Sunday, May 1, 2011

bad dress rehearsal = good performance?

Yesterday, I presented a rough draft of the big paper and in doing so several facets of my project were illuminated. 1) "Rebellion and Reclamation" is not a twenty minute paper. 2) R and R is no so much of an answer to the question of performing eighteenth-century music in the twenty first century, but rather a series of questions regarding the body and its relationship to musical and artistic practice. This, clearly, is the problem: "the body and its relationship to musical and artistic practice"?! I may as well call it 'On Being Alive: Aesthetics, Phenomenology, and Subjugation.' Right. More specifically, I completely bumbled what I wanted to say about the evolution of time (manipulation/experience of, use as disciplinary practice, connection to late-twentieth century "un-reality") from the monastic tradition to the enlightenment, to nascent and modern capitalism. For my own piece of mind:

The body, Foucault tells us, provided a primary locus for political and social control in the eighteenth century. Appropriating temporal controls from religious sources, the eighteenth century establishment utilized various mechanisms to manipulate behavior and create ideological norms that would function as disciplinary practices. Bodies were thus disciplined not only by observation and classification, but by a system that intentionally manipulated the perception and utilization of time.

Indeed, it was not enough to merely exist in time, rather the concept of disciplinary time required purity and "precision." [1] This urge to temporal cleanliness belies the epoch's predilection for order: a purity of form and function, of purpose and execution. Structure--spatial and temporal--is espoused; filigree eschewed.

Foucault describes a "anatomo-chronological schema of behavior" Noting that in these disciplinary practices, "the act is broken down into its elements; the position of the body, limbs, articulations is defined; to each movement are assigned a direction, an aptitude, a duration; their order of succession is prescribed. Time penetrates the body and with it all the meticultous controls of power." [2] In this instance, Foucault references the disciplinary practices associated with military training, however, one could just as easily apply his description of a deconstructed act to a musical practice. [3]

In the nineteenth century, Marx observed the insidious collusion of time and work. The mechanized temporality introduced via conventions and inventions of the eighteenth century functions not only as a disciplinary practice, but also a means by which the individual worker is dehumanized. Man is both deindividualized and transfigured. Becoming an interchangeable part in a vast capitalist machine, the work and the worker coalesce in a modern manipulation of temporality and meaning. This hybrid of form and functionality is monstrous; its post-modern manifestation rife with myriad implications.

For Baudrillard, time--in its perception and utilization--mimics our present relationship to materials and information. Technological advances have collapsed our perception of time. Intoxicated by speed and the absence of temporal mediation, our virtual personae exist not only outside the body, but also outside linear time. Time, like information and material, has proliferated into an omnipresence of static sameness.

[1] Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Pantheon Books, 1977. 151
[2] Ibid, 152
[3] When I originally wrote this, I gave myself a good hearty pat on the back for original thought in my observation. Last night, I dove into Paul Virilio's The Art of the Motor, only to find this passage waiting for me: "...that quasi-military conditioning music allows with its rhythmic codes, regressing to the classic scales of archaic music, associated with notions of distance, timbre, and echo." (48) Similar, no?

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