Iain Cameron's Diary
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2010-04-20 - 8:55 a.m.

I submitted my skills paper first thing yesterday morning. In fact its not due until the end of the week – but it’s long and complicated enough. And if there are queries about it there’s enough time to supplement the paper with extra material.

I enjoyed watching Tony Robinson blowing up houses last night on Ch4.

In the Barricades of Heaven, Jackson Browne sings:

Jimmy found his own sweet sound and won that free guitar
We’d all get in the van and play
Life became the Pardaox, the Bear, the Rouge and Noir
And the stretch of road running to LA

which explains why the bear plays that track so often. He has also taken to Water Falls Down.

Gillespie’s The Mathematics of Novelty arrived looking smaller than I imagined. I decided to work through from the back, having had a crack at chapters 1 and 6. So it was into chapter 5 which is very much about events. Gillespie concludes that art is one instantiation of the void as truth. This statement appears to privelige minimalism greatly given that minimalist works hover between something and nothing. He adds – one is left with a rather brute minimalism to account for what truth can be in artistic practice. I wonder how technically G intended the word minimalism to be understood? There’s a clue later on where G points out that the key artists for B, including Schoenberg, have minimalist tendencies. I would want to interpret this by elevating the Six Little Piano Pieces – a work that is a favourite of La Monte Young, I believe it may be a possible inspiration for his String Trio. G quotes B: art is mobilised to raise the void of Truth up to the point at which dialectical sequential linking is suspended. G explains towards the end of the chapter that the artists that Badiou rates ‘share a tendency to strip away detail to uncover and localize the beauty of the void’.

G goes back to Lacan to help flesh out Badiou’s account of events – someone I have been careful to avoid so far. But I suppose one can only dodge these things for so long. In Lacan the subject is alienated from is own being by the intervention of the signifier. But in B the void is right out there and objective – it is not inside the subject. Then we move onto that trope about Frege, zero and psychology: zero is the marking of the subject as a lacking subject who tries to compensate for its own lack of being through a substitution of one signifier for another. G moves on to the tempting coexistence within B’s later thought of the amorous, the political, the scientific and the aesthetic subject. We get to the familiar radical proposition that the subject defines itself through action. B adds: the void is the primary name for an inhuman and asubjective being that precedes any possible advent of subjectivity.

G usefully recaps the way that the French Revolution becomes an event out of the various elements that make it up as a situation. The event enables a political procedure to emerge. The FR as an event adds something to those elements which initially made it up. G goes on to discuss the situation of France at the moment including immigrants who are excluded from citizenship. How can this situation become an event which would imply political action? Anxiety is part of the answer.

Sublimation (in the Freudian sense) is ‘a means of instantiating the forms of indiscernible being that can be met with recognition from other subjects.’ Art has value because it gives expression to something which eludes speech.

This is where chapter 5 ends – I could wish it went on for another twenty pages – but it doesn’t – chapter 6 is about something else. And so the answer in terms of how to understand the material in ch5 is likely to be buying some original Badiou works. In fact I am beginning to wonder about St Paul.

The bear got round to playing Miles Davis’ Time After Time at last. This has been a controversial in that some critics thought that this was a sell-out and a compromise of his earlier standards of independence. It’s certainly true that the music he played in the 1970s is much harder to ‘get’ than his 1980s material. I find Time After Time genuinely affecting as it recalls the muted romantic Miles of My Funny Valentine.
The bear also pulled up the first movement of Tippett’s Concerto for Double String Orchestra but he doesn’t know enough to play all three movements in the right order. He played Marquee Moon which made me think Television invented post-punk before punk itself – in which case it should have been possible to skip a lot of unpleasantness.

I ordered Programmed by the Innerzone Orchestra – a Carl Craig project – thinking that as a CD it would be easier to plunder. I added Meredith Monk to the library and the bear chose Astronaut Anthem..Apparently the screaming lead of Black Friday is an old Fender Mustang.

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