Ahhh, Adorno. @psychicarts.com

pms laflame at mindspring.com
Tue Dec 29 05:59:03 PST 1998

> What is particularly noteworthy is the poverty
>of the materials from which such new perception has been fashioned; for the
>ear is the most archaic of the senses, and instrumental sounds are far more
>abstract and inexpressive than words or visual symbols. Yet in one of those
>paradoxical reversals that characterize the dialectical process, it is
>precisely this primitive, regressive starting point that determines the
>development of the most complex of the arts.
This writing is very clear, nicely done, bullshit. It only makes sense that music allows for complexity. Language is soooooo inadequete in expressing experience. It is openness to the primitive and regressive that allows us to appreciate the real truth of existence. And yes, I've always liked R.D. Laing.

>The fact that the production of so-called classical records has
>become a big business in the present day should not make us lose sight of
>the privileged relationship between the golden age of Western music and a
>Central Europe in which a significant proportion of the collectivity
>performed music and knew it from the inside, in a qualitatively different
>fashion from the passive consumers of our own time. In much the same way
>such a genre as the epistolary novel loses its very reason for being and
>its social as well as linguistic basis in a period when letter writing is
>no longer an important everyday activity and an institutionalized form of
>communication. So also certain types of lyric poetry vanish from cultures
>in which conversation and verbal expression are colorless and without life,
>lacking in any capacity for those twin forms of expansion which are
>eloquence or figuration.

This comes off like someone who doesn't realize that social and economic justice have a primary role in the change of musical audience. But that couldn't be true, could it?

>So it is that Western music at the very outset marks itself off from the
>culture as a whole, reconstitutes itself as a selfcontained and autonomous
>sphere at distance from the everyday social life of the period and
>developing, as it were, parallel to it. Not only does music thereby acquire
>an internal history of its own, but it also begins to duplicate on a
>smaller scale all the structures and levels of the social and economic
>macrocosm itself, and displays its own internal dialectic, its own
>producers and consumers, its own infrastructure.

Jeez, what an imperialist snob. What about Sumo wrestling, that's a world in itself, as I'm sure many other eastern idioms were.

>weird" falsetto effects of
>Schoenberg), what happens to the violin is to be taken as a sign of the
>determination to express what crushes the individual, to pass from the
>sentimentalization of individual distress to a new, postindividualistic

I gotta get some of this stuff! Sounds great.

>replaces the living warmth of the older instrument, which
>expressed life, where the newer one merely simulates it.
What a bunch of elitist crap. I've got a tuba solo on a Carla Bley album that almost makes ya cry.

>And if musical forms evolve in response to their public (church and salon
>music being little by little supplanted by middle-class spectator forms),
Almost sounds like he yearns for a time when the rabble didn't bother their betters.

>The Jameson quote is interesting. I'm not familiar with Jameson. Is this
>essay relatively recent? His comments on the nature of polyphony and monody,
>or rather his idea of what is "natural" and "unnatural" in each, would be
>hard to excuse if expressed in a time such as our own, in which it is really
>not TOO difficult to hear, say, classical Indian music. For, there is an
>example of music which is not polyphonic, yet manifests the same "concert"
>psychology that he attributes purely to the Western (European) polyphonic
>world. In short, these comments ignore the reality of music as it is, not to
>mention their apparent and too convetional cultural bias. You might do
>better examining this for yourself, rather than relying on Jameson's

I think Jameson is trying to justify the difficulty of Adorno's writing here, by saying that you shouldn't question something without a privilaged position of exposure ie, you know all the background, and everything the author knows. Reminds me of the nuns I used to drive batty on Tues. afternoons.

You're right Doug, the writing is flawless, but the motives are suspect.


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