“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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mind Jazz 2

We live in a universe of pathos, as Harman's teacher Alphonso Lingis might argue—so one single, brittle, cold logically coherent argument won't get you far. The medium is the message—not because there's no message. But because there is one.

That's how I ended my first installment on Graham Harman and style. So what is the message?

Well let's put it this way. Picture the scene: a bunch of jaded hipsters are sitting around a bar. It's late at night and the band is putting away its instruments. The sax player is still awake, though, he's talking to the hipsters.

“I'm so sick of everything I hear nowadays, you know?” says one. “You just know how everything's going to turn out from the first note.”

“Yeah,” agrees another, cooler-than-thou. “But thank God we got out of that really lame old school stuff. That stuff got old.”

“Sure,” says the sax player. “But you guys sound like you're fighting yesterday's war. Maybe there's something in that old stuff you haven't heard yet.”

“Like what?” asks the first, fondling his final beer and staring glassy eyed into the middle distance.

“Well, maybe the point is not to keep trying to shock yourself with new stuff. There's only so much a nervous system can take, man. Hey, listen to this. It's an old standard but I think you'll like the way I've redialed it.”

So he starts to play. The sound is hypnotic, like a cat with dangerous eyes.

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