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Thoughts on the end of the world

The end of the world has been on my mind lately. In the city where I live, Seattle, this summer saw dramatic differences in the climate; for weeks the air quality was worse than in Beijing. On one occasion ash rained down from the sky, covering windows, lawn chairs and spider webs in a preternaturally grubby residue. These events were unnerving in no small part because of their baleful coincidence with the news that the current administration would be pulling out of the Paris climate accord. What can music do to address problems like these; in particular, the sort of music that comes out of a classical tradition of art understood broadly as a practice with ineffably metaphysical intention

On antinomies

Why would thinkers of a primarily analytic bent feel uncomfortable toward the idea of something on the order of what Adorno calls a magical residue or substrate in art, in music, in language? To what extent are they justified in dismissing this as mystical mumbo-jumbo? The discomfort likely stems from a slippage that takes the non-provability of the non-rational, non-quantitative, non-discursive (all non's?) elements in art to constitute non-existence of these elements. The claim of non-existence is not necessarily expressed discursively. Rather, it is expressed through internalized social norms that discourage these sorts of questions from even being asked. Underlying this is a slippage fr

On hyperreality in spaghetti westerns

It doesn't look like Charles Bronson is playing the harmonica or, indeed, like any of the sounds in the opening scene from Once Upon a Time in the West are actually attached to their visual sources. But this is not for a lack of detail. Every sound is presented with an impossible richness of detail, recorded in stunningly high fidelity. But fidelity to what exactly? What sort of reality is this scene meant to simulate? The inundation of sonic concreteness and detail in the scene creates an experience that is seemingly more real than reality itself, an experience, in fact, that is hyper-real. Hyperreality and simulacra — as exemplified in the dubbing aesthetic of such Cinecittà productions —

THE AMOEBA WEEPS