“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dancing about Architecture

Harman's recent post on music got me thinking. People love to churn out that old chestnut, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Especially on National Public Radio. In any case, I always thought dancing about architecture sounded like a good idea.

And in OOO terms, this is what all objects are doing with each other. After all, no object truly contacts another one. They really only share what Graham Harman calls their “notes.” So architecture columns (or whatever it does) about human relationships. And dogs sniff about trees (nicely, “about” can also mean “around”). And pencils pencil about pencil sharpeners.

Imagine a world where we could ONLY play music if we wanted to “talk about” music. It would be like John Malkovich's nightmare world, as narrated by Levi Bryant, with music as Malkovich. Music musics about music. Or as Joyce writes somewhere, “love loves to love love.”

No. We clap about music, we dance about music, we play music about music, we write about music—all these things are not the very same music about which we are performing.

Alvin Lucier's long thin wire
vibrates about the people walking through the installation. The storm storms concerning the chimney it blows through (Heidegger's nice example). The calculator calculates concerning the bank balance I'm anxious about. The birds bird about the BP oil slick, telling us about it in bird metaphors. And writing writes about music. Just like dancing about architecture. How nice.


Cait Emma said...

How does this relate linguistically?

We live within worlds "contained" by our language and can only perceive objects/hyper-objects, people, places etc. by the conceptualized language we are conditioned to speak.

Does this mean that our imprisonment of linguistics is both real and not real (like the self and the non-self)?

Perhaps I'm not making sense, but language is the way we perceive say, Music. I perceive Music as an English-speaker would, whereas someone who speaks Cantonese would experience Music differently because of the different container they are in.

How would that relate to your post about language being irrelevant to describing/ experiencing Music with Music or architecture without dancing?

Phanero Noemikon said...

The architecture and dancing connection is addressed quite well
in one instance in Indra Kagis McEwen's book

Socrates' Ancestor.