|from The Politics of Poetic Form: Poetry and Public Policy, ed. Charles Bernstein (Roof Books, 1992)
Praxis: A Political Economy of Noise and Informalism
Language praxis, the task, remains veiled. What parallels can we draw (abstractly, even ventriloquially) between theorizing about change and theorizing aesthetically about radical art — here, keyed to the question of sound in contemporary writing?
Both Theodor Adorno's music writings — especially his 1961 "Vers une musique informelle," in Quasi una fantasia (New York: Verso, 1994) and Jacques Attali's Noise: The Political Economy of Music (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985) theorize the social claims of music in different past periods as well as in the future. After the heyday and then crisis of tonal, thematic music in an era of Representation, the radical freedom of the early 20th century is not sustained (even serial music domesticates it). A trend toward a formalist, systematizing (nonthematic) composition flowers in the pointillist nominalism and material or procedural (even aleatory) fetishism of the postwar avant-gardes — in an era of Repetition. Future hope, in an era of Composition, is held out for a revived radicalism of constructivist noise or athematic "informal music," all accompanied by progressive social claims.
And the parallels for praxis with sound in language? Sound is traditionally domesticated in the melodiousness and semantic underlining of representational writing (grounded in the lyric subject's voice or imagist observation). More recent and apparently less conservative art has sometimes foregrounded the sound dimension, but at the same time risking gutting it of its social charge, either in simplifying rhetorics or drastic systematizing. The challenge for Noise and Informalism in writing is to simultaneously cut the ties which bind sound to traditions of lyric harmony and speech or autonomous, inward-absorbing form and, through drastic and emancipated construction, to highlight what we can call its 'social tone' or its 'semantic music' — in praxis.
The emancipation of sound is held back by the great weight of heritage. Pre-given tradition stuns as unmistakability, covering up its tracks as myth. Established modes: those shock absorbers and seals of approval. Sublimating sound matter into helpfully nudging pointers, traditional norms desubstantialize, offering up a guided tour of genteel, personally agreeable and regularizing reinforcements. Sound has become functional: presentational enactments at the service of a representational ideal, with subheadquarters in Identity and Image. The smoothed, comforting harmony affirms, locks in, and eternalizes. Its restorational hygiene offers ideological solace. Yet equilibrium is fraudulent as long as so much smoothness dishonors the larger incompatibilities nested inside the society outside.
Typically, words' referential pointing is doubly enhanced: first, by their conventional formal harnessing, and next by 'codic doubling' (the use of sound as normalizing reinforcing enactment). Wild sound yields to the individualizing of the lyric subject, with its literary variants of the easily graspable line, the uninterrupted upper-voice melody. More than just preconditions, certain sound patterns help confirm lyricism, offering an image of the subject's triumph over the given, overlooking whatever threatens to slip out from under its control. If representations of subject voice replace the triad of diatonic music, they achieve closure by the accuracy or fullness of their revelations or by epiphany of tantalizing insight rendered imagistically. Inwardness disappears the otherness of its objects. This is a spatializing subjectivism, rejecting the frenetic task of an in-time writing, like sovereign dispositions's usual moneyed power over the sound object.
Still, taken-for-granted assumptions of speech and lyric spontaneity seem shabbier and shabbier when framed against the social wave of crimes against spontaneity, against the sham afterlife of protected 'free speech,' with subjectivity squeezed down to mere commodity object status within games of oneup-personship. All that tends to get registered, at very low volume levels, is the puny place of any single voice barely emanating out from inside its harmonious upholstery.
Freedom, liberated from preexisting forms, could champion sensual appearance without succumbing to conventional legality or resorting to this brand of sugariness. Restrictive norms that would wish to settle the destiny of harmonic motives or themes (or, in our parallels, of Image and Identity)confront an insatiability about sound. In doing so, they come to learn their own chintzy artificiality and damage. If musical dissonance offers an index of he lack of freedom faced by the unreconciled subject, a parallel sonic dissonance in free and 'unfitting' verse may operate similarly. To take the full measure of sense in sound would celebrate non-identity, perhaps even obliviousness of self, or at least disrupt the cozy traces of personalization.
To honor time as the heart of the centrifugal tendencies that dishevel the identity of the subject and the stability of the traditions we take for granted. To jettison the deceptively calm and uniform surface. To disrupt clarity. To shake down — nominalize — the units. To discredit overall (representation-reinforcing) consonance. Once we do, this opens
up bigger intervals, for maximal registral and rhythmic and colorist variety. And it points ahead.
Dissonance expands the possible range of what can bear momentum and drive it forward — to make incompletions (or frictions) that solicit a resolution in the future. Instead of information, this is deformation — a universalizing of tension, stoking chaos, by denser (and freer) articulation.
Here is catastrophe in music and sound, as nominalism shocks system. A traditional form meltdown, in the wake of the free-floating. An atomization that threatens to make it impossible for any pleasingly meaningful whole to be contracted. The givenness of norms and materials (the relations of literary production) becomes deformed by the forces of production (new sounds,techniques, the foregrounding of dissonance).
Here is a Revolution of the Word with an infinitesimalism, via micrological method and a cubist dismantling of the surface. We start with amore decentralized system, with an already perforated surface and nominalist dissociation, leaving the tiniest capillaries unobligated by form. The easily graspable voice dissolves into small recurrent motifs: the ones which were themselves supposed to have dissolved into mere stage props for the homogeneousvoice. Now they are just building blocks of noise.
Noise as wayward, unregimented sound. Or seemingly meaningless, random fluctuations in data — not the 'managed data' which defines information. Too irregular, or pumped up with excess timbral richness, its overtones untameable in harmonic terms, undercutting expectations of determinate pitch (or, in our case, of a representational determinacy and bolstering). A free play that the equivocal, undefinitive quality of sound units in language makes possible — as long as they are not recruited as doubling echoes, indentured to stable systems of stable meaning. Noise as chaos.
Informal construction liberates sound on behalf of a more distantiating praxis, a microtechnique of restiveness. Successions of intervals of emotional expressiveness or social resonance are freer: productive and self-differentiating enough to liquidate the given, to scrap any appeal to obligatory stylistic norms or schemata which have acquired the job of enforcement.
Impulse explodes whatever shape has been consolidated, but larger architectures get to be made plausible — and comprehended by — their own tiny structuring. The sensuous articulation builds a whole out of what will only retrospectively make sense as details.
Parataxis, with its discrete sequence of motivic atoms creates too many gaps 'in the argument' to allow a rationalizing (or modernizing) of, by, and for the individual. It undercuts any single dynamizing teleology or resolution(in a full conversational 'turn' or the clicking shut of imagistic epiphany).Instead, outward holistic form is constantly revoked — as it gets simultaneously, microscopically built
And the mediating work can operate on the sound dimension much more centrally, rather than treating it merely as a spin-off of representational continuities — as in music, with free atonality's highlighting of color, rhythm and timbre, not just harmonic pitch structuring. What is substantial in sound is both a foregrounded (abstract) materiality and a socially-semantic penumbra or kinesthetic 'feel' or texture. And while the former may be susceptible to a deductive/inferential structure that robs it of particularity, the latter can be constructed down to the last detail. Rhythmic figuration, intervallic combustion, timbral shifts and tiny melodic shapes can make an informalist order of sound in writing, going well beyond the simpler buttoning-down of overall reference.
This is a celebration of transition, of perpetuum mobile: beyond the austerity of dissociation, toward larger (and more lushly socially evocative)units of material, to make expectations of self-sufficing pre-set form impossible. With its anti-soothing constructivity, every discrete particle can become a link — pointing sideways, forward, backward, even upside-down — tostart to acquire drive-like possibilities, theme-like force. The active relationship of details in constant intervening alteration gives the work its concrete sound shape: spontaneous reverb, maximal explosiveness of concretely unschematic connectives, colliding textures and motions of heterogeneous instants, constellations setting free the unratified and the nonprefab, shaking down their own provisional architecture: the inexhaustible. Faced with this breakdown of traditional form and this nominalizing of sound not to make the isolated sound into an absolute, but as an emancipatory constructivism.
A recuperative alternative would set up external structures sturdy enough to discipline the freed-up material. (Examples in writing would identify a minor facet of radical (or radicalized) modernism of the post-1945 period, and a major one in so-called avant-garde or experimental writing starting with the1960s. Variants: minimalist, aleatory, proceduralist, concrete, conceptualist, grid-like or tabular.) Here, sound becomes deductive within an imposing organization, sovereign planning, commanded collectivization, mathematical necessity. Detailing the structure all the way down to its smallest cellular differences risks obliterating the finite. Unlike looser, more fluid kinds of coalescence, the dissociated units — words, rather than phrases, lose any specific (melodic) contour. The extra sense (made possible by sound) now derives from the general drilling the particular units, from subsumption (resulting in whiplash). The sounds are de-subjectivized, just as they are in systematic (serial and post-serial) music, where interval succession creates cohesion without regard for melodic shape or tonal connotation.
Systematic structuring, with its immanent and logical ordering of whole and parts, may make disappearing acts out of the local materials. It leads to a tyranny of form over material, over contingency. Events become exemplars, victimized by the grid of quantity, the hygiene of the natural, as if sound (merely) articulates or finishes the form. (Sound, as structure's finishing school?) This leaves us with a desubstantialized formalism, with the meaning expected to derive from an all pervasive technical structure. The brutal stiffing of all social semblance and artifice in sound, the final marching orders of integral form's pure rationality gives us over to a sound-irrelevant anti-mimesis.
But no hull is dependable. Unless it becomes embarrassingly domineering. Rather than a submersion within itself of systematic procedures with their swagger of overdefiniteness, a less formal or informal writing can become a figuration of irreconcilability. Its logic is less deductive (or metaphoric)— with particularities no longer mere consequents — but instead more paratactic or metonymic, its details graspable without any generality hankering to buckle their significance directly and peremptorily onto them. Emancipated from schema, individual associations (in sound) act as hecklers against systemic or robotic indenture. Copula rules. No fixed mode safety-net, no uniforms.
Now, in Adorno's terms, an internal (or aestheticizing) focus outbids an external (or social) one. It makes possible an internal drama, as different from a series of stimulating pictures. Here is that windowless monad which does not address or blink in the direction of the social. These keep gettingin each other's way: the outward tug of reference and the internal structural logic (with its affinity for rhetorical blankness). In writing — just as in film or dance — the raw material almost automatically carries a semantic
charge and mimetic force. (The sound features of language, in contrast, if they steer clear of opportunities for revealing their social significance, i.e., mimesis, might be perfect candidates for such abstract systematizing.) The refractory is a mask. Could we recommend it? The problem is that thepreference for internality threatens to create a self-absorbed, tautologizing blindness with artwork functioning as a desocietalized 'in-itself.' Worse, overarching procedures (or chance or systematic word grids) encourage automatisms, neutralized positivist set-ups or false-fronts for shut-ins.
The more systematized the writing, the more it risks turning into a sleek hypostatizing of means, a correct (and corrective) command structure, a determinacy of fate, in which tautology, redundancy, or homogeneity make individuation superfluous. Spectacle and fetish cling to the entirety ofwords. And so does an avoidance of unimposed time — (and Reading = Time). As f a static spatializing composes words which are not meant to be read. It makes a critically (negative/Brechtian) form of distancing praxis, or ironic rupture, all the more unlikely. As celebrants of abstraction, the materials are being ritualized to the point of losing any specific weight, any need or opportunity to devote to the deciphering of sense 'on your own time' in reading.
But infatuation with the sound material — its pure factuality as an end-in-itself — is no better an alternative. Isn't 'mere sonority' just as likely to become fetishized and transfixed in space? And isn't that what cheap 'sound effects' offer: hyperassonance, hyperrepetition, cornball rhyme, singsong rhythm, the visual page scoring of loudmouth ALL CAPS performance? Mere stimuli — as the culinary, as an anti-reading and a withdrawal of its 'free time.' But the currency is counterfeit.
The non-identical, the qualitatively different: these are social tokens of use-value, more respectfully treated by collage, a principle at odds with any total infiltrating formalist construction. Montage embraces a freedom to rove over maximally various stocks of material. And the pull or magnetizing of closure ceases to operate at the overall level; it resists the obviousness ofboth Image and Identity. Here, no overall functional hierarchy is calling the shots. Juxtaposition of the parts cannot just be illustrative, a mechanical display of the details of subsumption — (e.g., the subsumption of rhythm by the insistent, booming, burlesquing beat). Instead, the micro-structuring makes stability a localized event, not a generalized one — with representational pulls more granularized, yet polyglot: associative irregularities, interwoven and overlapping, chafing and collision, anti-proximities and semanticizing glitches. An altercation, a counter-contagion.
Musically, just as tone color, rhythm, texture and phrasing can replace pitch as a means to create resolution, a parallel emphasis on writing could set aside representational euphony as a focus. Sounds are not fated to help bolster a linear argument or confirm an epiphany. There may be no climax, no argumentative coda or recapitulation — (or need for the reader to serve as theabsorbed target of this recapitulation). No, the writing can put forward its own version of quasi-cadences, or elliptical chords which do not quite resolve into a tonal harmony. The task for praxis is to figure out a way to be emphatically open in its temporality, intrinsically developing — yet without centers, fundamental
grounds , and master keys. With such a free informalism, we cannot predict where the sound is going. And we therefore stay inside the text — partly by avoiding big cadential goal achievements on behalf of cliches, those clicks of the obvious that resound with an associative pull by the status quo outside. (Oral performances — based on the absorptiveness of image, story, or personality — are often prone to undercut this remarkable temporal freedom.)
Sways and surges can stitch polyrhythmic suspensions (not just tension and resolution) to make an extensive anti-epiphany. If new material is constantly being whipped up, or self-animated, a sense of forward momentum may emerge: semiotic mobility, an inner yielding; untamed, prerationalized microscopic crackling liasons that perk up dynamism even without the usual complacencies of surface continuity. An organic ideal of intimate direct contact between the widely disparate materials is called for: a successive camaraderie of great spans, a seamless merging, a way to handle transitions even with apparent non-sequitur (which refers to width of interval, this time in a kind of 'semantic atonality').
Still, praxis needs something more complex than stringing large blocks (orsingularities) of resonating stuff together, something freer than transitions that no longer mediate but simply register the defeat or sacrifice of individual events. Otherwise, it risks losing the forward propulsion ofsound-reinforced 'songs and tales,' trading it for a serial of interesting instants without relation.
One version of that risk is words sounds centered within themselves, in total isolation and arbitrariness of sense. The highly differentiated units of pure nominalism, set alongside each other, can end up in a pointillism or an undifferentiated developmentless swarm. Or: disjointed pastiche, chance successions of ephemeral fragments, a mounted display of spatialized commas and disjunctures. As if: montage = fetishistic still lifes; parataxis = medley.
What is needed instead are more sensuous anti-mechanical dissolutions, homeopathically penetrating the material to its core. The individual units are not imaginative enough. Beyond a deployment of mutually alienated and disinterested sounds, this calls for an increase in chances for them tointermingle, merge, and dissociate. (Yet even density of texture by itself canbecome cloying, an echo chamber effect not unlike 'white noise' — as we sometimes hear in crowdedly multi-voice work in performance or on tape. Sometimes a more spread-out sonic fabric will be more disruptive.) The concrete: the sum of determinations.
This revives a spontaneity of the moment with a semantic rhythmics — (embracing notions like the rate of change or rhythm of meaning, within an often labile tempo, with semantic accelerandi and ritardandi). (Performance offers another opportunity for registering this, although often its commitment to 'breaking through the fourth wall' ends up in charismatic absorptions of the audience into its fixed shapes and closures.) Instead of the crude naked juxtapositions or bold thematic gestures that might more easily yield a finality of shape, we can call for something subtler: elusive filigree, detail perfected within a dynamic syntax to the point where any clear-cut recognizably finite form is virtually ruled out. A free or athematic sound 'prose' of permanent transition and motivic fragmentation, a 'becoming' of constant subdividing and particularizing where even disruption comes to seem developmental because of the flurry of tangible connection. Everything is incessant flow, polylogic.
The task for praxis is to bind these centrifugal forces together: jerry-rigging the disparate, layering the thickets of the incommensurable. Qualities of the basic shape — fluency, contrasts, variety, logic and unity -are allowed to develop out of relationship between units. The material's friction is revived, as independent details help articulate a mesh of contradictions.
Linkage operates with multiple combinations in many directions. A force-field without guarantees; full circumference of sound units made available for a near-infinite play of interpenetration, of rich webs of mutually cross-referential (and anti-foundational) atoms; a juxtacomposed rhythmic (and timbral and colorist) irregularity with most everything capable of pushing up against most everything else.
To read (even the tiniest of) the sounding units as socially relevant isto acknowledge how preshaped they are. This recasts their initial profile as material (and often ornamentally euphonious) 'things of their own,' casting some doubt on these redeemable vouchers of the affirmative and consonant. Even local shape self-liquidates — or turns itself inside out discovering that it too has a 'meaningful' social underlayer and framing capability. Social framing serves as shock, dissonance as testimony, negation, noise. Don't get unexcited!
By means of Noise: to disrupt the flow of communiation, to create extreme libidinalized density, to approach 'white noise' — mixing so many audible frequencies together that no perceivable definite pitch is observed.(And perhaps we can imagine a white noise of rhythm, timbre, lexicon.) Noise — as freely composed dissonance, and untimely mimesis of shock. To reject theuntouchability of auratic beauty. To disturb automatism, to estrange anddisplace, to burst the binding of current usage.
Here, new forces of production (noise) having shaken up the older aestheticized relations of production (conventions of harmoniousness or lyric voicing, for example) can intimate new methods of configuration — even ones that actively subvert their own ground. Yet the mimetic claims of such a dense tangle are not based on the authority of narrative or causal sequences of represented insights. Contagion as negation may give us a better feel for this manic relationism.
All this would allow us to counterpose a new type of mimesis to aesthetic rationality. Mimesis feeds off the 'content' side of sound (and questions the autonomous 'pure music' side of sound in writing). Rational construction, on the other hand, plays off the inward and abstract 'music' side of sound in writing — even if it sometimes seems capable of pointing beyond that monadic inwardness with its temporal dynamic force.)
We can break the rationalizers' mimetic taboo — through freely-disposed relation, resonance chambers of the divergent, multiply shifting and pointing: a self-analytical noise that can develop its possibilities of social framing within itself (on behalf of the reader/listener) rather than impose some externalized social willfulness. Informalism as the construction of reading(that is, listening) opportunities and their spontaneous self-interpreting. And noise, in reading, is risk. Its incessant soliciting of a second significance, an added social layer or stage set, can be Grand Guignol — or the catastrophe of involuntary memory.
Yet this is a choreography of possible reading, not insistent advocacy. The formal (sound) interior need not cater to the (unsound) outside. Like a layered feast with multiple servers, the outside has already catered virtually everything inside. And today even the smooth (inwardly-constellated) sound of a work has become show biz.
Traditionally rhetoric is associated with an extroverted sensual theatrics, hypostatized contours, mesmerized tableaus, extensivity and stasis.(And language in performance often operates in this way, shrinking the wide-open possibilities of sotto voce sound in reading.) It threatens to turn sounds into signals, hyped up as broad gesticulating 'sound effects,' monument facades and decor, as if formulaic sounds are taking bows for the work. Poise and prized enfoldment of details can give way to a search for big striking willful gestures, for outsize intensity, for repetition which revokes time or by the catchy insistent beat which empties it out. Expansive sound (as rhetoric) may go beyond formalism — beyond 'music' and into 'content' — but does so with clumsily direct and decorative lunges at representation.
Are small units only miniature pictures? Little repetitive stagings to help orient the reader? Listener as closure? Gesture, by overtly anticipating reader response, can easily get manipulative — all the more so because of its static, spatializing proclivities. (The staginess of sound in much performance poetry provides an archive.) Gestural theatrics recapitulate the readerresponse in advance, guaranteeing coda-like success. And in a fashion made even more pushy and showy by claims to emanate 'authentically, naturally' from the loudspeaker of the romanticizable self — (in either its genteel-confessional or streety rebel extremes). (Irony just adds an other layer of make-believe to the product.)
The reduction of sound to such signals may help with a project of subgroup boosterism or identity-politics empowerment. But it may also abandon a project of decoding a larger antagonistic social outside. For that, we need to look again at the social subtext of sound — at how it is repressed and howpraxis might excavate it.
The subject has occupied the status of core unit: the motif, the minimally affirmative event, out of which a coherent (consonant and diatonic) discourse would unfold. (Or at least that used to be the hope; don't hold your breath.) With sound, this makes for a neo-romanticism of pleasant heart-warming 'dulcettones,' a vanity of the suspicious and the ephemeral. Thematic (or motivational) work with such a subject involves forging connections between the smallest 'personally mappable' sound units. These singular teleologies — the dynamics of tonality or imagist possession or lyrically 'making the case for the subject') — could perhaps acquire a certain critical edge just from the growing phoniess of individual autonomy within society. Because every part, or aspect, can accomplish something more (or different) than servicing and upholstering the whole. Besides, the motivations of what follows and what does not follow from one moment to the next is partially supplied from outside.
The nonthematic work of formal systematizing — working with nonreferential or chance-organized units, for example — tends to evacuate the subject position. With sound, it empties out the 'touch' of personal resonances. Purist autonomy, with its tact of avoidance, in other words, cancreate so much distance on its own that praxis atrophies. (The athematic work of informalism would retain the personalized texturing but arrange to enhance its social insinuation, to rehistoricize.)
Now, to speak of the sociality of worldly sounds suggests that thematerial embodies a sedimented content — even where the lyric equivalents of the intervallic axis have lost their binding power, where less personalizable rhythm and timbre come to the forefront, where we face the complete play of aural signification. (In music, nominalism may suggest an anti-form. Nominalism (in sound within writing) cuts deeper, but also does not strip the individual items of their social significance. It makes possible an informality.)
The key is to stop treating sound as if it were a natural phenomena, to let the social interrupt all ubiquitous immediacy (of emptier — or full because formalized — sounds). After all, any mechanically total aesthetic organization will be contaminated by social significance, some of which adheres to the differentials of sound and gives them a decodable outward vocation — (something akin to presence). The subsumptions of structure will be a dilution, counteracting the social vectors of individual language cells. Informalist construction, instead, offers a recognition of the opportunities for emancipating the dissonance of social tone. It makes it impossible forthe whole to be merely the sum of its parts, for it acknowledges that theparts occupy an additional plane of intersecting waywardness. It spurs on a disheveling, by multiple axes.
A different kind of rhetoricizing of these individual elements will have to be rescued, so that all this autonomy of a work's outer skin can be slashed, so that reading can activate the impermanent absences with the fragile presences, can reconcile the poles of material and construction — within the social.
Music's inner coherence — the interrelationship of parts to each other and to the whole — is endangered by overwhelming extra-musical associations or commonplaces. In writing, though, everything embued with signification — and much that is not — is automatically intertextual. But everything need not have a demonstrable 'social tone' or sense. If so, we might have to discombobulate inner coherence in order to highlight it — via stringencies of the vertical and the simultaneous (in conjunction with events succeeding each other). For only the Other — the deviate, the alien — may offer the kind of resistance that defeats stasis (and, we might mention, equilibrium) and lets time constitute itself. For this, we should probably look to a social subtext of sound or noise — to uncork the full restiveness of qualitative difference(even when these are caught up in the same quantified exchangeability of thecommodity world that they might seem to resist.)
Certain types of formal arrangement might purify the individual sounds ofmuch of their social flare — sometimes by randomizing, at other times simply by ignoring these social vectors. But then they are likely to lack the kindof resistance (fostered by social tone) that allows them to create their own shape. Teeny firings of sound relation may motivate shapes without engendering any overall shape. The form-creating dynamism (the full experiential time) of such relations may still be stunted by the absence of sufficient friction(which possibly only careful attention to a social dimension could supply).
Individual impulses need substantiality before unifying them can generate much dynamism. Here, in a classicist way, to cling to an opposition between autonomy and semblance — and to prioritize the unabsorbing, windowless monad as the premier vehicle of social 'work' — would be defeatist. It ignores the near language-like qualities of the musics of writing that contradict their seeming autonomy. For this is what gives them an outwardly blinking and scanning and surfing involvement with a body politic or political economy of sense. And helps us experience a synchronic (or concentric) semantic saturation of sound by the social.
Subjective expressionism often conflicted with constructivity, with integral form, and failed to secure itself. But constructivity with an abstract (non-referential) material, like musical pitch or sound, differs from one at grips with language (which is so much of a differential, referential web). With sound, beyond the arbitrary and beyond lexical meaning, what is at issue is the possibility of a social equivalent to motivic thematic work in music. (Motif: as the smallest composing unit (for the subject: tiny personalized possessions, either observational, revelational, or argumentative),and Theme: the larger connections, bringing forward the notion of what is contextually well-motivated.)
To make drastic constellations out of the immediately referential elements of language can counteract their naturally mimetic pull and allow for a greater 'absoluteness' or abstraction. To radically constellate the less mimetic elements (like sound) can pull them in the opposite direction: foregrounding their social charge, perhaps making possible an incipient social mimesis orallegory. Somatic integrity is restored to the musical object by a rejection of its imagistic claims. Social substance might be restored to the sound unit by a rejection of its claims to material self-sufficiency. This suggests that we highlight sounds of a social character — that is, sounds which are only relatively autonomous — socially supplying enough qualitative difference to set up relations and combustibility that point outward, mimetically. And the more socially charged the sonic choreography, the easier it is to avoid a ruthless violence of stance (the treatment of sound as abstract, desocialized entities at our immediate disposal).
The social charge occurs first with single items or words, which in language as opposed to music offer an unavoidable social dimension, with nominalized relevance — to some degree in the sound, although mostly inlexical reference. In terms of their sonic-semantic role, these bare articleswill be more abstract than the gestalts we make for them. (In the same way, making them mere components of an overarching structure can reduce the individual semantic vectors of words as well as small-scale gestalts, making both of them more abstract as well as more fated, less free.)
If personally motivated material is worked into an internal dynamism, with its units appearing to follow deductively from each other, it too is more likely to create an airtight seal around the whole. Here again, language has opportunities for going beyond a showcase of bare particles or single notes through relations: of sound, of referential meaning, and of the gap between the two as a scale embodied in each particle. For these two familiar facets can be composed so that they end up casting a mutually sceptical glance at each other. Freedom here becomes the badge of succession, of the forward motion of an intrinsic otherness. It goes beyond repetition and reflex by drawing on a logic of semantic consequences in sound: to make freedom more than a limited negative determinant, to make it a force of coagulation and affinity. So that something closer to a totalizing perspective could emerge directly out of the impulse of particularity. Unity would be an active work on getting things to synthesize, a motivic-thematic thoroughness at work with atomisms of surface texture and color — as sites of commentary, as situations in which sound could account for its own preconditions. Praxis versus. Auratic illusions of harmony and reconcilement would now face social contra-diction. Easy fiction — and fiction is defined by social stance — disappears within a maximizing of interrelationships between units
with high social friction coefficients.
Praxis disconfirms and de-eternalizes: as, in action, productive precipitating critique. And only a multiplicity of associations and swerves equips a constellation to interpretively mediate a social outside (or many social outsides). Such informal composition therefore involves less communication (the making dissimilar — or fixed — of the similar), and more counter-communication (the making similar — or fluid — of the dissimilar). Pilings on and simultaneity (of social tone) become, for example, one basis of expansive succession. It helps chart the music of degrees of semantic suture or 'buttoning down,' of a topographical terrain of representation.
For the social profile of a sound element is not independently defined or given authority apart from how we operate it. Just as analytic instrumentation can define time by articulating the resolution of tensions, an instrumentation of socially semantic sound helps define something similar: noise as informalist construction with the raw materials of social regulation.
Individual sound complexes are social atoms whose (political)significance emerges from interplay, a mix of dislocation and collegiality of incompatibles. Relational work demands this abrasion of mutually qualifying parts. Instead of deconstruction (the wielding of scepticism to embarrass, to refuse the face of belief), we are closer to critical theory's search for crystallized extremes and excesses in opposition: to map a totality embodying internal immanent conflict. The interior is made up of relations: an ensemble choreography of already socially-inflected phrases, syllables, lexical mementos and the like. Since collectively is a priori, even if wearing masks, our work is inside-out.
Antagonistic social experiences would be faced inside, in particular interior events. In relation — these serve as a cryptogram of the external social complexions of meaning. These are social dimensions (of a collective subjectivity) brought out of the individual units by valorizing their expectations of readability (and thus, temporality). These negations — by framing and 'developing variation' — unfold in the reading process, no longer satisfied with the threats to a deciphering and grazing reading time imposed by the fixed schemas and boosterism of conventional performance. By taking advantage of (hypertextual) opportunities of rearrangement (remaneuvering, collision, osmosis, mutual interruption), it transforms its superficially pure' (anti-social) material into eloquent oratory on social conditions, into a pattern of the (collective) subject's own reaction. This is to make progressively more appropriate the subjectively recharged material: by contextualizing it. To heal this polar opposition of material and subject in apraxis of sound: by a constructivist resocializing and 'opening out' of the material, and a constructivist contextualizing of the subject.
Such informalist noise refuses any projective resolution of social contradiction. It performs this failure, eliciting a contrast with social openness. Indexed by internal contradictoriness, it offers a social model of surprise and the unforseen, of unconstrained freedom and self-reflexivity and conceivable coherence. In sound — among other arenas — equipped with an unrepressive intersubjectivity, to bring the tensions to a head.