? Turn left when they say go right. Why are you such a trouble maker Witt?
Private Witt: You care about me? Don’t ya Sergeant? I always felt like you did. One day I come up and talk to ya. Then the next day it’s like we never even met. Lonely house now, you ever get lonely?
First Sgt. Edward Welsh: Only around people.
Private Witt: Only around people.
First Sgt. Edward Welsh: You still believin in the beautiful light are ya? How do you do that? You’re a magician to me.
Private Witt: I still see a spark in you.

film animated GIF

It’s probably this spark, which some people have called “this inner drive” (“this inner drive comes not from the years of education or any other sort of conditional factors, but because of the inner spark within each Jew” (http://bit.ly/1JBAn08)) I see too, weather it’s in a grandious work of art as with Kubrick’s 2001: A Space oddysey, which Arthur C. Clarke described in this way in the process of making it: “a work of art which would arouse the emotions of wonder, awe … even, if appropriate, terror”, or it is the self assure brave (maybe necessary) cheeky character of first Sgt. Edwar Welsh. This is more like “a passage or opening”, to use Derrida’s formulation, and not something one can communicate in clear words. I’m sure you can provide plenty of other examples yourself which describes similar phenomena; with film, literature, relations and experiences from the shock value of extraordinary events to the repetitative atmospere of everyday life, which can be about anything; religion, emotions, memory, death. In my case it seems to derive from a fascination on jews (by the way I’m not jewish myself, I sometimes compare my situation to Kramer’s in Seinfeld who neither is jewish by birthright, but has adopted their culture because “I agree with the concepts and the religious beliefs of Judaism and I’ve adopted Judaism as my religion,” in my case: change “agree” with “am curious about”, “Judaism” to “jews in arts and culture” and “religion” to “muse”).

Next post will be about Derrida’s text «Signature Event Context» and published sometime during September.

Samples About Frank O’Hara

From http://nieveroja.colostate.edu/issue4/ohara.htm

O’Hara’s attempt to dismantle dominant ideologies about life and dominant assumptions about art, is, in a sense, a deconstructive mode. In other words, by working within the realm of the ordinary, with the language that we all think, act, construct and communicate with, but somehow outside of convention (by virtue of its slang and colloquialism and therefore critical of it), O’Hara finds and reveals the extraordinary. He is eccentric, yet entirely common; he is outside of ‘approved’ language, yet completely immersed in the language of everyday life. This is not to suggest that deconstruction is some kind of methodology, which is used by O’Hara, but rather that he actively engages in an investigation of language, culture and reality that parallels (and possibly precedes and foreshadows) Foucauldian-analysis and Derridean-deconstruction. In a sense, O’Hara seems to wear a similar “lens” that correlates to ideas similarly put forth in contemporary literary criticism that undermines and subverts metaphor, meaning, and originary/natural conceptions of reality. For example, in another poem, titled Poem, he writes the following:

All the mirrors in the world
don’t help, nor am I movedby the calm emergence of my
image in the rain, it is not

I who appears or imagines. See,
if you can, if you can make

the unpleasant trip, the
house where shadows of my own

childhood are watered and forced
like overgrown blugeons, you

must look, for I cannot. I
cannot face that fearful usage (Poems 39)

Like no other poet, he makes the seemingly mundane, day to day, conversations, images, behavior, and activities something that are worth not only art, but something to keep us living, day in and day out. In a statement for The New American Poetry, O’Hara writes, “I am mainly preoccupied with the world as I experience it, and at times when I would rather be dead the thought that I could never write another poem has so far stopped me. I think this is an ignoble attitude. I would rather die for love, but I haven’t.” (Poems 500) In the simplicity of daily things, actions and interactions, O’Hara finds beauty, solace, despair, truth, anguish, and love, but, again, in a form which remains ‘consistently inconsistent’ (sic Aristotle). “Lunch is as important as love,” to O’Hara, suggests Ashbery.  Kenneth Koch has similar sentiments when he writes the following about O’Hara, “You get the feeling, reading Frank O’Hara, that anything and everything you think or see or feel can be put in a poem and it will work out right. He seems to write from the middle of all these things, before they have been divided into subjects and ideas, while they are still a part of ordinary unsorted-out days.”

O’Hara’s poems sound so much like conversation that you cannot help but be engaged. What is also interesting, in Koch’s assessment, is the idea of writing “in the middle” of things. O’Hara is interested, in a Derridean sense, in that which exists between the meaning of words and the word itself, between word and word, and finally between sign and signified. His poetry is a provocation for this reason; his words are like the everyday rambling mind, i.e. existing without cognition of the differences that create the words as they are being spoken/written, but are produced nonetheless, and with a consistent voice that seems to belong in every moment, space and gesture it occupies. O’Hara’s poems are controlled distraction or conscious digression. O’Hara’s trick, in a Derridean sense, problemitizes representation and the entire issue of the origins of meaning, and, in fact, any concept of the originary. O’Hara does not reject the Romantic sensibility of Coleridge and others, but rather, works within it and thereby subverts it. Charles Jencks defines postmodernism in a way that reflects almost precisely this strategy that is so prevalent in O’Hara’s work: “Post-Modernism . . . (is, in part) double coding – the combination of modern techniques with something else” (Jencks 29). Jencks stresses how this connects to Derrida’s notion of differance and the intense commitment to pluralism, which again is clearly evidenced in O’Hara’s work.

Screen Shot from Micha Mattix's book: Frank O'Hara and the Poetics of Saying 'I'

Screen Shot from Micha Mattix’s book: Frank O’Hara and the Poetics of Saying ‘I’

Note To Self: Derridada

From Amazon: “Jacques Derrida said that deconstruction ‘takes place everywhere.’ Derridada reexamines the work of artist Marcel Duchamp as one of these places. Tucker suggests that Duchamp belongs to deconstruction as much as deconstruction belongs to Duchamp. Both bear the infra-thin mark of the other. He explores these marks through the themes of time and diffZrance, language and the readymade, and the construction of self-identity through art. This book will be of interest to students and scholars interested in Modernism and the avant-garde. It will be useful for undergraduate students of art history, modernism, and critical theory, as well as for graduate students of philosophy, visual culture studies, and art theory.”