Friday, April 06, 2007

Some kind of ventilator

I made a couple mistakes when I asked readers of Long Sunday to help me make a list of phenomena that, though not directly observable, make themselves known by the distortions they cause in some mediating element—think of, say, the Invisible Man. One was not requesting some justification for adding an item to the list—the “Explain.” part of the assignment that teachers perfunctorily require and that students neglect with impunity—for suggestions like capitalism, history, and thoughts are fatuous without further elaboration; these answers themselves are in need of some woolen cloak of narrative or image to make their contours visible. Of the responses I received, I was most impressed by wind and Henry James, though I think that the latter probably doesn’t belong under the given category; while I suspect that Henry James may have believed that Henry James was not available to direct observation, I'm not sure he would have considered language—what other medium could be intended here?—an element in which some more primary thing appears, distortedly.

More fundamentally, I failed to adequately frame the phenomena that really interested me, something more like things that are there and available, but more knowable through some modified representation that contains less information than the original. Think of Neil Young, who found that his autistic son was more responsive to his voice when he spoke through a Vocoder—an electronic device that splits your voice into what sounds like multiple parallel channels of robot frequency, a staggered, receding chorus of electric fan vocalizations— or the close-mic’ed horns on the Beatles’ “Got to Get You into My Life” or “Good Morning Good Morning,” where the distortion and compression recast the melodies in chompable pop-forms before they meet the ear, which is delivered a flow of acoustical fact so selective that the mind's eye doesn’t immediately reconstruct the shape of a saxophone and is instead allowed to synaesthetize freely. My question is this: what is the right amount of information to give the brain in order for the aesthetic imagination to do its work best? What filters and reductions—what forms of omission—what shapes of gap in the thing remove it from real-world reference and place it in the nightspace of stereo audition, the starfield of self-illuminating, self-composing image-objects, the fountain world of nameless, friendly shapes, of unspeakable but immediate micro-stories, of ancient architectures drawn in thought?


Anonymous Perezoso said...

"""My question is this: what is the right amount of information to give the brain in order for the aesthetic imagination to do its work best? """"

Stare at pics of bonestacks in parisian catacombs. Or the west facade of the cologne cathedral. Or some dutch ho doing her business on a webcam. Hans Bellmer pics also should be inspected, as should high definition pics of the rings of Saturn. Ponder verb structure: gallic or otherwise, as well as sine waves. Einstein for phunn. Or Thompson machine guns. "No ideas but in thangs" is not so wrong--indeed quite superior to the endless german idealist sludge. And do these thangs while listening to the best of Chopin, or Stan Kenton, or a few choice cuts from Trout Mask Replica. (and also remove the pinche word verification screening, and link to top floor of San Quentin)

4/07/2007 12:36 AM  
Blogger Carl said...

You challenge my interest in a sort of cognitivist formalism with an appeal to the sublime. Things you ought to experience in order to actualize the full range of human imaginative capacities. The idea behind your list seems to be that the things that stir the imagination into the deepest kind of action are not artistic products but facts of nature that present some improbable extreme of what we can experience, and that throw our moral ideas into the aesthetic mix. I don't think that's too different from the Kantian sublime. But whatever. You're right: at some point it's better to just check out the stuff.

4/07/2007 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Perezoso said...

Perhaps. I do sort of fallback on "romanticism" in regards to le Aesthetique, perhaps: for one, I am fairly skeptical towards aesthetic suggestions anyways---for own view of art-works, however bombastic, really more retrofitted Platonic (via some boor such as Russell really) than Kantian: I don't care for literary narratives for one (nor so much for finearts), and believe real musick--oh something like oh Debussy (or best of Chopin), or evne the best of Miles and 'Trane to be authentic art, quite more sublime than the latest scribble from plath du jour. My own sense is that Kant is contra-aesthetics as well, but then Kant has all sorts of other problems. At least with with the greeks (retrofitted, say) one knows how to proceed towards knowledge, and towards politics. Or maybe not. Rilly man, I've just seen too many ahhht disasters: unnamed edvard munchs die in the street, 24/7. I do enjoy some paintings (in ways painting superior to belle-lettres) but one must be like the son of an aristocrat to do it up properly.

4/07/2007 4:21 PM  

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