In Elaine Barkin's OPEN SPACE 15/16 article "Telling it SLANT or In Search of the Early Years or 'A Sitting on a Gate'", a remembering of her involvement w/ the magazine Perspectives of New Music (reprinted from the same as it appeared in Volume 20, Nos. 1 & 2 (2012)), she describes PNM in a way that cd just as easily be a description of OPEN SPACE:
"In 1980, the Big Fat White issue included complex theoretical-philosophical discourse by Robert Morris, John Clough, David Lewin, and John Rahn, sitting in the same pew with Arthur Margolin's evocative "Mozart's D major String Quartet / k 593 / mm. 53-56" (four measures to die for: ERB), preceded by Wallace Berry's "Symmetrical Interval Sets and Derivative Pitch Materials in Bartók's String Quartet No. 3", my own "A Dedication / Five ADmusementS, & A Digression", all coming after a 250 page riot of texts celebrating Kenneth Gaburo" - pp 350-351
"Ben's stunning "TALK. If I am a Musical Thinker." melding with Naomi's arresting Rohrschachian ink-blobs, its layout created with the assistance of Bruce Huber, beckoning reader-viewer-listener. But many had been crying "foul", hiss-filled air reeked again; several Yale graduate music theory students hassled me in 1981 with: "it's just poetry"—as if "poetry" was a dirty word, as if expressive verbal language was an irrelevance; did "IT" belong in The Academy, in Music-Talk? Did they—or whoever they were speaking for—think that they "owned" Perspectives?" - p 351
"For many of us, Perspectives had become a utopian vision, communitas. Why not dream of better ways of doing things?; being inclusive, responsible but not narrowly responsive to any one way" - p 351
"It was more like a Crazy Quilt, each unique patch from a different expressive-investigative corner of the emerging, diversely un-unified multicultural music-analytic-theoreticspeculative-soundscape." - p 351
Now I, alas, don't have any issues of Perspectives of New Music in my otherwise very substantial personal archive/library - probably b/c it was mainly aimed at academia where high prices cd be pd for its sustenance & where the majority, if not the entirety, of its readership & contributors lived anyway. The same observation cd be aimed at OPEN SPACE as well: after all, single issues are priced at $45, double issues (like the one being reviewed here) at $80, & even the student rates price per issue is $38! The "utopian vision, [the] communitas" definitely doesn't include people outside that financially luxurious environ as far as purchase access goes.
Nonetheless, many OPEN SPACE recordings, tapes & CDs, had cheaply wended their way into my collection before I ever made contact w/ OPEN SPACE's editors & I've since found these folks to be generous & exceptionally open-minded. If they weren't, I wd've never been included in 2 issues so far - occupying, as I do, a place in what many wd consider to be a 'lunatic fringe'.
In many ways that are important to me, I IDENTIFY w/ Barkin's statement: consider this seemingly trivial instance: she places commas after quotation marks - something that some people to this day find almost insufferably heretical even tho I, personally, do the same thing & find it quite logical. & there are many things in Barkin's descriptions above that resonate w/ my own experiences in different environments. Take, eg, "several Yale graduate music theory students hassled me in 1981 with: "it's just poetry"—as if "poetry" was a dirty word, as if expressive verbal language was an irrelevance": in the mid 1990s I was a participant in a list-serv for improvisors called PhiBa, for Philadelphia-Baltimore, where I had similar experiences to those that Barkin had w/ the Yale students.
In one thread I participated by cutting & pasting other people's comments & reorganizing them into a more experimental text wch I then posted as a continuation of the thread. My logic was that I was playing w/ the list-serv as a way to improvise, using, of course, the musician's common imitation & recontextualization technique, thinking that I was moving the discourse onto a level on a par w/ everyone's purported interest. There was an uproar, a strong voicing of disapproval to the effect that 'I didn't join this list-serv for poetry!!' I didn't get the impression that anyone even noticed that I was quoting from previous postings. Ironically, 2 of the people who protested the most were 2 Pittsburgh-based musicians that I'd encouraged to join the list.
Since I'd been a prime mover in the improvisation community in BalTimOre before moving to Pittsburgh where I once again became involved w/ improvising, it seemed fit to me that the participation of PGH peops justified renaming the list-serv PhiBaPit or some such. I even went so far as to propose that the Washington DC participants be acknowledged in the name as well. My proposal was met w/ stony silence. This was clearly a snobbish closed circle.
I repeatedly submitted info about an upcoming event I was organizing to the PhiBa improvising calendar: the Anonymous Family Reunion to take place at Ringing Rocks State Park & at the Sonambient Theater where Harry Bertoia's sound sculptures are housed. Both locations are in eastern Pennsylvania w/in fairly easy driving distance of Philly & B-More. These locales were chosen for their extraordinary potential as places for site-specific improvising. But, apparently since they weren't 'conventional' improvising events at a club or gallery, my promotion was ignored by the administrator of PhiBa & not posted in the calendar. When I finally complained about this, the moderator acted frostily as if I were just being an asshole. When the Anonymous Family Reunion finally happened in the late summer of 1997, only one participant came from PhiBa. He & I are still friends 16+ yrs later. It probably wasn't much after this that I dropped off the list-serv. W/ the exception of the very few friends & collaborators that I met thru it, it was mostly a waste of time.
OPEN SPACE 15/16 begins w/ a memorial from Benjamin Boretz, the founder of PNM & coeditor (& presumed cofounder) of OPEN SPACE , for composer/teacher Harold Shapero (1920-2013). As Barkin writes about the 1st issue of PNM from the Fall of 1962 it had a "memoriam to Irving Fine who died way too young and also with whom Ben and I had studied at Brandeis" (p 346) &, Lo & Behold!, here's another tribute to a Brandeis music prof that Boretz studied w/ who managed to hang in there until 51 yrs later after the 1st issue of PNM! Long live longevity!
Boretz describes Shapero as a "local young-turk jazzpianist all-music wunderkind, [who] was not yet 35, inconceivably young for an actual official professor." (p 1) To quote Wikipedia: "The Young Turks [..] was a Turkish nationalist reform party in the early 20th century, favoring reformation of the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Empire." "The term "Young Turks" has since come to signify any groups or individuals inside an organization who aggressively pursue liberal or progressive policies, or advocate for reform." ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Turks )
I 1st recall encountering the term as, perhaps, the tile of a publication from the late 1970s or early 1980s by artist Stephen Seemayer about artists that he appreciated in LA & its rough urbanity, including himself. More recently, however, in a 2005 record called Totalitarian Sodomy by punk band "World Burns to Death" I encountered a song called "All the Young Turks" about wch they write "This song is inspired by a poem called "The Bride", written by poet Siamanto (real name Atom Yarjanian) who was born in 1878 and died in 1915, one of the first of the 1.5-million people murdered by the Young Turks movement during the Armenian genocide." That puts quite a different spin on things, eh?!
Back to Boretz: "Harold himself wrote about "the musical mind" as a manifestation of subconscious processes". (p 1) while this article is brief, it's still highly welcome to me b/c I only have 2 records w/ Shapero's music on it & don't really know his work at all. One of these is on the Columbia Masterworks series - one of the highest recommendations - & is a playing of his "String Quartet No. 1" (I'm listening to it now). The other is on The Louisville Orchestra's First Edition Records & is his "Credo for Orchestra" (I'll listen to it next). Boretz praises Shapero's "Symphony for Classical Orchestra". Perhaps I'll get to hear that someday.
Perhaps the person whose articles herein excited me the most is James Hullick, or ")-(Ull!c]<" as he (almost) writes it here. In his "Never Mind the Bollocks" he says: "Meditating on sonic art as an act of social conscience can lead to philosophy; and specifically the interabilities agenda. "Interabilities" is a term that denotes the interaction of people of all abilities. As an agenda for sonic practice, it describes people of varying abilities working together toward some sonic outcome. In and of itself, the term "interabilities" does not have anything to do with the quality of a sonic outcome. People of all abilities could be working together to make absolute rubbish and the term "interabilities" would be met. But the ethics behind interabilities activities elevates the activities beyond this broader blanket term. In the case of sound, for example, if people of all abilities work together to produce a truly dreadful concert, then the positive ethic and social benefit of the interabilities agenda can be lost. The audience may have suffered. It lies at the heart of the interabilities agenda that interabilities activities will eventually strive to inspire participants and audiences alike to our greatest vision of humanity — where all people stand equal in society, and where all abilities are considered of equal worth to the wider human mission." (p 6)
Now, I very much like this statement & laud the term "interabilities" wch I've never encountered before & wch )-(Ull!c]< may very well have coined. HOWEVER, I question some of its implications: )-(Ull!c]< being the guider of these interabled activities is in some sense the composer. He's also, presumably, being pd to be an interabilities facilitator. In his ideal interabilities scenario do ALL PARTICIPANTS have equal access to being the guide/facilitator & to equal pay? Also, are ALL PARTICIPANTS going to be in agreement on what a "truly dreadful concert" is & will someone's opinion be more privileged in relation to this? ()-(Ull!c]<'5, eg?) & will they all be in agreement that "if people of all abilities work together to produce a truly dreadful concert, then the positive ethic and social benefit of the interabilities agenda can be lost"? & that "The audience may have suffered"? &/or even that this 'suffering' is a bad thing? I've been told by 'friends' of mine who know close to nothing about what I do that my 'obvious' intention is 'just to irritate people' - this b/c I produce dense & challenging work that people find difficult to process - hence, it 'must' be 'sadistic'. NOT.
Cf this excerpt from my own article in this issue, "30 4 5 + 97.9": "my 1st reel-to-reel recorded audio piece from 1976: dadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadada A part of the significance of this latter was that it is a piece designed to be easily performable by almost anyone & that what wd distinguish one performance from another cd just as validly be the performers' incompetence or other foibles as well as their skills & strengths. This was an important 1st step for me in stepping outside of the disciplines of classical music into what I usually now refer to as "Low Classical Usic"." (pp 200-201)
The idea being here is that this, too, is an example of an interabilities situation but there is no such thing as a "truly dreadful concert" & whether "The audience [considers itself to] have suffered" or not is irrelevant - unless actual nonconsensual physical pain (psychological pain can be a bit harder to assess) is being induced. &, of course, I am the d composer here &, despite the extreme d liberate simplicity of the score/title, my function as such places me in a unique unequal position in relation to the performers.
)-(Ull!c]< does address possibilities that other more people living in a more insulated world wdn't even think of in their delusional utopian imaginings. That's one of the things that leads to my respecting his article(s) so much. "So while I think an interabilities agenda should be open to the experience of darkness that many people feel, I also think that we can find ways of embracing both the darkness and the light, that don't end in murder." (p 10) "The project responded to the story of Milarepa, a Buddhist saint from the 11th century (c. 1052-1135) who had started life out as a mass-murderer." (p 10) I'm reminded of an interview w/ John Waters from several decades ago. He'd made Pink Flamingos in wch his drag queen star, Divine (named after a Jean Genet character), actually ate dog shit. Waters remarked about changing the direction of his filmmaking b/c 'To be more shocking I would've had to kill somebody and I wasn't going to do that.'
In a promotional email sent out announcing this issue, the OPEN SPACE editors proclaimed:
"As a longtime supporter, you already know something of our guiding aspiration to extend the boundaries and horizons of the community of creative thinkers and artmakers. After fifteen years of publication, we believe our new issue has broken through to a significantly new level toward that goal; we have produced a 364-page panoramic, kaleidoscopic book which is composed in a meaningful way to lead you through a huge diversity of subjects treated with consummate seriousness, personal investment, and creative originality.
"The current issue of The Open Space Magazine includes an introduction to magical practice"
& it's this latter sentence (chopped off in my excerpting of it here) that leads to my next comments. Robert Podgurski provides a "Graphic: First Enochian Call to Spirit" that I find interesting to look at in a similar way to the way I enjoy Visual Poetry or a score. Peteris Cedrins also contributes things occult-relevant. I particularly like his imagistic writing:
"'Twas the night before feminism, & all through the hows ... ... ... the stirrings of rats, & at night there are bats in your hair. The colibri of hope are finally kaput, to be eaten like ortolan. Laima's lord tells of the south wind, wch years ago brought blistering heat to the village. Between two to four hundred prostitutes were deported to northern Kazakhstan as anti-Societ elements. Kiss the doorknob, kids would say, & you'll see Riga. It was an iron doorknob, of course, In the dead of winter. Lick it. Eat the bunting." - p 33
Other Podgurski sigils & a poem close the issue. The PNM logo in White's article quoted above looks very much like a sigil too. I'm reminded of my own fanciful theory that sigils are actually circuit diagrams for controlling energy flow (both metaphorically & directly). Maybe someday I'll actually build circuits somehow based on them & see what happens when electricity is introduced.
As w/ White's recalling that "several Yale graduate music theory students hassled me in 1981 with: "it's just poetry"—as if "poetry" was a dirty word, as if expressive verbal language was an irrelevance" & can easily imagine that happening here in reference to "an introduction to magical practice". But, to me, it's the mindset that I'm interested in. One ex-girlfriend who was a poet was interested in experimental writing but her tastes in relation to music were pop all the way. I've never understood that. Why differentiate so between disciplines? It's the experimentation that does it for me....more
A DI(diot's)Y's Guide to Iannis Xenakis' Formalized Music dedicated to the memory of my friend James "Sarmad" Brody, whose writings on Xenakis reachedA DI(diot's)Y's Guide to Iannis Xenakis' Formalized Music dedicated to the memory of my friend James "Sarmad" Brody, whose writings on Xenakis reached me by age 20, to my friend Brainpang who gave me MANY Xenakis recordings & to my friend Unfinished Symphonies who gave me this bk by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - March 7 - 10, 2013
The following is a just a small portion of the complete review. As usual, I recommend reading the full thing. BUT WHO WILL?!
REVIEW: March 7, 2013 (16th day of juice fast):
From Xenakis' "Preface to the Second Edition":
"The formalization that I attempted in trying to reconstruct part of the musical edifice ex nihilio [reviewer's note: Latin for "out of nothing"] has not used, for want of time or capacity, the most advanced aspects of philosophical and scientific thought. But the escalade is started and others will certainly enlarge and extend the new thesis. This book is addressed to a hybrid public, but interdisciplinary hybridization frequently produces superb specimens." - p vii
Really?! This bk may not use "the most advanced aspects of philosophical and scientific thought" but it goes much further than ANYTHING that his hypothetical "hybrid public" (w/ myself as an exemplary instance here) is ever likely to aspire to. IMO, Xenakis has upped the ante for human intelligence so high that humanity shd be proud that he even existed. If 10 stars were an available rating, I'd give this an 11.
From Xenakis' "Preface to Musiques Formelles":
"For this purpose the qualification "beautiful" or "ugly" makes no sense for sound, not for the music that derives from it; the quantity of intelligence carried by the sounds must be the true criterion of the validity of a particular music." - p ix
From Chapter 1: "Free Stochastic Music":
"Art, and above all, music has a fundamental function, which is to catalyze the sublimation that it can bring about through all means of expression. It must aim through fixations which are landmarks to draw towards a total exaltation in which the individual mingles, losing his consciousness in a truth immediate, rare, enormous, and perfect. If a work of art succeeds in this undertaking even for a single moment, it attains its goal. This tremendous truth is not made of objects, emotions, or sensations; it is beyond these, as Beethoven's Seventh Symphony is beyond music. This is why art can lead to realms that religion still occupies for some people." - p 1
I don't agree w/ this, I don't think art/music has a "fundamental function", etc, etc.. & I don't think that "Beethoven's Seventh Symphony is beyond music." But this gives you an idea of what Xenakis strives for & I think he more than succeeds in providing the (v)audience for his music w/ a profoundly moving experience. If this bk had gone downhill in intensity from here I might've been disappointed. But, no, it only escalates.. & escalates..
Xenakis even provides us w/ "an analysis of a fragment of Sonata, Op. 57 (Appassionata), by Beethoven". (p 164)
As I write this, I'm going to listen to most or all of the Xenakis recordings I have. During the last few paragraphs I've already listened to "Diamorphoses" (1956-57), "Concret P-H" (1958), & "Analogiques A + B" (1958). Now I'm listening to "Orient-Occident" (1959-60). Coming up is "Orient-Occident III" (1959-60) followed by "Bohor I" (1962). All electro-acoustic music.
In the case of those many of us for whom the Philips Pavilion that Xenakis designed (who's an architect on top of his other talents) at the 1958 World's Fair is a landmark event in the history of the world, the drawings on pp 7-8 are worth the price of admission alone (In my case the "cost of admission" was free insofar as my friend Unfinished Symphonies gave me this bk after he got it at a library sale). Take the 1st paragraph of this caption for illustration B: "A ruled surface consisting of two conoids, a and d, is laid through the curve bounding the right half of the "stomach." The straight directrix of d passes through the first peak, and the outermost generatrix at this side forms a triangular exit with the generatrix of e. The straight directrix of a passes through a second peak and is joined by an arc to the directrix of d." (p 7)
For those readers not familiar w/ the famous Philips Pavilion, I quote from James Brody's liner notes to Xenakis' Electro-Acoustic Music record:
[Xenakis'] "Concret P-H along with Edgar Varèse's Poème électronique, one of the works composed for the Philips Pavilion of the 1958 Brussels World's Fair; the work's aim was psychologically to prepare the public for the spectacle designed by Le Corbusier in the interior of the Pavilion and accompanied by Varese's music. Four hundred loudspeakers, lining the interior of the shell, were required to fill up the space with the sonic scintillations of Concret P-H and to effect a common emanation from architecture and music, conceived as an entity: the roughness of the concrete and its coefficient of internal friction was echoed in the timbre of the scintillations. The architecture of the pavillion, conceived and executed for Le Corbusier by Xenakis, was based entirely on non-developable ruled surfaces, or "hyperbolic paraboloids" (paraboloïdes ou hyperboliques - P.H.)" [reviewer's note: I suspect that the "ou" in the preceding shd be "du" or "de" but I'm quoting verbatim.]
& Xenakis has this to say in Formalized Music: "If glissandi are long and sufficiently interlaced, we obtain sonic spaces of continuous evolution. It is possible to produce ruled surfaces by drawing the glissandi as straight lines. I performed this experiment with Metastasis (this work had its premier in 1955 at Donaueschingen). Several years later, when the architect Le Corbusier, whose collaborator I was, asked me to suggest a design for the architecture of the Philips Pavilion in Brussels, my inspiration was pin-pointed by the experiment w/ Metastasis. Thus I believe that on this occasion music and architecture found an intimate connection. Figs. I-1-5 indicate the causal chain of ideas which led me to formulate the architecture of the Philips Pavilion from the score of Metastasis" (p 10)
Next up in the accompanying music to writing this review is "Kraanerg" (1969), "S.709" (1992), "Concret P-H" (1958), & "Diamorphoses" (1956-57) (can't get enuf of those latter 2 babies!).
It never even occurred to me, until reading this bk, that I've never seen or heard the great conductor & Serialist composer, Pierre Boulez, conducting Xenakis' music. That seems odd given that they're both major figures in 20th century avant-garde music & both France-based. This will explain: "As a result of the impasse in serial music, as well as other causes, I originated in 1954 a music constructed from the principle of indeterminism; two years later I named it "Stochastic Music." The laws of the calculus of probabilities entered composition through musical necessity." (p 8) In other words, Xenakis is critical of musical theories he doesn't personally espouse (surprise, surprise! NOT). The music I love is all produced by strong personalities, driven by their own personal philosophy. Xenakis is a critic of much of it, taking particular aim at Serialism, improvisation, aleatoric music, & graphic notation:
"Before generalizing further on the essence of musical composition, we must speak of the principle of improvisation which causes a furore among the neo-serialists, and which gives them the right, or so they think, to speak of chance, of the aleatory, which they thus introduce into music. They write scores in which certain combinations of sounds may be freely chosen by the interpreter. Two logical infirmities are apparent which deny them the right to speak of chance on the one hand and "composition" on the other (composition in the broad sense, that is):
"1. The interpreter is a highly conditioned being, so that it is not possible to accept the thesis of unconditioned choice, of an interpreter acting like a roulette game. The martingale betting at Monte Carlo and the procession of suicides should convince anyone of this. We shall return to this.
"2. The composer commits an act of resignation when he admits several possible and equivalent circuits. In the name of a "scheme" the problem of choice is betrayed, and it is the interpreter who is promoted to the rank of composer by the composer himself. There is thus a substitution of authors.
"The extremist extension of this attitude is one which uses graphical signs on a piece of paper which the interpreter reads while improvising the whole. The two infirmities mentioned above are terribly aggravated here. I would like to pose a question: If this sheet of paper is put before an interpreter who is an incomparable expert on Chopin, will the result not be modulated in the style and writing of Chopin in the same way that a performer who is immersed in this style might improvise a Chopin-like cadenza to another composer's concerto? From the point of view of the composer there is no interest.
"On the contrary, two conclusions may be drawn: first, that serial composition has become so banal that it can be improvised like Chopin's, which confirms the general impression; and second, that the composer resigns his function altogether, that he has nothing to say, and that his function can be taken over by paintings or by cuneiform glyphs." - p 38
Xenakis has quite the chip on his shoulder!! & I, more or less, completely disagree w/ what he has to say here. Putting aside the concept of "chance", wch brings up a boatload of philosophical baggage regarding 'free-will' vs 'fate', aleatoric music, interpreted here as meaning music based on a game structure, has the composer providing the game & the interpreters providing the game playing. These are 2 different things & many composers & players prefer this approach b/c they find through-notation (such as what Xenakis uses) to be too stultifying - leaving the interpreter too little rm for the manifestation of their personality as anything other than in a subservient position vis-à-vis the composer.
As for the idea of "an interpreter who is an incomparable expert on Chopin" improvising "a Chopin-like cadenza to another composer's concerto"? Why not? I like the idea of having a Chopin expert perform a graphic score & a Xenakis expert performing the same graphic score independently of hearing the Chopin expert's realization. Imagine playing the 2 interpretations back-to-back &/or simultaneously: what wd the differences be? What wd the similarities be? I'm reminded of when Neely Bruce performed what he announced as a Chopin piece at a friend's wedding party in 2006 or thereabouts. He played the piano, it didn't exactly sound like Chopin to me but I don't know Chopin's music very well at all & I enjoyed it nonetheless, the attendees applauded & Neely announced that Chopin never really wrote anything like that - Neely improvised it. Was this less of a musical experience b/c of that?
As for serial composition becoming banal? Perhaps. These days when I read the liner notes to a 1970s academic classical record & read about the composer's choice of tone rows & what-not I usually expect not much imagination b/c by then serialism had become de rigueur for unoriginal academic composers to be taken seriously as 'modern'. But that doesn't rule out the greatness of such proto-Serialists such as Schönberg & Messiaen or hard-core serialists like Boulez or composers who experimented w/ Serialism in one or more pieces like Hiller.
A major factor in Xenakis' criticism of other composers' approaches to games is that his approach specifically references Game Theory in its mathematical purity:
"Before passing to the problem of the mechanization of stochastic music by the use of computers, we shall take a stroll in a more enjoyable realm, that of games, their theory, and application in musical composition." - p 110
"Let us imagine a competitive situation between two orchestras, each having one conductor. Each of the conductors directs sonic operations against the operations of the other. Each operation represents a move or a tactic and the encounter between two moves has a numerical and/or a qualitative value which benefits one and harms the other. This value is written in a grid or matrix at the intersection of the row corresponding to move i of conductor A and the column corresponding to move j of conductor B. This is the partial score ij, representing the payment one conductor gives the other. This game, a duel, is defined as a two-person zero-sum game." - p112
A "zero-sum game" being one in wch the winnings match the losses in quantity. I stress the word "competitive" regarding the above - but not all games are competitive. Some are explorations of possibilities playfully approached in wch there aren't necessarily any losses & in wch the gains might just be whatever the player gets out of the experience. This is much more my approach. Xenakis's music is highly influenced by the intense experiences he had as a Communist student resistance fighter during WWII against the Nazi occupation of Greece. During this time, his face was hit by a tank shell, blowing out one eye & much of his cheek. Now, cf Mauricio Kagel's telling of the composition of his game piece "Match für 3 Spieler" (1964) as told in Kagel's (translated) liner notes for a realization of it on the avant garde label:
"When I woke up on the morning of the 1st August 1964 I suddenly became aware of the fact that I had dreamed the complete course of a piece of music, and to an incredibly detailed degree. I was still able to remember all the particulars, above all - naturally - the fact that the two cellists were placed near the front of the platform on either side, with the percussion player between them as "umpire". The details of performance, with the types of sound, methods of articulation and gesticulation, and above all the markedly "sporting" character of the piece, remained in my mind with the utmost clarity. At that time I was working on a composition for entirely different forces and with a totally different disposition of the material; I could see no relationship, as regards either content or form, between the sound world of the two concepts. I did not want to give up work on the piece on which I was already engaged in order to bring a dream to realization. Nine nights later, however, the dream performance was repeated, with the same clarity of detail as before. I was perturbed, this time I made notes, and tried to define the elusive time element of the imaginary music in terms of concrete tempi. On the following morning I realized that the dream had been repeated yet again. This time I laid everything aside, in the belief that fate had knocked three times, and that it was high time to do what was required of me. - I wrote this Match in sound within seven days. The dream has never again been repeated, which is a pity, because I should like to compare it to the finished score." ...more
Given that this is my bk, this is more of a promotional statement than a review.
The 1st paragraph reads:
"When I was a child, I was a very good matheGiven that this is my bk, this is more of a promotional statement than a review.
The 1st paragraph reads:
"When I was a child, I was a very good mathematician. I was also good at drawing. I remember thinking, when I was 9 yrs old, something to the effect that a mathematician's life was probably too socially isolated & not much fun & I decided that, therefore, it might be better for me to be an artist."
40 yrs passed & while I still played w/ the math that most interested me, such as set theory & imaginary numbers, my math skills largely waned. Then, in 2003, at age 49, I decided to read Simon Singh's bk "Fermat's Enigma" as an experiment in determining what was left of my ability to understand math. That lead to reading more math bks aimed at lay readers.
5 yrs later I thought I might as well try to WRITE a math bk - as an experiment to see if I cd actually do it. I envisioned it as around 160pp. 6 wks later, it was done - 408pp! I was very, very pleased. In some sense, this bk became my most articulated philosophical statement.
The next step was to send out the ms to 2 friends, poet/scholar Bruce Stater & musician/conceptualist 'Charles Boyd' (aka John Berndt), for them to add MARGINALIA to it. It was a part of my design plan to have the marginalia be referred to in the original text & for the 'marginalia' to be printed in the original bk - thusly possibly making this one of the 1st & only bks to be so designed.
The basic idea of the bk is that certain concepts create PARADIGM SHIFTS - thusly getting away from (somewhat) the notion that only technology (such as the printing press & the telescope) produce paradigm shifts. Various turning point mathematical concepts are then explored as examples of this.
The cover of the bk shows a knuckle tattoo that I have that consists of the following variation on a famous equation of Leonard Euler's (expressed here in so-called 'natural language'):
e to the power of pi times i + one to the power of infinity is approximately equal to zero.
"e" & "pi" are both transcendental numbers that serve as constants.
"i" is the symbol for "imaginary numbers" generally represented as the square root of negative one.
The whole shebang is meant to be representative of multiple paradigm shift concepts culminating in an indeterminate form. A "knuckle sandwich" is a punch. I like to think of this knuckle tattoo as a symbol for the punches to worldviews that concepts like "infinity" have brought w/ them.
Alas, Franz, I'm not about to give this bk the review it deserves b/c I'm too busy being in the midst of making my documentary about you (& a zillAlas, Franz, I'm not about to give this bk the review it deserves b/c I'm too busy being in the midst of making my documentary about you (& a zillion other things) to have the time. W/ that disclaimer as a preface, here goes:
In my review of Kamin's "Distance Function" (see http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17...), I wrote: "Dream descriptions flow in & out of personal memoir flow in & out of mathematics flow in & out of definitions of neologisms flow in & out of sexual reference.. Is this non-Hausdorff Space? I think so." In "Ann Margret [..]", this is further complicated by the addition of lists, made-up 'child-like' play language, & even somewhat conventional poetic form. These latter don't actually flow together in a "non-Hausdorf" way b/c these varieties ARE separable.
In the preceding paragraph, I call attn to a relevant tangent: the spelling of "non-HAUSDORFF" in Franz's writing. This might seem trivial to some, but what I hope to demonstrate is that attn to detail, esp in the work of someone as meticulous as Kamin, is indeed deeply important for understanding - b/c the microcosm is, of course, the key to the macrocosm.
Again, in my review of "Distance Function" I wrote:
"If, in topology (a major influence on Kamin's work in general), Hausdorff Space is space w/ separable points, then non-Hausdorff Space is, as Kamin puts it elsewhere (in "A RITUAL EMBEDDING OF THE SPIDER'S RISK into non-HAUSDORF M-SPACE", eg) is "non-separable . . . that is, one cannot necessarily differentiate one locale from another." By the by, "Hausdorff" w/ 2 "f"s seems to be the 'correct' spelling but Franz spells it w/ one "f"."
Note that I put "correct" in single quotes: 'correct' in the above. This is in order to call attn to the viability of 'correctness' in this context. In other words, one person's 'correct' may be another person's 'incorrect'. This is particularly so in the case of writers like Kamin who use words in very, very particular ways. When I sent out my review for friends of Franz's to read, one of them seemed to take offense at my 'correcting' Franz's spelling of "Hausdor(f)" - pointing out, understandably, that Franz always did such things intentionally.
This type of detail is of central importance to my own writing. My 1st bk, "t he bk / t he referent 4 wch consists of / t he non-materialized transparent punch-outs from a letter/whatever stencil" (see: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25...) is similarly exacting in its particular d liberate idiosyncracies. & this bk was written mainly from 1975 to 1976 & published in 1977 - both before "Distance Function" came out & 3 yrs before "Ann Margret [..]" came out. As such, I think I can accurately claim that my own writing along these lines predates Kamin's - despite my being 12 yrs younger than him. For more info on my own usually overlooked & misunderstood deep structure, I recommend reading the "Dos & Don'ts of Dating" section of my "footnotes" bk (see: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23...).
BACK TO KAMIN & THE SPELLING OF HAUSDORF(F). In the 1974 hand-out of "A RITUAL EMBEDDING of the SPIDER'S RISK into non-HAUSDORF M SPACE" that I found at the 11th Annual Avant-Garde Festival in New York on November 15, 1974, Franz spelled HAUSDORF w/ one "f" at the end - this, despite the conventional spelling being w/ 2 "f"s. In "Distance Function" it's the same again. HOWEVER, in "Ann Margret [..]", where both "A Ritual [..]" & "Distance [..]" reappear, there's a significant difference. Observant readers will notice that in "Ann Margret [..]" TWO versions of "A Ritual [..]" appear - the 2nd version being the "[Kelly Expansion]" - presumably a reference to poet & Kamin friend Robert Kelly.
In "Ann Margret Loves You"'s CONTENTS for both of these variations, "HAUSDORFF" is spelled w/ 2 "FF"s. However, in the 1st iteration of the text on pp 18 & 19 of the bk, in both the title & w/in the body of the text, "HAUSDORF" is spelled w/ only one "F" - but in the 2nd iteration (on pp 48-50) the title has only one "F" (in what I deduce to be Franz-intentional systematic opposition to the CONTENTS listing) but in the body of the text "HAUSDORFF" is spelled w/ TWO "FF"s. These variations, I maintain, are, indeed, NOT A MISTAKE - but what do they mean? Quite possibly, I suggest, not much of anything in the sense that they may not represent a deep symbolic system. Here are my suggestions:
1. Franz, being an extreme alcoholic (& pothead) at most or all of the time of the writing of all of these texts, made a mistake in the spelling of Hausdorff's name - partially as a result of the alcoholism & partially just b/c he was human & didn't always remember everything - despite his, no doubt, extraordinary memory in general.
2. Franz deliberately Americanized Hausdorff by removing the, in English, phonetically 'unnecessary' 'extra' "f". My case to support this possibility is rooted in Franz's pronunciation of his own name: FrANNz. This pronunciation is the Americanized pronunciation that's unlike the more European FrAHHnz. Franz's pronunication is still resisted to this day by most of his friends - who prefer to use the FrAHHnz pronunication. I further suggest that most intellectuals carefully pronounce words & names rooted in languages other than their own w/ at least an attempt at a simulation of the originating language's pronunciation as a way of both showing a scholarly knowledge of such pronunciation AND as a way, esp in the case of 'Americans', of showing that they don't necessarily side w/ the arrogance of what is often 'American' cultural imperialism. In other words, ignorant 'Americans' often Americanize all pronunciation as if to say "Tha way we 'mericans speak is the way all the rest of you dumb fuckers shd speak - what the fuck's da matter wid you?!" I suggest that FrANNz d liberately Americanized both Hausdorff & FraAHHnz as a rebellion against the hypothetical worldview of his German expatriate parents.
Keep in mind, that I AM ONLY SPECULATING HERE & HAVE NO PRETENSE THAT I 'KNOW' WHAT frANNz WAS THINKING AT THE TIME. However, I do think that my hypothesis is a solid one & is a potential microcosm indicator of Franz's stubbornly free-thinking macrocosmic behavior(s).
On the cover of "Ann Margret Loves You" there's a foto-collage made by Chuck Stein in collaboration w/ Kamin. It shows the translucent white back silhouette of a naked woman, perhaps implied by the title to be Ann Margret (who Franz was obsessed w/ at the time) but actually that of his lover Kathy Bourbonais - to whom the last section of the bk, "RUGUGMOOL", is dedicated. A hand draws on her lower back & ass what, in a discussion vaudeo-recorded for the documentary I'm making, Chuck Stein referred to as a "sigil" (wch is reproduced on the lower left of the 2pp title page(s)) but wch looks more to me like a game play - somewhat like a football game plan except that its significance may be vaguely mathematical (or, in a non-HAUSDORFF way, a combination of a profile drawing of a man's head w/ the preceding 2 possibilities). In the lower right, there's a picture of an old gravestone for "Jacob Lane". Jacob Lane was a child (possibly stillborn?) who was buried in the Barrytown graveyard near the Station Hill HQ where Franz spent much of his time when this bk was being written. Franz was, perhaps, 'obsessed' w/ this child/grave & did a sound poetry piece at the 12th International Sound Poetry Festival in NYC on Wednesday, April 16th, 1980 called "The Eradication of New York Subway Graffiti by Jacob Lane" at Washington Square Church. This, according to Sarmad Brody's generally excellent (albeit incomplete) online list of Kamin's work was only performed one other time & I don't know if there's an extant recording. Perhaps people intimately connected w/ the festival such as Mitch Highfill wd know. In the cover, the background that can be seen thru the nude woman's body is of woods - perhaps the same woods as those in the environment that the graveyard is in. These images seem to combine similar elements key to Kamin's psyche as those of the texts of the bk.
INSIDE, the CONTENTS lists:
" THE LONG WINDOWS YELLOW ROOM NON-TEK ESSAY ON GORPPLING BLACK NEW YORK A RITUAL EMBEDDING of the SPIDER'S RISK into non-HAUSDORFF M-SPACE THE SPAGHETTI PHALLAXY 5 BREATHING MOMENTS for EVE ROSENTHAL on her BIRTHDAY COBORDON DISTANCE FUNCTION A RITUAL EMBEDDING of the SPIDER'S RISK into non-HAUSDORFF M-SPACE [Kelly Expansion] PRETextS 2 Bicycles Statements on Doing Nothing The Ann Margret Rap Jelly Beans & the Peanut Butter Skreeb First Door Mac Low KCCK KOTEXT RUGUGMOOL/LOVE OF MOON "
In 'THE LONG WINDOWS" Kamin provides this list:
" I am also haunted by: .) Spinning disks as they turn and swirl .) Small sad dogs .) Slowly rolling eggs in quantities of nine or more .) Smashed up automobiles abandoned by the roadside .) Dried up bottles of ink .) Urinals lost in the woods near old children's camps .) Old women who fall down and break their teeth .) Torn up kites stuck in treess .) Old file cases tossed in the gutter .) The names of old girl friends .) Mathematical transport networks .) Wispy strands of red hair floating on stagnant ponds .) The odor of gingerbread and wet mattresses .) The sound of tin cans being moved by the wind in the streets .) The edges of gravel roads .) The eyes of tiny animals as they are dying .) Morphogenic models of mass catastrophes .) Bent bicycle wheels .) The letter O " In "Black New York (Programming story for Behavioral Drift II)", Kamin writes, in his oneiric description: "...many stops later when we again interrupt the silence of our talking, a small girl comes to the side of the boat and asks if I will spend the night with her (her hair is shiny black - her hair is shiny black - her eyes glow) and I silently explain to her of her homotopy to Marie" [bold mine]. This phrase, "Homotopy to Marie" is later used as the title of a musique concrete LP (&, later, K7 & CD) by Nurse with Wound. What does this mean? According to the Wikipedia entry re "Homotopy": "In topology, two continuous functions from one topological space to another are called homotopic (Greek ὁμός (homós) = same, similar, and τόπος (tópos) = place) if one can be "continuously deformed" into the other, such a deformation being called a homotopy between the two functions." Some might suggest that words more familiar to the lay-reader such as "similarity to" cd be substituted in Kamin's text to produce "her similarity to Marie" w/ 'no harm done'. While I acknowledge that Kamin's frequent use of Topological vocabulary doesn't always serve apparent non-obfuscatory purposes, I think that the use of the Topology term here has a psychological function insofar as it implies that in oneiric situations if one person is similar to another, it's b/c they're both originating from the same topological space in the mind - ie: the girl is a distortion of Marie - there are TWO (or more) Maries. Desire populates the mind in 'strange' ways.
Thanks to an interview w/ Kamin's St Paul based friend electro-acoustic composer Matthew Smith, I'm able to recognize places where Franz lived in his descriptions. His childhood home, eg, is probably referenced on p32 in "COBORDON": "in the glooming of a forest reside the cottages - my father is in the main building - from one of the out-buildings, I can see the dimly lighted windows vaguely illuminating the dark logs of the outer walls ...I can see the moon floating above the valley, dim shadows of trees; I can hear the night and the sound of dogs barking across the valley in their madness, their aloneness, their need for permeability, their need to become fluid (thus exuding the stream of their yelping) ...I am making the piano sing to all this a structure of configurations which does not interfere with my hearing of the light coming from the windows of my own cabin". Note that Kamin writes "I can hear the night" & "my hearing of the light" - I contend that these are self-consciously synaesthetic usages informed by his own "Concert of Doors" from (what was probably February 23rd) 1973 AND presaging his corporation created w/ his old friend & collaborator John Beaulieu (they met in 1971) called "Synaesthetics Inc" (papers filed on October 7, 1981).
On page 37 of the same chapter he continues the same dream-like description of his childhood home:
"On the next day, Lisa and my father and I are all seated on the lower terrace (connected to the back of the main building and also overhanging the hundred foot cliff): sunlight is brilliant (my father is in his underwear, Lisa's blouse if very low cut - her skirt short and white) I am explaining something ... my father goes off to the west to cook us some steaks on one of the outdoor grills - Lisa wanders away to stair down into the valley - I want to go for a last time out on the lake in my boat - watching the huge pines swaying (I can only see the tops) growing from the level below the cliffs - a dog barks and deepens my trance (I remember Marie & Jeanne being here) - there is a smell of cooking meat - "epivaculoid" he said, "no" she said-"
Note that in this only slightly oneiric description there's introduced a 'disruptive' element at the end of the paragraph. As the reader is led to expect an invitation of meat from the father to Lisa, the father 'offers' instead "epivaculoid" - thusly merging apparent memoir w/ tinges of dreams w/ the 'mathematics' of both the title ("COBORDON") & an apparent neologism of Kamin's that's also the name of a 1975 composition of his. "EPIVACULOID: the skin around a shape which eventually contains no space..." is the definition provided in the chapter's initial glossary.
Thanks to John Beaulieu, I also recognize a description of the loft on Leonard St where he & Franz lived together in NYC in the "2 Bicycles" section of the "PRETextS" section.
Interestingly, the form of "5 Breathing Moments for Eve Rosenthal on her Birthday" is the most conventional insofar as it's poetry & NOT prose. I write "Interestingly" b/c poetry is far more often formally experimental than prose is - so in Franz's case this is somewhat reversed (at least here).
"Ann Margret Loves You & other psychotopological diversions" is Kamin's 1st bk that's not a chapbk & is partially a collection of previously published writings & texts used in recordings: "Black New York" appeared as the narration on the excellent LP that Station Hill published around the same time, "Distance Function" had been published by Station Hill in December of 1977 as a chapbk, "Jelly Beans & the Peanut Butter Skreeb" had been published in a somewhat more complex form in the magazine "sixpack" in 1975, other texts had appeared in LOS, TEXT, & WCH WAY; & "RUGUGMOOL" had also appeared in performed/recorded form on the afore-mentioned wonderful LP as well as in a beautifully printed scribbly fold-out version that Station Hill had published in 1979.
"RUGUGMOOL/LOVE OF MOON" is a personal favorite - both as a composition & as a text. In the 1979 printed version, only the made-up language version of the text appears - & this in extremely small print that I can only read w/ the aid of a magnifying lens. It may literally be something like 4 or 5 point type. What dominates in that version are the scribbly illustrations. In the "Ann Margret [..]" version the drawings are gone & the made-up text appears on the left pages while the English translation appears on the right side.
"Furds dak Bearg Haags dak Moo nokaTor BuggerfriedSep fr den Bangx"
is translated as:
"First that Bear has that Moon not as all Butterfly-set for the Dance"
Unfortunately, as usual, subtleties of spacing are unreproduceable w/in the confines of the GoodReads technical limits.
In the colophon at the end, it's noted that
"This First Edition consists of 1300 copies of which 37 are specially bound, numbered & signed."
I speculate that the choice of 37 special copies reflects the author's probable age during most of the writing of this. ...more
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I've just recently written a math humor bk entitled "Paradigm Shift Knuckle Sandwich & other examples of PNT (Perverse Number Theory)" wch heavilyI've just recently written a math humor bk entitled "Paradigm Shift Knuckle Sandwich & other examples of PNT (Perverse Number Theory)" wch heavily references "Gödel, Escher, Bach". You shd read that for a fairly in-depth review (if & when it's ever published). ...more