[-empyre-] regarding grief and mourning

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Tue Oct 9 15:17:24 EST 2012

On Mon, 8 Oct 2012, Johannes Birringer wrote:

> Ana's references (and the discussion between Alan and Sandy) seem to be 
> to the Real (and yet I sense so much slippage to the virtual in Alan's 
> and Sandy's discussion, surely intended, and if we follow through the 
> idea of the virtualization (opera, machinima, manga comic, poetry) of 
> pain, its dis-location to other "genres", then my weary irony finds 
> itself in a discussion, say, about opera, where I'd agree with what 
> composer Thomas Ad?s ("Wagner is a fungus") suggested we "feel" when we 
> watch opera, namely we may very well feel the power of the music, but 
> what are we watching? Operas, Ad?s argues, should indeed "be absurd in a 
> way that is truer than reality. But that's just the most absurd form of 
> something that is absurd from the start: music. Music should have no 
> excuse, other than itself. Music is its own excuse....."

Just want to touch on "Wagner is a fungus," since fungi are their own 
kingdom, closer to animals than plants; along with that, slime-molder are 
intermediaries, simultaneously animal and fungus, each with the potential 
of the other, each the entangled virtual of the other's real. Most humans 
are troubled by slime molds, which are highly organized communities in the 
gathering or stalk-building phases, but which appear to them as abject, 
rotted, shapeless, and so forth. Their motility is both microscopic and 
slowed. They are one of my favorite life-forms on the planet, along with 
jellies and other troublesome fungi. And they relate here, but it's 
difficult for me to follow the traces. As far as opera goes, or music or 
affect in relation to empathy, sympathy, pain, Philoctetes, Ovid's exile 
letters (which are irritating in their pain and painful in their 
irritation) and so forth, go or goes, isn't this ground that has been 
repeatedly covered by everything from analyses of Hollywood cinematic 
codes to the neurophysiology of pain and mirror neurons? The relations of 
humans or other species to music for that matter con/figures into the 
discussion which then seems a bit hopeless. I work my pieces to affect my 
readers, listeners, or viewers, and the artists I know and love, including 
you Johannes, do, I think, the same; Laurie Anderson was very clear about 
that when she said that if you take 45 minutes of the audience's time, you 
have to give them something worth that period. So here I'm confused about 
the discussion; admittedly I've been away in Washington, D.C. which is 
confusing in itself, not to mention sick, me, not Washington, so I may be 
missing something here?

Of course we feel when we watch opera, especially if we have somewhat of 
an idea of what's going on. Perhaps you are talking about a phenomenology 
of song?

- Alan, feverish

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