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!

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The Bright Side of Deconstruction

Derrida meme

In the previous post I wrote about what I find to be some uncanny parts of deconstruction. In this post I’ll quote from one of the most inspiring essays by Derrida that I’ve read so far, and a much brighter one, as I see it. Here he writes about Levinas’ philosophy, and the ethical respect for the otherness of the other, and the otherness of the origin of the trace that is outside being, before any human questioning about being, the turning towards light and clarity through the difference of shades of brightness, with references to i.e. Plato. The essay is titled Violence And Metaphysics from the book Writing and Difference (from 1967, the year deconstruction broke). I’ll comment on the quote later. In this essay there’s also some beautiful quotes on metaphors and language, a more beautiful and poetic way to put deconstruction as I see it. But here’s the first quote:

“Without intermediary and without communion, absolute proximity and absolute distance: “eros in which, within the proximity to the other, distance is integrally maintained; eros whose pathos is made simultaneously of this proximity and this duality.” A community of nonpresence, and therefore of nonphenomenality. Not a community without light, not a blindfolded synagogue, but a community anterior to Platonic light. A light before neutral light, before the truth which arrives as a third party, the truth “which we look toward together,” the judgmental arbitrator’s truth. Only the other, the totally other, can be manifested as what it is before the shared truth, within a certain nonmanifestation and a certain absence. It can be said only of the other that its phenomenon is a certain nonphenomenon, its presence (is ) a certain absence. Not pure and simple absence, for there logic could make its claim, but a certain  absence. Such a formulation shows clearly that within this experience of the other the logic of noncontradiction, that is, everything which Levinas designates as “formal logic,” is contested in its root. This root would be not only the root of our language, but the root of all of Western philosophy,20  particularly phenomenology and ontology. This naïveté would prevent them from thinking the other (that is from thinking; and this would indeed be the reason why, although Levinas, “the enemy of thought,” does not say so), and from aligning their discourse with the other. The consequence would be double. (a) Because they do not think the other, they do not have time. Without time, they do not have history. The absolute alterity of each instant, without which there would be no time, cannot be produced—constituted—within the identity of the subject or the existent. It comes into time through the Other. Bergson and Heidegger would have overlooked this (De l’existence à l’existent  [hereafter EE ]), and Husserl even more so. (b) More seriously, to renounce the other (not by being weaned from it, but by detaching oneself from it, which is actually to be in relation to it, to respect it while nevertheless overlooking it, that is, while knowing it, identifying it, assimilating it), to renounce the other is to enclose oneself within solitude (the bad solitude of solidity and self-identity) and to repress ethical transcendence.”

Writing and Difference, pages 112-113

One can’t have deconstruction without situationism

I had this debate with a friend on objectivity in science. She had read about it and didn’t believe in it. I argued with Husserl’s geometry but she didn’t care for it, arguing for a weakness in my opinion, stressing that maths is something else. I didn’t know what to say and couldn’t think of it before afterwards, when she was gone, that we were talking about two different things; theory of science versus phenomenology.

Anyway, I have come to this: one can’t have deconstruction without situationism. This is Debord:

The two sides of the end of culture–in all the aspects of knowledge as well as in all the aspects of perceptible representations exist in a unified manner in what used to be art in the most general sense. In the case of knowledge, the accumulation of branches of fragmentary knowledge, which become unusable because the approval of existing conditions must finally renounce knowledge of itself, confronts the theory of praxis which alone holds the truth of them all since it alone holds the secret of their use. In the case of representations, the critical self-destruction of society’s former common language confronts its artificial recomposition in the commodity spectacle, the illusory representation of the non-lived.

And maybe not without the fun of american contra-spectacular movements.

Aside

Sorry About The Mess – Husserlian Murakami, Weak Internet And Touchphone

However she is intense and Tengo can’t grasp her apperance. This chapter of 1Q84 presents some productive husserlian images of differented representation of life through the integrated necessity of death in the signifiers.

The third chapter of Murakami’s latest novel didn’t seem very significant. The plot resembeled a pulp fiction, so I don’t have much to say about that for now. Probably it’s important anyway, so I make a mental note about it.

Aomame has arrived at a hotel where she find a man that she for superficial reasons kills. It’s probably a history here, and it will hopefully be filled out and explained later.

 

Chapter 4 is something else for sure. Tengo meets the girl who’s written the novel he is supposed to rewrite. They’re conversation looks like it’s derived from Husserl’s Origin of GeometryThe form, not the meaning, it’s like he wants to squeeze out an ideality of meaning in an ideality of form that Fukaeri does not appreciate. When Fukaeri talk she is flat in her voice, almost dead, with no sign of tonality. 

Fukaeri, the girl who’s written the novel he is supposed to rewrite. They’re conversation when Tengo’s passionate statements about mathematics looks like it’s derived from Husserl’s Origin of Geometry. The math is something that just is there, objecti