[-empyre-] fragile identities / taboo of destroying property

Gabriel Menotti gabriel.menotti at gmail.com
Sat Feb 18 23:51:25 EST 2012


>I spent a while doing the 'full with noise' strategy –
>playing all sounds, all at once, loudly. But where do
>you go once you've done that, when you've reached
>(what you hear as) the limit? [Marie Thompson]

This question leads me to think about how much a presentation to
others involves the repetition of the skills one is already fully
accustomed to and over control. At the same time, how much attention
should we be paying to what /the audience/ hear as the limit? Could
their expectations be used as a way of furthering the understanding
(and turning around) of one’s own techniques?

Are there analogies to be traced here with a viva voce examination?

>but i am not so sure (Cage's 4':33" and his ideas on
>silence go back to the 50s) what surprised audiences,
>what made anything un-bearable, or why an open
>structure (an indeterminate structure?) would be
>considered radical? [Johannes Birringer]

Tentatively, I’d say that they could have been surprised if they were
not familiar with Cage (or with that tradition). Or just because
silence/ inaction is always a bit disturbing, even when one is
consciously prepared for it (elevator silence, for example).

On the one hand, I think this could be thought in terms of how we
understand/ manage the relation between universal and particular
references/ history. A certain scholarship/discipline might have
digested and overcome certain ideas, but these ideas can still be
relevant and create turning points in a personal investigation. (Also,
every new generation has to rediscover all traditions anew, don’t
them? How is this process goes through? How is a tradition implemented
and reimplemented?)

Could there be a parallel here with Luxemburg’s distinction between
the “unknownness of revolutionary life” and the “unknownness and
intimacy of personal life”?

On the other hand, what are we assuming about the audiences? While we
are wondering what expectations they might have, what expectations do
we have about them?

>I think you really have to be delusional at this point to
>think that destroying globalized industry-produced
>state-owned PA speakers in a publicly funded cultural
>institution during a PhD symposium is somehow a
>significant or effective challenge to patriarchy... or
>any offending notion of order [Baruch Gottlieb]

Uh, I don’t believe this was implied at any point. I was precisely
asking why we are so quick to dismiss the potential risk to the
equipment as an “uninteresting question” – or as “insignificant” and

Such objection raises yet another reason: our own political
expectations, or the parameter we set ourselves in order to assess the
(“critical”) meaning and value of something (in that case, the assumed
“challenge to patriarchy”).

Behind the risk to the equipment there are many risks. It is quite
undisputable that a breakdown challenge *some orders* (such as that of
the very situation of performance). Why is the challenge to these
orders irrelevant? Are these orders (“critically”) irrelevant

(I feel that this could come down to a question of universal/
particular as well; critical inquiry still much more focused on grand
narratives about the obsolescence of technical standards than on the
demise of single (“irrelevant”) things.)

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