Iain Cameron's Diary
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2005-08-27 - 4:24 p.m.
The Virgin and Castle in Kenilworth is becoming my pub of choice - I ate there last night. They have really good ‘muzak’ - Thursday night included Riverman, Bless the Weather, Central Reservation, a version of Evil I had never heard before, Jeff Buckley and plenty of other stuff I couldn’t place but which fitted the ambience. Last night it was Curtis Mayfield, Sly Stone, Average White Band, Rose Royce etc. Indulged in a beef-burger and chips while I read an excellent aesthetic review by Kunst - what name for an aesthetician.
Earlier I went to the Regional Development Agency and we discussed by cluster-mapping ideas. Seemed to go OK and more chargeable time hoves into view for the Autumn - quite a big project in fact.
After the V&C I have watched the Pollock film - which had kind of been spoiled for me by Wagner’s book. Wagner looks at O’Keefe (Miss M’s fave), Hesse and Krasner (and by implication Plath) and tries to find the threads. I did like the bits about Long Island.
And I read through the Krauss-gang on radical performance. She points out that it goes back into the Absex era - and is big in High Minimalism - but she doesn’t seem to like to follow through to the 90s. (I find this a bit odd) She quite likes identity-art and indeed Collings moaned at her about this. But maybe she quietly signs up to the Danto-thesis that this stuff goes too far. Anyway SoS5 hovers.
I have been thinking about Andrew K’s Artemis song which is on the excellent CD of New French Songs by Alison Smart and Katharine Durran. I have deliberately avoided translating the French - or looking at a translation. I have just been listening to the French sounds to the music - knowing the poem is by de Nerval - a deep romantic.
Artemis comes from the ancient Anatolian mother god but is brother to Apollo - she becomes Diana - whose temple was a major feature of Roman Ephesus. She is linked to hunting and the creatures that are hunted and she definitely stands for female autonomy. This slides over into cruelty, for example when she turns a hunter into the stag he is hunting and he is killed and eaten by his own hounds. Her temple in Myra has also become the home of Father Christmas. I have been thinking around these bits of imagery in the context of the relatedness that Andrew says is in the use of Eros in the title of his new CD. Artemis hardly counts as the most perfect example of relatedness - more she seems to represent the classic female absence that lies at the heart of muse theory.
In current aesthetics, muse theory is often criticized because it is premised on a false relation in gender terms - a one sided gaze and yearning which constructs the object of desire without taking her point of view into account at all.
The music - the piano part - for the song is full and reminds me of Debussy - nothing wrong in that at all - and indeed many of the songs on the CD steer clear of that area - I imagine deliberately. But listeners will want some references back to that high point of French song and it is certainly a piece of ‘relatedness’on the part of the composer to engage with that expectation.
And Debussy and hunting took me to Pelleas and Melisande - set in a forest with a chance meeting - and a story of doomed love, distance and alienation. Melisande herself is elusive and contradictory and easily links to attributes of Artemis. Related - she isn’t.
The original poem is a lament for a now dead lover - and as such is subject to the classic complaint that it is the objectifying male gaze and articulation of the female as the unattainable object uncontaminated by real engagement. Andrew’s music is cooler and falling lines shape the vocal in the latter part of the song - the poet’s original compulsion to seek Artemis is more in the piano than in the vocal . And the question of the true character of Artemis - her independence and reluctance to take any notice of the plans of those around her - is in the vocal.
The Debussy who might be found in the piano writing is much more the late Debussy of the last sonatas and Etudes than the composer of the first book of the Preludes and the music of the last decade of the 19th century - a composer who is neither symbolist nor impressionist.