Iain Cameron's Diary
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2005-12-31 - 9:14 a.m.

The post-Xmas extra pounds have arrived – I suppose I can’t be the only one driven to resolution in this way. James has flown to Moscow for a week or so to see his girlfriend.

I finished the book about Heidi and Marc and started playing around with Bruno Latour at ANT central. I re-read an article by Best about the growth of medical instrument manufacturing in Massachusetts in the last 20 years and thought how the network theory fitted this case. He starts by explaining the growth in relationships between the leading firms and some leading surgeons in some leading medical institutions in the area which happen to be facing cost pressures. The technology is part of products which have a big role to play in these networks meeting various actors’ aspirations and both the technology and the firms grow as the networks grow. The kind of innovation that takes place is also on the new network principles rather the old centralist principles. I wonder if I will be able to adapt some of this to my specialist vehicle stuff in the West Midlands.

I have a new conceptualisation of the Scriabin chord – into two triads – one minor, the other augmented. I have never really cared for augmented triads The inverse of the S-chord can be resolved into an augmented chord and a major triad. Augmented triads progress round the cycle of fifths by sidestepping upwards.

I have also spent a lot of time reading about and listening to Berg’s Piano Sonata Op 1 which is not short on augmented triads. I am intrigued by how he might sustain sonata form at the edge of tonality without collapsing into variation. This has meant brushing up on sonata form – via the complete Mozart SQs which I have in book form and the six or so recordings I have . These include a couple of his ‘Haydn’ 4tets, the last one M wrote and a few very early ones.

I must get the score to the Op 5 Clarinet and Piano piece which everyone says in aphoristic ie in one sense formless – or deriving its meaning from something other than the potential of the material. Usefully, the recording of this piece also has a recording of a clarinet, piano and cello sonata by Beethoven which in its last movement has variations on a popular tune of the day.

The notes to this piece make the link to the Diabelli variations raising the question of whether Beethoven disliked the material in these variations just as much. James gave me a recording of these variations for Christmas – it’s a double CD in which the variations are played once on a piano of the day and once on a modern piano. These variations were written about the time that the term technology was first coined – I think in Massachusetts. ANT theory might apply to Diabelli?

I looked at an example of an early Berg song – prior to Opus 1 – the stuff he wrote before he met Schoenberg – tritons in the bass moving stepwise and fourths and fifths in the right hand expanding and contracting Bb/F to E/B for example.

Apparently its quite respectable to like Adorno’s sweeping statements – about Berg, form and material dissolution – or about late Beethoven and material alienation. With this in mind I have ordered the Dialectics of Enlightenment which Adorno wrote with Horkheimer when the latter lived in Pacific Palisades just after WW2. I felt the time for this was ripe when I read Simon Schama in the Guardian yesterday saying that 2005 marked the final end of the Enlightenment – also it fits with Heidi and Marcuse.

Talking of Heidi, I have found that bit in Aristotle’s Physics Book 2:

‘The arts make their matter, that is, they either bring it into being or render it good to work with – we use all sorts of things as if they were there for us (for we too are ends of a sort.) There are two arts which control the matter and involve knowledge, the art of using, and the art which directs the making.’

This is obviously what Best is on about when he talks about the Massachusetts medical instruments – the networking of these two arts.

‘Hence the art of using is directive in a way but is different in that it involves knowledge of form, whilst the art which is directive in that it is the art of making involves knowledge of the matter. The steersman knows and prescribes what the form of the rudder is and the carpenter knows out of what wood and by what changes it will be made.’

Diabelli prescribed the matter which pissed Beethoven off a lot.

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