Response to Carrie's post on dualism (Jon Sakata)

I wish to tango further with Carrie's wonderful post concerning the (dancer's) body, control and staving off the affective powers of art, Deleuze and (his) expanded notion of 'bodily' experience:

"[I]t is no longer the sound which refers to a landscape, but music develops a sonorous landscape which is internal to it: it was Liszt who set upon this idea of the sonorous landscape, with such an ambiguity that we no longer know if sound refers to an associated landscape or if, on the contrary, a landscape is so interiorized within sound that it [landscape] exists only in it [sound]." - Deleuze, IRCAM lecture

As performer and listener, to not only venture, immerse, terrain such an ambiguous 'landscape' but to pleasure in becoming lost within it. As I sit at the piano to sound and lose coordinates (of self?) in such landscapes this entails making music's materiality - air - take on the affective and non-sonorous natures of felt temperature, humidity, currents and courses of energies, winds, flows, oxygen-full and oxygen-lacking states of an environment beyond pictorial depiction (representation) toward an irretrievable placeness now only of the audible. 

Echoing Klee's creative impossibility: "to render visible forces that are not themselves visible" arrows to render audible forces that are not themselves audible...In textbooks, Liszt is credited with a new musical 'form': the transformation of themes (a theme or themes is/are constantly varied or transformed--melodically, rhythmically, coloristically, affectively, etc.--from section to section so that the entire work takes on a vast range of variety and coherence). Problematic is that his compositional innovation remains confined to the analytic of 'notes,' harmonic structures, orchestration, form as process, to be sure; but the 'impossibilities' of rendering audible the inaudible forces of non-human natures is rarely countenanced, let alone potently realized. Becoming-others in Liszt--including unsettling transformations of 'human'--continues to trouble a field of dissemination hung-up on the primacy of 'form' heavy on conceptualization, realized idea, score-based formalism and formatting.


A couple decades ago, 'air' as primary materiality took on new fascination and problem for me after reading Klossowski's The Baphomet - with this novel's (e)strange(d) characters being a series of 'breaths' (how enthralling to imagine the perplexing 'breath-characters' in various states of bodily-becoming, transmogrification and blasphemous acts): Can one give 'air' flesh? What does it mean to give 'form' to air-become-flesh?


Is there an analog in the visual arts to what I feel is a fundamental misapplication in musical discourse (particularly around Euro-American "classical" music) in which the very musics that are valorized, beloved as representations of "humanity" -- such distinctly different composers as Hildegard, J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms come to mind -- are precisely those that de-centered the 'human' and/or fundamentally situated the 'human' within other registers of cosmic/planetary existence? The way Brahms carried within him (and harnessed/unleashed) from his Op. 1 to his decades in Vienna, the forces and energies of the sea, a becoming-maritime/becoming-nautical that twins Melville: what is 'human' in Brahms--from deepest emotional churns, epic calls and fanfares, to most tender whispers and nostalgic wafts of warmth and longing--seems to me in arc and horizon not the work of the composer popularly dubbed the reactionary, retrograde "Romantic Classicist" (struggling to come to terms with the 'traditional forms' of his forbearers); but rigorously explored and multiplicary expressions from a composer who was enmeshed with the forces of Nature like few others.


Deborah Barlow said...

Thank you for making room for the rhapsodic. (As is your nature.) Thank you Jon.

Jon Sakata said...

Hi there Deborah—

And thanks for your opening the door and window and roof to confusion and the unknown! Here’s to a dialogic furthering over the course of these days and beyond!

Deborah Barlow said...

One more thought on your words Jon, in the spirit of,“The object is to make the dancer dance.” From a review of Sky Hopinka last month in the New York Times:

Taney Roniger said...

Re: "Can one give air flesh?" What a beautiful question, Jon. David Abram, who will be our final speaker here next weekend, writes a lot about air as a material presence. It's one we take so for granted because we can't see it, but it is, as David reminds us, part of the flesh of the earth. (As he has said somewhere, we don't live *on* the earth, we live *in* it -- literally immersed in, and constantly ingesting, Earth's outermost layer.)