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<eyebeam><blast> Figuring



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Figuring


(Fukuoka, Japan)

The upper range of the noh flute is atonal in relation to the lower;
this is probably unique in the flute family. The flute is designed with
a small wooden insert near the mouth-hole. The flute I heard today at
the Konkyoko temple ceremony, accompanying koto, was atonal as well, the
result I think of ignoring the lower octave altogether, and playing up
to three octaves above. After the ceremony over 10-sake- argument-me, we
discussed theology. Everything is fine with one God the universe, the
story, and I think every religion has a story, the narrative of _Being_
which doesn't have to go anywhere at all. There is a good daily-life
narrative in Konkyoko, just let it go with the flow, coming and going,
give and take, it's all back to daily life, which is where the God has
big divinity. It's the them speaking, not as one, not as beings, but
Being: "Why is there Being rather than nothing" might conceivably
translate into "Why not?". I am greatly thankful that this group of
people are thinking about the universe.

("If Sectarian Shinto is individualistic and ethical, it is quite
conceivable that it has a tinge of religious universalism, even though
it is not quite relieved of the bond of national religion. Therefore it
may be described as quasi-universal or semi-propagandistic in character,
and thus Sectarian Shinto has in principle some approach to the genuine
universal religions, Buddhism and Christianity. Most of the Shinto sects
are national in one respect, because their religious observances are not
a little connected with some of the national deities mentioned in the
_Kojiki_ and _Nihongi_ myths, but in another respect some - at least one
- of the Shinto sects have passed beyond the limits of national
religion. To cite an example: the Konko Sect which adores
Tenchikane-no-Maki (a name never mentioned in the _Kojiki_ or the
_Nihongi_) or the Heaven-and-Earth-Including-Deity, i.e., the Supreme
Deity whose influences extend over the entire Heaven and the Earth, free
of any racial restriction or boundaries of nationality - in its worship
of this Deity the sect displays an aspect of Shinto as a universal
religion." From Genchi Kato, A Study of Shinto, 1926.)

Now we will go out to the flea-market nearby at the Hakozaki shrine.
Here there is much pottery from the last couple of centuries for sale, I
do notice. I know nothing about this. We are walking down back the
left-side and I notice a carton on the ground with shards. These aren't
like the other shards at the flea-market, which are decorated and recent
- these are apparently old, and we ask the owner where they are from. He
mentions a river that was diverted; these surfaced. I am feeling eerie;
they're inexpensive, and I figure they're not fake, since they are _so_
cheap, all different, worn in a manner similar to those I've seen in the
middle-east or north-eastern Pennsylvania  and since it would be
difficult to reproduce the _look._ I buy two pieces for 700 yen, around
$6, and figure later, from a book (from which I figure everything -
depending on _figuration_), that they are Yayoi, between 300 BC and 300
AD, wheel-turned with slight straw incisions. I have part of a base and
bowl-side and part of a shoulder and lip and part of the universe.

Like the 3.5 billion-year-old stromatolite fossil I own, these are part
of the universe, before the _other_ incision of writing, although one
might find DNA coding a form of inscription or universal government.
These shards are part of the problem of ceramics, which always - in art
departments - are closer to ateliers, workshops, eruptions, than to the
discursive formations of academia. Their roughness pre-figures the
figuration of the earth, before the figure of the book. I think they run
on no protocol, no _writing_ except the survival of hardened clay in the
earth, the habitus of their production, the familialities they occurred
within - this is how I would _like_ to see them, in other words: without
narrative and the pleasure of narrative, without the story of their
origin or production (although with the story of their discovery and
removal to the carton on the grounds of the Hakozaki Shrine
flea-market).

There are other narratives which are not. In Israel, studying
prehistory, I went on a field-trip with other students to the North. We
visited an Olduvai site, a dried lake-shore under excavation; there were
trenches, about five feet high, and I walked through one of them. On
both sides, there were stone-tools, Olduvai, still embedded. They were
_there,_ roughly carved, way before points and handles. Touching them, I
realized that the _last touch,_ the touch before _this,_ was by a
creature not quite human, different, the same, intermediaries, just as
the stromatolite appears rock-like, hardly alive, the first larger
organisms (composed of cyanobacteria) to leave fossil records, thin
bands in certain rock.

We are talking about _rock,_ about _clay,_ about _writing,_ there and
not there, as if touched, caressed, by a presence at a far remove from
the symbolic - or stumbling through the symbolic, or being a sign. And
we are talking about a _flute_ which doesn't jump to the octave, but
jumps into tension, and the impetus accompanying the flute, and the
difficult care of its carving.

But we are talking about a sign, and what constitutes a sign when it
emerges from the earth - or a sign, emerging as sound from silence - or
a sign, when it is not a sign at all, not even a narrative not even a
Presence of religion.

We are talking about a sign which for us, _damaged life_ (Adorno),
already problematizes a sign, problematizes signifiers - just as such
_operations after the fact_ inform Kristeva's Revolution in Poetic
Language. And we are talking about a sign which is always already an
upwelling, anomaly, appearance - an appearing which is taken-for a sign,
a sign in these instances of the obdurate, inert earth - a sign which
lends itself, trembling, as it were, to the chthonic. ("As it were," for
it is our trembling, or my trembling, and "as it were," for the sign is
neither borrowed nor lent, but constituted or recuperated by one
organism in relation or within/without the presence of another.) Thus a
sign which emerges, dragging the inchoate with it, and this is perhaps
related to Otto's _numinous_ which is present in these objects, these
shards, stones, sounds bent out of, within, belonging. Or what we read
as the numinous, I would say not the divine or Presence in all things,
but a thinging which resonates the symbolic as if _the symbolic were
there to be played._

We forget this, comfortable with writing. Or if not comfortable with
writing, with reading. Or if not comfortable with reading, with the
sign. Or if not comfortable with the kanji, comfortable with speech,
with speaking and replying, call and response. Or if not comfortable
with speech, comfortable with sound. Or if not comfortable with sound,
comfortable with that silence which does not exist, emerge, upwell.. Or
here, comfortable with that uneasy obdurate which threatens those who
signify, those who sign. And who of us are immune from this, at all
levels of what is constituted or constructed as the real? No matter how
much art is a placement _elsewhere,_ no matter how much the Net is a
figure of flux, dispersion, dissolution. For a membrane has no nodes.
"For a membrane has no nodes."

And the _symbolic is a placement or a play._ (In noh, there is the
_waki_ who probes, prods, the masked hero or heroine. The _waki,_ like
everything here, I figure to be within and without the narrative  the
_moment_ of the narrative perhaps, so that the hero or heroine can
_produce_ the speaking or singing or _tuning_ of the world of the script
to the audience, transmission eddying around his figuration.)


(The greater the degree of superstructural play on the Net, the greater
the foreclosure of a political economy that problematizes the sign, in a
way that no sed[  ] or awk[  ] or script can. So that one glides on the
surface of the TCP/IP protocol narratives, for example, as if there were
the continuum. But there is no continuum; there is only cauterization,
filtering-machinery, no matter how fine the raster. And I would not know
how to define the raster of the _upper register_ of atonality, the
raster of the shard. I would not know how to define the raster of clay
or stone, and I think these are problems of the Net, January Wired a
case in point - the translation of scarcity economics into
entrepreneurial capital for example. But this transformation, which is
also a blinding, is a different occasion, and while I program _here_ I
will also Olduvai _there._ Nothing will come of it. I am sure of that;
_nothing will come of it._)





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