The title came to me and I had to write something fast. I’ll just quickly set down some of the things I learned from my session with François today. Apologies in advance.
The main thing is that of the title of this post. It is something that I have realised before, but that I have realised more strongly now than ever. That is to say, accept that there be divisions in the work between its elements. Accept that for the start, and work to overcome it. I remember a quote from Badiou in his book on Wagner about music beginning with impure form and having to purify itself. To do otherwise is to make an arbitrary law out of what is in fact contingent. There will be contingency, you put it down, you work to make something of it.
This is the conclusion that I’m drawing after François has been repeatedly insisting that autonomy between elements of a work is necessary. For example, between the laws of language and the laws of music, between electronics and instruments, between your first idea and your second. There’s no need initially for one to be necessarily determined by the other. In fact, let them remain autonomous.
At least then you can be very clear about what is there. Not get mixed up in a unity-soup, which is a false unity. François is super clear about what is there in his work – at least on the abstract scale of the ‘enjeux’ of a work. There’s no good word in English for ‘enjeux’ – Matthew and I are going with ‘stakes’ in our translation of François’ books. It’s about choosing which elements of the current situation in music you want to treat, identifying them clearly, and setting them in relation. It’s about making binaries or contradictions that globally structure the work, and then finding relations between the binaries.
I don’t accept that there is an assemblage of all sorts without all the elements globally being reducible to binaries. At least I don’t think that I do. Maybe the binaries come at the end, after an assemblage. Maybe the binaries are there from the start, but don’t appear as such. Hell I don’t know.
This could be read as an ethical injunction (tautology?), and yes it is. But these are also musical forms! It is a practical realisation, or even a realisation of practice, insofar as it is a further realisation of things in their irreducibility. No. I prefer a practical realisation. I’m done with ‘things in their irreducibility’. I don’t give a damn if they are or are not irreducible. I’m just working with them, that’s all. Things as they are on the blue guitar…
And what else constitute these autonomous and contingent these impure forms which I no longer care if are irreducible or not but the sedimentation of history? I must take out my history book.
It’s contingent because it really exists. (“…and groundless except for their very emergence as such“)
But it’s also here a recognition of the necessity of dialectics to set this all moving.