[-empyre-] Re: [empyre] empyre and empire - retour des choses, or, taking off, with ballast

Yes, indeed, that was one of the provocations behind mentioning Tropicalia 2, to point gently towards Tropicalia itself as a
'modern' critical practice with political implications (to say the least) during a regime that sought to curtail and even silence its practitioners. Tropicalia's story influenced me very much when I was starting to work in new media, not least for the vitality of the music itself, but also because of what apparently happened (probably others on the list from Brazil can help me out here) to its members (see quote below). I was inspired to think about the 'zero' degree of a landscape of surveillance. How your choices as an artist propel you, possibly, into conditions of peril.In what ways speech, in the topologies of the internet, supposedly a 'free' environment, might be challenged or truncated or shut down. How one longed not just for 'freedom from' oppression but also 'freedom to' create and how this longing itself might lead to exile. How speech in exile might derive from a submerged or furtive being -- the 'exotic' 'other' or 'queer' ; so in a way it was from Tropicalia that I derive the geneology of my cyborg as a topology of the net, an aphasic topology but also one that might speak 'truth' (or "parrhesia", fearlessness in speaking the truth, a characteristic of Tropicalia). "Parrhesia" as an interrogation into the cultural space of the net itself --- as in this small but wild
speculation on neural.it, http://www.neural.it/english/ aphasiaparrhesia.htm Christoph's Cosmolalia is a related and more concrete analysis.


Brazilian Tropicalia 1968

In 1967, singer/composers Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso introduce a new sound in Brazilian music, inspired as much by Jimi Hendrix and Chuck Berry as by mellow bossa nova. Along with rock musicians Os Mutantes and Tom Ze, they produce a startling collective record, Tropícalía ou Panís et Círcensís (Tropicalia or Bread and Circuses), that mingles traditional Brazilian rhythms with electric guitars and psychedelic flourishes. Their often humorous lyrics poke fun at Brazil's consumer society and other aspects of the contemporary culture.

Many Brazilians see the music as an adulteration of Brazil's musical birthright by an American aesthetic. On occasion, Veloso performs to so many boos, he stops midsong. Nevertheless, over the next year, the Tropicalistas develop a cult following that begins to spread to an entire generation inspired by their music and spirit.

Brazil's military government distrusts the Tropicalistas, who dress in the feathers and velvets of the hippie movement. Veloso's 1968 tune, "E Proíbído Proíbír" ("It is Forbidden to Forbid"), which takes its title from a slogan of the May student protests in Paris, provokes officials further, and they label the musicians a political threat and a decadent influence who will corrupt Brazilian youth.

In December of 1968, the military government consolidates power. They then arrest Veloso and Gil, jailing them without charge for several months, and then recommending they leave the country. The artists remain in exile for four years, spiriting compositions with veiled lyrics from London to Brazil for others to record and perform. Others in the Tropicalismo movement are less fortunate; several undergo torture or forced "psychiatric care." One Tropicalisto, the lyricist and poet Torquato Neto, commits suicide after such treatment.

Gil and Veloso are able to return to Brazil in 1974 and rebuild their careers. Military rule in Brazil ends in 1985 with the election of a civilian president. By then, tropicalia musicians gain worldwide attention, influencing such North American performers as David Byrne and Paul Simon.


On Mar 7, 2006, at 8:35 PM, Lucio Agra wrote:
Two or three things, still, about le "retour des choses":

Tropicalia 2 was not intend to be a revival play but in fact it was.
In some sense Caetano and Gilberto Gil were intending to deal with
some questions they believed were still important at that time. The
song "As coisas" is from Arnaldo Antunes, contemporary poet who
certainly has some traces of Tropicalia in his songs and poems but no
more than he has some traces of 80s and 90s pop culture...
I accept you remark on this idea of flowing time permanently moving
back and forward. But do not thing that it is quite distant from that
other I meant before quoting Pound and Vico. The Brazilian concrete
poets searched in both sources a way to understand the past as a
living present. BTW, I did not mention before, but I think that one of
the Concrete Poets, Haroldo de Campos proposed a concept which I think
can be more useful in this discussion than the already classic
post-modern. In a text called "The post-Utopian poem" (I believe there
are translations to English or french) he suggested the idea that
Baudelaire was really modern and Mallarmé was, then post-modern (an
idea I think I saw here somewhere).
He also suggested the idea of post-Utopian, assuming that the main
trace of Modern tradition was the search for Utopia and that was
precisely - in his view- what was declining in contemporaneity.
Caetano Veloso and Arnaldo Antunes were great friends and admirers of
Haroldo and the peculiar understanding that Concrete poetry has made
of modernist poets like Pound.
Lucio BR

On 3/5/06, Christina McPhee <christina112@earthlink.net> wrote:

if ballast  is the subject of  -empyre- ,

let's call it x

since we don't know what it is (yet).

Let us consider the set [ technology never-not human ] ,

  invert it [technology always-already human]

   and then make a  recursive equation  to solve for x

  (technology never-not human)

(technology always-already human)

x =  ( technology never-already human ) (technology always-not human).

Thus we ascend (in a mobius spiral) to the empyrean like a hot air
balloon with a leak.

just having fun...

---and speaking of retour des choses,

I want to quote from Tropicalia 2  : As Coisas  Electra Nonesuch
Records 1993

( Gilberto Gil music, lyris Arnauldo Antunes)

As coisas tem peso,
mass, volume, tamahno,
tempo, forma, cor,
posicao, textura, duracao,
densidade, cheiro, valor,
consistencia, profundidade,
contorno, temperatura,
funcao, aparencia, preco
destino, idade, sentido,
as coisas nao tem paz.

things have weight
  mass, volume, size
time, form, color
position, texture, duration,
density, smell, value,
consistency, depth,
contour, temperature,
function, appearance, price,
destiny, age, meaning
things have no peace

to listen http://christinamcphee.net/merz_city/texts/ascoisas.html

Double inversion: the retour des choses is not just a feedback loop
as in modernist dynamics but a mobius strip, and probably, has no
peace (or piece! :-). Not even furniture.

Lucio writes,

The question of humanization of tech have been discussed in many symposiums but it always seems strange to me. At least computers are the most human machine I've ever heard about. It has a screen that can only be "viewed" by frontal human eyes, over a keyboard, something that can be typed only by fingers that have the abilities to do it. BTW, "digital" comes from Latin "digitum" which means "digitum" (the remark is from one of the main poets of my country Decio Pignatari).

Mediated performance could mean something that would offer a new
vision over the modern tradition... I leave it as a suggestion to

Christophe writes:
This was the original intuition by Blank & Jeron or by Valery
Grancher when
he made his first webpainting in 1998 (he refers to Picabia, Jasper
etc.), or Miltos Manetas with his internet paintings...

I?m very much influenced by this ironical idea of the ?retour des
choses? as
we would say in french. What is the most stupid thing you can do
when you
are a net.artist: the answer is: painting a website on a canvas.
What was
the most stupid thing I could do, with my epiphanies: replacing the
with a human being.

I think this provides interesting conceptual loops at the age of
0) Human beings speak
1) Google hacks all the speeches of mankind
2) I hack Google in return
3) From this double hack, a human being speaks (the human browser)
and we
are back to 0), but we made a very big loop ;-)

Saul writes:

a  subject that is at once both fluid/ adaptable and
incapable of deluding itself into believing it is capable of acting

Christiane writes:

Are the networked and performative artistic practices in which many
of us are involved a valuable counter-balance and at the same time
the foundations of today's "empire"?

GH writes:

. Although the notion of a person functioning or being directed by web information is amusing, I think that the emotion of surprise and disjunction is more important.... If we follow what the philosophers say; all digital media is alienating. Both Christina and Christophe use those tools to humanize.

and Simon, finally,

not counter-balance perhaps but ballast, then to Christiane's
yes. And a ballooning discussion like this might remind itself how
the lines of false-consciousness are (and in Nietzschean recursion
tying it down to the idea of empire it tries to lift, lift out,
take, take
off? (Something I believe Aliette has been very clear on.)


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