Taking up Taney's invitation to further amplify on my previous 'misapplications of discourse' in music post, as well as to bring in polyphonic assemblage some other thoughts concerning other open posts/threads of Session I...
The disastrous inheritance of the Nature/Culture division has clearly been written about with great critical insight by a number of authors (including some on this symposium panel). I wonder if music's tabling within the Culture taxonomy has been a cause for why certain composers -- who clearly had deep connectivity with the non-human, and who drew not just 'inspiration' (cliche) but were profoundly immersed in its phenomena, forces, energies, vital signs and sources -- have been talked about and lensed the way they have been, reductively and grossly, as (only) paragons of humanism and human-cultural-civilizational achievement?
When Charlene points out that "[o]ther orientations preserved some of the premodern sense of the potent interrelatedness among all physical matter," I think of Hildegard von Bingen's astonishing vocal chants in which immense melodic gestures and contours (some ranging over two octaves as her contemporaries remained contained to within an octave), streams and beams of light made audible -- complexified through a completely novel "networked system of musical modes" (Michael Gardiner) -- give ear, earth, sky to her well-known attunement with the mineral world and supposedly keen observations of how light interacted with crystalline forms of minerals. But what is more, I feel it is important to steer away from the personality cult of "Hildegard" as individual genius; and rather, to focus in on the non-personal power (Deleuze) that coursed through this remarkable prismatic assemblage: Hildegard-mineral-crystal-light-sound.
Accumulating snowfall 'mood' music playing in the background, but now coming to my foreground of perception: there's Schubert's Winterreise on. Perfect coincidence. Something rarely recognized by musicians and musicologists about Lieder, but described by Deleuze in the L'Abécédaire interviews, is the fundamental tie between certain composers (e.g., Schubert and Schumann) and this genre of song with 'the Land.' There is an ongoing 'force of contact' (to echo Rauschenberg) and non-personal power that streams through Earth, the (human) wanderer, poet and composer. What is typically described as the 'deeply human' emotions and poetics of these songs, misses (in the case of the Schubert cycle in my ears), however partial, a peculiar hyper-sensitivity to, identification with, and intoning of the non-human. A single leaf barely hanging on the linden tree before it spirals to oblivion... Some may argue that this is anthropomorphism, par excellence; I would counter that what Schubert (or rather, what happens through Schubert) is the kind of mysterious mediation and transformation of voice and piano, the becoming-rustling winter wind and fragility of parched vegetation made sonic, that could only happen because of someone/something/somewhere leaving behind the purely 'human-cultural-civilizational' fold to venture a posthuman ethos well before any such terminology existed...
Jon, I don't want these meditations/explorations/expansions to end. Please, just keep going!
I am still relishing your "prismatic assemblage: Hildegard-mineral-crystal-light-sound."
Fremd bin ich eingezogen,
Fremd zieh’ ich wieder aus.
So it begins, a journey with no end.
Onwards and onwards, we (and our shadows, of course) and whatever awaits ahead...
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