Pomp

An extravaganza of music this weekend at the Proms, where I was fortunate to hear the Ardittis tearing syntax a new one in Ferneyhough, the Berlin Phil glorying in Austro-German grotesquery, and the BBC Singers make the most of some good, some slight, new scores from British composers. I also witnessed a curious reclamation of the 1910 Last Night, where jingoism was made spectral by the phantom of a million souls sacrificed for the good of the British Empire. At least in my eyes it was. (I’m still amazed at the willingness so many evince to celebrate what could be described as at best an ambiguous historical record.)

Incidentally, I also heard Florian Hecker’s steamrolling delineation of hyperchaos (where the universe could only be conceived, pace Meillassoux’s insights, in terms of a chronics, not physics, because of the impossibility of providing a rational demonstration that the laws of nature are not, in fact, contingent) in a wonderfully bewildered Octagon, at the urgent and inspiring Speculative Realism event at Tate Britain. Admiring Robin Mackay’s ‘interventions’ in the room dedicated to the Romantic sublime, hearing Hecker’s ripping sonic assaults choreograph chaos in the background, I almost felt as if I’d stepped into some interzone of the uncanny where Lovecraft was worshipped as a new Shakespeare, and musical politesse could be found in the tentacles of scorched high partials and clefting noise loops.

Speculative Realism trys to find ways to engage with realities outside of, before, and after the human, and it was suggested many times in the panel discussion that art, with its courting of the uncanny and the Weird, might offer a unique window into that reality. For me, it seems art also opens us up to a non-subjective space (with respect to the death of its author, etc) perfectly suited to such SR engagements. It’s made by humans, but escapes their grubby mits in that making.

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2 Responses to “Pomp”

  1. Seán Says:

    Nice post. I particularly like ”it seems art also opens us up to a non-subjective space (with respect to the death of its author, etc) perfectly suited to such SR engagements. It’s made by humans, but escapes their grubby mits in that making.”

    I would ask you though, can SR not engage with an alternate reality ‘during’ the human also?
    I am reminded of Wilde’s picture of Dorian Grey (Here we must already considering this work of fiction as an alternative reality) – The art work in question (The portrait of Grey) is made by a human and becomes a non-subjective space when it begins to change in appearance (It is not Grey thinking the painting is changing, it is changing). Whilst the painting escapes the ‘grubby mits’ of its creator by taking on a life force of its own, it is Grey’s own actions which cause the ‘reality’ of the art work to shift, thus I think this alternate reality is happening during the human also. I may have completely missed the point, but it might be an interesting discussion.
    all the best,
    Seán

  2. Stephen Graham Says:

    What a wonderful example! I think, on the order of the realities Wilde suggests, your suggestion of a sort of mutually-infecting double stream of meta- and trans-human discourses is absolutely urgent, and indeed might be interesting as the basis for a SR inquiry, but the example is so unique that I don’t think it could be taken as exemplary or symptomatic, and whatever insights gained from the discussion might be limited.

    That being said, perhaps we could think of art-ontologies similar to that of the picture; perhaps all fine art works, in fact, exist in a similar way; their physical state decays in time (simply over a longer scale than the Wilde), whilst the actions of their creator, the ‘author function’, to take a Foucauldian term, clearly infect their reception; however we perceive the author informs how we perceive their work, after all.

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