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19 February 2013

After Abundance




""In such a situation, it would be more accurate to say that the room is being drowned in Muzak. And, on the other hand, if full responsibility were assumed by everyone — something verging on the hypothetical — no one would dare make a sound. The situation turns into silence, albeit a musical one. In musical improvisation, aiming for such a state of full and collective responsibility might be possible. And if that aim ever gets fulfilled, the music will have ended, with everybody present reverently holding their breath. [...]

"Responsibility only makes its appearance at the moment when one individual starts to imitate the other. This might happen through a body swaying to the rhythm, or the voice which joins in on the chorus. The cliché, now turned into a musical springboard, presents itself as a profusion of possible associations; trying to imitate them all inside an event anchored in time and duration is simply impossible. Repetition therefore becomes something more than a source of clichés; in every repetition there is selection, and in every selection there is difference. This is what makes it possible for music to rise above the level of the cliché. [...]

"That which we call politics will always involve, much like music, some kind of oscillation between responsibility and irresponsibility. If no one assumes personal responsibility for his or her actions, this could hardly be called politics; a better name for it would be administration. Most of what the media reports on as 'politics' is predicated on the systematic shunning of responsibility, and the conjured phantasms (like 'public opinion' or 'the economy') can therefore hardly be considered worthy of the name. [...]

"As we increasingly come to experience music as synonymous with effortless digital skipping from track to track there is also a corresponding growth in the richness of the strenuous exertions that have to be endured before breaking through to the spaces where music might happen.

"In the post-digital, almost any barrier to the boundless flood of music can be turned into a resource for the production of presence: basements lacking room for no more than a certain number of people; time running out and limiting the number of songs in a session or on a tape; loudspeakers incapable of delivering sound levels above a certain decibel or outside of a set spectrum of frequencies; instruments featuring no more than thirty-two keys; cops breaking up the party; backs that break when trying to carry that one extra kilo of vinyl; geographical distances; disk space; grit. All these levees, these barriers that determine how music happens — they feed the post-digital with the traction needed for the production of memorable events."

On the civic, the social, the selection, serial dictatorships, signal and noise, in situ-ations, collectively riding on a bus that's as old -- if not older -- than its passengers, and a lot of other things that we might mistake as the state of the present. That, plus a few things about the peculiar virtues of obsolete technologies and conduits.

Some scattered excerpts from "How Music Takes Place," part one of Rusmus Fleischer's The Post-digital Manifesto, as translated for the latest edition of e-flux. Having originally circulated in Swedish back in 2009, and (apparently) quickly appearing in Finnish and (ehhh) Esperanto versions, but only now being translated into English. The second part made available in .pdf form here.

Fleischer interview here.

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