Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Miniature I

I know you're supposed to have footage of yourself in your bedroom when you do this, but sod off... This is a thematic improvisation from a few weeks ago.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Dr. Lacan's Being of Shame (II)

Well, what I meant to say, is...

Posted below we a have a homophonic french pun on ontologie, about 20 odd years prior to the popular one that we've all been discussing to the point of exhaustion. This is only really significant as a curio, but it does open out into issues with Lacan that I have...

What is it exactly that Lacan did? It is facile to state that Lacan analysed those who attended his seminaire or who read his écrits, but what he certainly was not doing was teaching them. An object like Dylan Evans' Lacanian Dictionary is not necessarily oxymoronic, but utterly misguided, for to treat Lacanian Psychoanalysis as if it was a curriculum, with credits that can be earned by memorising information is surely so far from the point as to be obscene. But then, the opposite is not the case, as Lacan wasn't merely sharpening the minds of his audience with difficulty for difficulty's sake. His work is not an example of itself, an argument I've sometimes resorted to when trying to explain his (and Derrida's) worth to laypeople (as contrasted with inept autodidacts like myself), but then of course, everyones an autodidact when it comes to Lacan.

The seminars I quoted from below are the most interesting Lacanian work I've read, with the diagrams of the four discourses, Master's, Analyst's, Hysteric's and then also the discourse of the University, the discussion of which makes for some of the most illuminating of Lacan's texts. He seems to have really believed that analysis provided something really other to the different discourses, which he talks of in terms of desire, but can also be thought of as power structures. Against the revolutionaries and agitators of his time, who it would seem were, in Lacan's eyes, accepting all to readily an already existing framework of power and knowledge, he insisted that psychoanalysis provided a glimpse of something truly radical. But then what would the glimpse be of, precisely? Perhaps it has something to do with analysis itself, not necessarily of the psyche. Uncovering a blind, godless knowledge known as science, that nevertheless cannot function without a leap of faith (and what is Meillassoux but the attempted renunciation of said faith in materialism?), Lacan sees knowledge as in the service of the University, in fact, as the University's desire, endlessly reproducing this knowledge and the mastery that is its truth.

But then, Lacan is strangely static and dynamic at the same time. If his idea of analysis as radicality, as the only radicality, holds, then it is obvious that radicality, in this system, can only ever be marginal, peripheral, and in a preemptive echo of bad deconstruction; always already at work. But the possibility of analysis emerges from a contingent historical process, the structures of intersubjectivity that do not exist for most animals, and did not exist for us in the same way until recently, in fact, may not even exist in the same way now. For does the University as we know it still conform to the University that Lacan speaks of (A University that was exemplary of the University discourse)? I'm not sure. But I wager that in Lacan one can find a lot that is fundamental to the structures of thinking that is perhaps not particularly useful as medicinal doctrine (the cry of 'where are his case studies?' - Lacan is not medicine, but neither is it homeopathy), or even education, but that helps to illuminate the desires behind thinking, understood as a practice.

Ubuweb have a fascinating collection of recordings of Lacan's Seminars. I had never really understood exactly how they were delivered- slowly, deliberately, and more than a little pompously.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Dr. Lacan's Being of Shame

It does have to be said that it is unusual to die of shame.

This visiting card never arrives at the right destination, the reason being that for it to bear the address of death, the card has to be torn up. “It’s a shame [une honte],” as they say, which should produce a (h)ontology [hontologie] spelled properly at last.

Being ashamed of not dying from this would perhaps introduce another tone to it, that with which the real is concerned. I said the real and not the truth for, as I already explained to you last time, it’s a temptation to suck the milk of truth, but it’s toxic. It will put you to sleep, and that’s all that’s expected of you.

for if you want your remarks to be subversive, you must take great care that they don’t get too bogged down on the path to truth.

The S1, the master signifier which holds the secret to knowledge in the university situation, is very tempting to stick to. You remain caught up in it.

Today I have brought you the dimension of shame. It is not a comfortable thing to put forward. It is not one of the easiest things to speak about. This is perhaps what it really is, the hole from which the master signifier arises. If it were, it might perhaps not be useless for measuring how close one has to get to it if one wants to have anything to do with the subversion, or even just the rotation, of the master’s discourse.

Lacan's Seminars, Book XVII, 17th June 1970

Monday, 22 September 2008

Wandering the Wharf

In honour of the current immaterial turmoil, we went a-wandering, looking for material evidence. We were accompanied by Lady Vergeht and the textual ghost of a certain Mr. Pevsner. Our journey began on the new 135 bus route, which links Crossharbour and Old Street, and conveniently passes E&V HQ (oh, where you three years ago, oh great five minute shordeditch-doorstep link?).

The square in which this fellow sits was a good four degrees colder than its surroundings; perhaps his mood had affected the microclimate. Below his face there runs a channel, totally dry upon our visit. It is conceivable that he has cried himself out. (Also note the Neo-Classicism, the defining cultural motif of the entire area).

Day in, day out, he stares at this glass wall, until either it or he goes.

This chap has been trapped in a forcefield created by the overwhelming symmetry of the Beaux-Arts planning of the area. SOM employ corporate magicians to generate conservative ley-lines.

This totem is where the dark energy of the area emanates from. The use of stainless steel cladding is supposed to be a nod to British Hi-Tech, despite the crassness of the Pomo form. Note Pelli's buildings for the WTC in New York. It must be said that perhaps it was the best decision - pink marble would have been a sickening sight, almost too much to take. This is also, of course, Robinson's memorial to Rimbaud.

Lynn Chadwick contradicted our sexual assumptions, by revealing himself to have been a man. His figures refuse to face either the totem, or the vacuous Louis Sullivan pastiches in the background.

This abandoned cafe gave a tantalising suggestion of what may one day become of the wharf, inshallah.

The end of history.

This is the infamous Slug & Lettuce, home to braying hordes every Friday evening, recently scene of much deserved consternation, though probably not nearly enough revelation.

The only thing even remotely interesting about this sculpture is its asymmetry and off-axis positioning. It seems to act as a transgressive supplement, the breaking of the rule that allows the rule to function ever more efficiently. Otherwise it is another boring example of both a maker of small objects making a large small object, and the mistaken conflation of structural daring with sculptural content.

Outside the Foster & Partner's HSBC building, a piece of architecture remarkable in its seemingly infinite dullness, a pair of lions sit, identical to those that guard the building's Hong Kong counterpart. This one is off limits - perhaps it has sensed weakness amongst the passing bankers and has made moves to pick them off? Or maybe a despairing broker tried to feed themselves to it?

Another Neo-Classical object, this centaur wonders why it was considered witty to create him without arms, as if they had fallen off in a non-existent period following antiquity, when he was made of marble.

25 Bank street, until last week home of Lehman Brothers, sat silently and opaquely in the cold sun. There were no stains on the ground, no signs of violence. The Barcelona chairs still sat in the lobby, waiting...

And we waited a while too, but nobody jumped (it was the weekend, after all).

At first glance we thought this represented a moebius band, but it has two 'faces'. The dedication plaque in the centre reads; "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

On the 9th of February, 1996 the IRA exploded a bomb at this exact location, killing two newsagents, who had not been evacuated in time, and causing £85 million worth of damage.

The following building will be explained in the words of its architect; John Outram.

My proposal is that Architecture can not be derived from 'dwelling' in any banal, roses-round-the-door, 'domestic' sense. To make such a reduction is a mark of what J.P.Sartre characterised as "l'homme, moyen, sensuel". Architecture is the diametric opposite of such well-upholstered, 19C, flaccidities. It is, instead, the making ourselves 'at-home' in the Kosmos. Architecture, and its only 'serious' purpose on a scale larger than the single project, is to build a general, large and civic lifespace that sets us, paltry humans, 'comfortably' situated within the Cosmos.

The source of the 'river of time and space' rises in its characteristic icon of a cave set within two mountains. This is the circular fan situated between two halves of the pediment - that have been deliberately split to register their division. From here the river flows downwards -registered by the blue (watery) bricks split by strips of lighter yellow. This river flows between the giant trees of the forest (nave) embodied by the main capitals with their foliate capitals. The forest, in its turn, is flanked by the enclosing 'battered' walls of sedimented brick which embody the 'mountains' that finally define the Vallery of Community, that is the ultimate spatial figure of the Architectural medium - equivalent to the dominating Vitruvian function of 'Commoditas'.

Having 'tumbled' down its 'valley' the 'river of space' passes under the 'gateway' to the Valley - embodied by the exaggerated white masonry surrounding the dark green entrance door. From there it flows outwards, towards the gate to Stewart Street, or the river Thames on the side of the 'levee'. It was not practical to inscribe the figure of the 'delta' which lies outside the 'gateway-door into the building'. Nor could either the street, or the River, be inscribed with the figure of infinity with which one may recall their 'bounding' identity as the 'death of the valley of community' by dispersion into the Ocean

We confined our work on the Vitruvian dimension of 'Venustas' - or the 'conceptual environment', on the outside. Even so, when the structure, whose iconography we have so engineered, is merely a large shed whose sole physical purpose is to pump dirty water from storm overflow sewers back up into the river Thames. One may well ask "What, then, is the legitimacy of our 'display'?

A simple answer, not entirely without weight in a 'free country' is that Ted Hollamby, Chief Architect-Planner of the LDDC, sole authority at that early time of its development, wanted it. Prime Minister Thatcher, with her drive to suppress all forms of 'government' decreed that the LDDC would only build infrastructures - roads, sewers and so on. It would not be allowed to 'express' its suspect 'liberal' and by implication Socialistic, culture by building anything above ground. The Isle of Dogs would be a monument to the ethic of 'commercialisation'. The three Pumping Stations were Ted Hollamby's only chance to introduce some 'quality'to the gruesome diet of British Developer's Drivel that marked the early years of Docklands.

There are still hints of a past here, it pays to leave artifacts of previous modes of production, to leave material relics.

We quenched our thirsts in a pub that has gigantic yellow skylons sticking from its roof. It was populated by a strange mix of local red-faced eastenders and two meter tall russian girls who had arrived by speedboat.

An incitement to occupy.

And finally, the walk ended at Robin Hood Gardens, looking strangely dignified in the setting sun.

The estate suffers most from its location. It is flanked to the east, south and west by busy roads, and thus has been hidden behind sound barriers that remind one of Virilio's bunker. But whereas a church has an eschatological link to military outposts, a home doesn't wish to speak 'war'.

As we passed, we surmised that there was a hybrid game of football/tennis going on in the sunken games pit, judging from the balls that flew above the parapet. Perhaps it was a spontaneous counter-unique sport to Eton fives?

The visual language of RHG is interesting, for representing a definite attempt to speak Modernism with a post-Corbusian dialect. The five points do not exist here, and there are no formal references to purism. Whereas most 'Brutalism' speaks fluent Corbu, from bullhorn profiles to shallow concrete vaults to ondulatoires and so on, we have here something not more, nor less ordered, but differently organised.

An atlas ought to be compiled of all the estate maps of London.

The buildings seemed casually indifferent to their uncertain fate.

A typical conversation runs as follows:

A: Modern Architecture is ugly.
B: Why is Modern Architecture ugly?
A: Because concrete is a horrible material.
B: Why is concrete a horrible material?
A: Because it is grey.
B: (Kills self).

And then home, as the sun finally set on what may well have been the last day of the 'summer'.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


Did I just hear George Osborne correctly on Newsnight?

Paxman: When you see institutions short-selling stocks, and thereby aggravating the crisis, what do you feel?

Osborne: Well look, no one takes pleasure from people making money out of the misery of others, but that is a function of capitalist markets.

UPDATE - After consulting BBC iPlayer, I can confirm that the above is verbatim.

UPDATE - Someone has linked to this page, saying the following:

The only problem is that they asked George Osborne to comment, and he said:

"Well look, no one takes pleasure from people making money out of the misery of others, but that is a function of capitalist markets."

Bloody marvelous. Let’s pour bullshit on the mushrooms and encourage them to grow.

The above quote is a gem for anyone wanting to find something to confirm their existing beliefs. I’m not sure what could have possibly been worse. How about “It’s good that babies will starve, because there is no such thing as society”?

Now, it's obvious that Osborne 'mis-spoke', which is why I did him the honour of transcribing his words exactly. But later in this chap's post he describes an exchange between Paxman and Naomi Klein:

Although to cheer us all up, they then got Naomi Klein on. She’s always good for a laugh, is Naomi. After vaguely beating about the bush for a few questions, Paxman lost his patience and asked her, “You sit there, all dolled up in your fancy suit that you bought in a shop, which is capitalist. So what do you want to see put in place of Capitalism?”

Paxman's actual words were:

"Naomi Klein, sure, you speak with all the authority and privilege of a child of a capit.. successful capitalist society. What do you want as an alternative?"

So where did that bit about the fancy suit come from???

Monday, 15 September 2008

Oh, you poor lambs!

Go here, and just try to feel sympathetic.

Some choice morsels:
"It is terrible. Death. It's like a massive earthquake," she said.

"I feel sorry for the managing directors - they were paid about 50% of their bonus in stock, that's been written off."

As some stood around contemplating their fate, huddled in circles or with their mobile phone or BlackBerry glued to their ear, most remained tight-lipped and made a quick exit.

Now, when we can no longer afford to buy any food, and when we can't leave the house because of fascist gangs roaming the streets etc etc, we'll remember to feel sorry for the well meaning people who got us into this mess. It was an accident!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

shameless self promotion

The website is beginning to take shape, there are some explanation-less bits of architecture on there, if you happen to enjoy looking at meaningless bits of digital imagery.

If you were to click on this link however, then you would find that I've been magnanimous enough to offer a selection of 'vignettes' for free download. They are some guitar & electronics ditties that were recorded and mangled in late 2006, when it was probably raining. Please help yourself, and perhaps even enjoy.

Reading list...

I haven't read this yet, but I get the impression that it's probably something I won't be able to find a single fault in. Forget anti-capitalism, we need anti-natalism...
Most people believe that they were either benefited or at least not harmed by being brought into existence. Thus, if they ever do reflect on whether they should bring others into existence---rather than having children without even thinking about whether they should---they presume that they do them no harm. Better Never to Have Been challenges these assumptions. David Benatar argues that coming into existence is always a serious harm. Although the good things in one's life make one's life go better than it otherwise would have gone, one could not have been deprived by their absence if one had not existed. Those who never exist cannot be deprived. However, by coming into existence one does suffer quite serious harms that could not have befallen one had one not come into existence. Drawing on the relevant psychological literature, the author shows that there are a number of well-documented features of human psychology that explain why people systematically overestimate the quality of their lives and why they are thus resistant to the suggestion that they were seriously harmed by being brought into existence. The author then argues for the 'anti-natal' view---that it is always wrong to have children---and he shows that combining the anti-natal view with common pro-choice views about foetal moral status yield a 'pro-death' view about abortion (at the earlier stages of gestation). Anti-natalism also implies that it would be better if humanity became extinct. Although counter-intuitive for many, that implication is defended, not least by showing that it solves many conundrums of moral theory about population.

The only problem with the LHC is that it's only a 1 in 5 million chance...

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Hands Reunited

The one-handed music of Godowsky has its precedents too, and it's only appropriate that it would have been another of the 'composer-pianists', Alkan, who got in there first (there are examples by Czerny prior to Alkan, apparently, but his studies don't really count). His grand etudes, op.76, feature two studies, one for each of the hands on its own, followed by a study for both hands in single note unison. These are pretty damn rare, recorded only a handful of times (including Hamelin, of course), but there's a sparkling little connection that is worth noting. The Grande Etudes were written by Alkan between 1838 and 1840, which coincide with the writing of (Alkan's good friend) Chopin's 2nd sonata, which features a finale written in, of course, single note unison. It's fair to say that they would have known what each other was up to.

This is Rachmaninoff playing the Chopin finale.

And here is a strangely frat-boy rendition of the Alkan, with a false start. (skip to 1:27 to avoid)

Besides the similarities, the Chopin is far more accomplished, as you'd imagine, with a less anchored tonality and a greater dynamic range and scope for rubato, but the Alkan is definitely worth a listen, diabolical and olympian at the same time.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Say my name, say my name...

Bill Morrison - Decasia

That the majority of cultural artefacts described as hauntological consist of sound is linked to the ease with which sound lends itself to conceptions of spectrality and present non-presence. However, this is not to say that there is not the potential for hauntology in other media. In anticipation of the haunto-porn which will soon be taking over the cultural world courtesy of E&V and IT, it is appropriate to turn our attention to Decasia, a film directed by Bill Morrison that bridges the gap between the sonic hauntology so often discussed and the hauntological punctum of the photograph. The punctum is a concept introduced by Roland Barthes in his melancholy meditation on photography, Camera Lucida. As opposed to the studium, which is the objective content of the photograph, the punctum is that which strikes the spectator, that which pierces them, and in Derrida’s words;

‘it is never inscribed in the homogenous objectivity of the framed space but instead inhabits or, rather, haunts it […] We are prey to the ghostly power of the supplement, it is this unlocatable site that gives rise to the Spectre.’

Decasia itself consists of a series of sequences of footage obtained from aged film stock that Morrison himself collected. All of the stock that has been included in the film has undergone severe decay, whether that be scratches, burns, water damage, or simply the disintegration of the acids in the film itself. Now it is obvious here that the work runs the risk of plunging into in some sort of eschatological jouissance, revelling in the ‘beauty of decay’, which functions as a symptom – by investing our knowledge of finitude and disappearance into a ‘ruined’ artefact we make it easier to perpetuate the lie of attainment and ambition. Now of course it cannot transcend it, but Decasia resists the picturesque through a number of methods; it is accompanied by a screechingly dissonant symphony by Douglas Gordon, which sounds like Part's Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten as if it, itself had disintegrated. The hour long film persists; the images keep on appearing, they are never intact but are always refusing to be destroyed, between life and death, suspending time by displaying it all at once. Effects that have been discussed in relation to sonic hauntology are deployed here; there is not a single sequence that unfolds at a recognisably realistic speed, ‘uncannifying’ the footage. Sufi dancers slowly twist around, their joyful worship becomes agonisingly lugubrious, nuns drift slowly in and out of a haze of sunlight which is ever-darkening and in the most celebrated sequence a boxer interminably does battle with an amorphous torrent of visual noise, locked in battle with as close to a positive visual depiction of ‘the void’ it is possible to come. Throughout all of the film cycles keep reappearing, from dancers to spinning wheels, to carousels, to ferris wheels, to film spools. This can be said to be a symbol of rebirth in all death and decay, but I think a more appropriate reading is that these cycles are drive.

In fact, Morrison selectively chose footage that depicted humans engaging in defiantly productive acts, dancing, training, exercising, orating, etc. There are no tears and no mawkish imagery, the point being to stress the disappearance inherent to every last moment of presence. This is almost precisely in tune with Derrida’s messianicity without messianism: the minimal persistence that opens outward in the face of all that is oppressive, that forever insists. This seemingly interminable depiction of drive is what sets Decasia apart from ‘ruininlust’.
The visual hauntology of decasia could be thought of as a way of generating or perhaps even arresting the punctum, conjuring it out of the materiality of the artwork. In fact, I would go so far as to assert that all hauntological production is engaged in a certain séance, attempting to bring forward the punctum, solidify its particular spectra, make it apparent, to diminish the body of the work and allow it to be possessed entirely by the spectre; the impossible limit-condition of hauntological production is creating a work that is entirely punctum.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Schumann - Humoreske, Op.20

On the subject of Zizek and exasperation, In Defense of Lost Causes features the latest arrival of one of Slavoj's favourite (ctrl-c), (ctrl-v) moments, the discussion of the 'inner voice' in Schumann's Humoreske. As far as I can tell, this has appeared in three books and at least one article, in an almost word perfect facsimile.

As you can see above, the score features a third line, an 'inner stimme' which is not to be played, merely implied, in the accentuations of the two given accompaniment parts. Generally it seems that this move is either taken to be a part of the gradual diminishment of the voice in Schumann's work (related to his mental illness) or perhaps a tribute to Clara and one of her works. I'd also like to suggest a possible hidden reference, which is pure conjecture. The Humoreske was composed in 1839, and a few years previously the pianist Sigismond Thalberg was becoming incredibly famous (he was described in 1837 as the leading pianist in Europe), although his star was later eclipsed. Here is a quote from the Oxford Companion to Music:
The impact of Thalberg's playing largely depended on his 'three-handed technique', where a melody played by the thumbs in the middle register of the keyboard is swathed in ornate arpeggiated figuaration in bass and treble, creating the illusion that three hands are required.

Could Schumann have been influenced by, or even been referring to this 'three-handed technique'? I don't know, it's certainly possible. There is an example of Thalberg's technique here.

Now, Zizek describes the first section thus; 'one is thus compelled to (re)construct a third, "virtual" intermediate level [...] which, for structural reasons, cannot be played.' 'Virtual' here is Deleuzian; a set of real properties which have the capacity to be actualised. To me, this is interesting enough in a musicological sense, although I would perhaps suggest that we understand this 'implied' melody in spectral terms - a non-present presence. We can see this effect in hauntology - the memory music of the Caretaker involves a source recording taken to the very threshold of cognition, but it also occurs in jazz - Charlie Parker 'weaving' his way around a standard melody, suggesting it without ever playing it directly. Zizek isn't satisfied with this, however. He wishes to make an additional point, regarding the repeat of the same section later in the piece, this time with no annotated voice:

what is absent here is the absent melody, namely absence itself. How are we to play these notes when, at the level of what is in fact to be played, they exactly repeat the previous notes? [...] The true pianist should thus have the saviour-faire to play the existing, positive notes in such a way that one would be able to discern the echo of the accompanying non-played "silent" virtual notes or their absence ... This, then, is pure difference: the nothing actual, the virtual background, which accounts for the difference of the two melodic lines.

Now, disregarding the usual Zizek sloppiness (surely he means the difference of the two accompaniments?), we should judge this point on two fronts - does it stand up to musical scrutiny, and does it stand up to Deleuzian scrutiny?

pianist: Sviatoslav Richter, the two passages are at 5:29-5:59 and 8:31-8:48

Now, Richter cannot have read the performance notes, for this recording actually features the inner voice being played the first time! So much for the virtual! This is helpful however, so that we can hear what we are not supposed to, so to speak.

pianist: Soojin Ahn, 4:25-5:08 and 7:45-8:40

Here, Soojin Ahn avoids playing the 'inner voice', but she renders the two sections in such a radically different way that we cannot really point to any 'minimal difference' at work. The first section certainly renders the absence palpable, but the second is so slow and hesitant, anticipating the fermatas that occur in the following section, that any sense of 'voice' is lost.

Regarding the Deleuzian aspect of Zizek's point, it must be said that Zizek is on fairly safe ground here, utilising a section from Difference and Repetition that draws upon Lacan to discern what Deleuze calls the virtual object. Zizek takes the virtual object to be only perceived in what he himself describes as a minimal difference, a parallax, which corresponds to the anamorphic nature of the Lacanian Real. Deleuze:

Virtual objects are shreds of pure past [...] Although it is deducted from the present real object, the virtual object differs from it in kind: not only does it lack something in relation to the real object from which it is subtracted, it lacks something in itself, since it is always half of itself, the other half being different as well as absent. This absence [...] is the opposite of a negative.

The virtual object is never past in relation to a new present [...] virtual objects exist only as fragments of themselves: they are found only as lost; they exist only as recovered. Loss and forgetting here are not determinations which must be overcome; rather, they refer to the objective nature of that which we recover, as lost, at the heart of forgetting.

Deleuze here makes obvious use of Lacan; the Real, which is always in its place, is virtualised and becomes a condition of temporality itself. Deleuze notes that the Lacanian phallus is an erotic example of the virtual object as pure past, an always displaced fragment, that creates the condition for repetition: repetition does not manifest itself sequentially between two linearly arranged moments, but across distinct series of time that are related by the virtual field:

Repetition is constituted not from one present to the other, but between the two coexistent series that these presents form in function of the virtual object (object = x)

Now, Zizek wants Deleuze's virtual object to correspond to Hegel's eternal absolute - he takes a highly Lacanian passage from Deleuze and then translates it back into Hegelese, taking him back into his comfort zone. Here is his conclusion regarding Schumann:

the eternal absolute is the third un-played line, the point of reference of the two lines played in reality. It is absolute, but fragile - if the two positive lines are played wrongly, it disappears.

Now Zizek claims that the first of the sections is not enough - for him, the pianist cannot highlight the inner voice the first time to make it clear - it must be repeated again without the highlighted missing voice in order to make the absence palpable. But what is occurring the first time? What is the presence of the original inner voice? For Zizek's analogy to work, he needs there to be a repetition, in order for there to be a 'minimal difference' that both depends on and enables this repetition. Now for the listener, what are they actually experiencing? The first section stresses the absence of the inner voice - its fragmented appearance in the actually occurring music is enough to suggest its existence. The repeated section, rendered correctly, does not suggest any voice whatsoever. Rather than suggesting the echo of the notes, the repeat is a negative positing of the voice, the presence of the absent voice is removed, but in a destructive way. The virtual background is not what accounts for the difference of the two lines, but the occlusion of the space where the missing line was articulated. I suggest that the use of the term 'repetition' is the problem here. In the Humoreske, the missing line is not merely spectrally suggested but then is exorcised by repetition of the positive notes in an altered manner. This is, however, to conflate the musical repetition of a phrase with the repetition of which Deleuze speaks:
Undoubtedly the whole psychoanalytic [...] game of repetition is at issue here. The question is whether repetition may be understood as operating from one present to another in the real series, from a present to a former present.

Zizek's example, although interesting in and of itself, fails to correspond properly to the terms that he uses it to explain.

UPDATE- For the past few days, I have been unable to stop humming the non-existent 'virtual' melody to myself, which might well be a world first.


This is very strange. If you can recall Zizek's Parallax View you'll remember that in the introduction he brings up the anecdote that Benjamin was killed by Stalin's agents to prevent him from publishing the extended version of the Theses on the History of Philosophy that he was carrying in his briefcase. A nice tale, but it's all a bit too People's Princess, to be honest. Perhaps a Hollywood film version would be appropriate, but who would play Walter? Perhaps it could be a Brad Pitt vehicle, with Penelope Cruz the Spanish lady entrusted with guiding him safely through the mountainous passages, teaching him a thing or two about love in the process, and Stalin would of course have to be played by Paris Hilton.

Ligeti - Etude No.10, Der Zauberlehrling

Pianist: Ching-Yun Hu

Friendly Fires - Paris

Saw this recently, it's not too bad, as far as contemporary indie-schmindie-dancey-crossover-pop goes. I'll stick my neck out and say that I enjoy it.