musicology #439


Fragments #5

(Junior Byles – Fade Away)

“There is nothing left to protect us from the scene of the real. Nothing left to protect us from the obscenity of the virtual, (of information, transparency etc). We are no longer the actors of the real but the double agents of the virtual”

Baudrillard, (among others), spoke of the ‘Hyper – Real’. Which, as I have understood/interpreted it, is the place where reality, (of human contact, emotion, character and such things that used to define being human), is replaced by the virtual, (particularly visual media). Almost everything in the virtual is created, faked or at least edited to present and maintain the illusion of progress..politics and the news are clear examples…both offer but deliver nothing real.

Society is rotten at the core, (maybe it has always been?), and to cover that truth/reality the hyper – real was created to take our ‘eye off the game’. Look at the growth in so called social networking, (or to put it another way the network economy), which is clearly the brave new world of the hyper real…

almost everyone I know, (rebels..hold firm), is on facebook..my children included.  It seems to be the place where people choose to ‘communicate’ to their ‘friends’ and more importantly colleagues on the banality that fills the post modern desert that has been created for and forced on us. Do a search and see for yourself  what the champions of the hyper-real are trading in. My guess is that it’s value-less mediocrity or in the case of politricks….tomorrow. the day that never comes.

Anyway…enough of the social comentary and on with the musicology…Today’s cut is from the enigmatic Junior Byles..well known slice of the Channel 1 pie that has trembled my marrow for at least 25 years…Seems like the right time has come to throw it down.

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6 thoughts on “musicology #439

  1. From a fellow rebel – but for different reasons…

    That’s heavy stuff there my friend, heavy stuff indeed… stuff the kids (all kids ) should be taking on board before its to late… If its not to late already.

    top ranking piece of music though!

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  2. I couldnt agree with you more on all the points
    you flag up on this post..I suspect ‘society’ has always been rotten to the core, the line from the old music hall song ‘its the rich what gets the pleasure and the poor what pays the price’..springs to mind. Them that seek the world of facebook are more than welcome to it! fantastic piece of music..

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    1. countess..not sure how much ‘pleasure’ is to be had by being, (financially), rich..everybody pays a price rich or poor, black, white or green, young or old..often the true cost is hidden..but it always has to be paid and almost always after the event..
      Regarding facebook…I don’t see anything wrong with social networking. As I said lots, (most in fact), of the people I know, (and some that I love), have a profile in the virtual an good luck to them..in fact the time is coming where the virtual profile will be more ‘important’ than the real one but for me a price paid will be inauthenticity.

      tony blue..I wouldn’t categorise myself as a rebel..(can’t afford to pay the price), more like a minstrel…trying to communicate with and to the/my people them..in my experience cats like Baudrillard tend to be read and discussed in very small social circles and I would like to spread such profound insights as far and wide as posssible..music is the conquerer as well as the great connector.

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  3. A person who questions “face-value” issues is a rebel in my eyes (paying don’t come into it) and I certainly wasn’t categorising… I was never clever enough! As to the price of ‘pleasure rich / pleasure poor, pleasure black / pleasure white, pleasure young / pleasure old’…. I’ll take ‘pleasure young’ thank you and damn the consequences!! And all I’ll add to the ‘Facebook’ debate is a very old, oft repeated proverb i.e. “what goes around, comes around”!!!

    Seriously though, what a bleak future Baudrillard espouses….. Is this “Nothing left… We are no longer the actors of the real but the double agents of the virtual” thesis of his what’s in store for our children and children’s children? I for one sincerely hope not. Never underestimate the resourcefulness of mankind.

    And so….. critiques.

    Baudrillard’s writing, and his uncompromising positions, has led to his being criticised fiercely by many. For example Denis Dutton, founder of Philosophy & Literature’s “Bad Writing Contest” had the following to say:

    “Some writers in their manner and stance intentionally provoke challenge and criticism from their readers. Others just invite you to think. Baudrillard’s hyperprose demands only that you grunt wide-eyed or bewildered assent. He yearns to have intellectual influence, but must fend off any serious analysis of his own writing, remaining free to leap from one bombastic assertion to the next, no matter how brazen. Your place is simply to buy his books, adopt his jargon, and drop his name wherever possible.”

    However only one of the two major confrontational books on Baudrillard’s thought – Christopher Norris’s Uncritical Theory: Postmodernism, Intellectuals and the Gulf War – seeks to reject his media theory and position on “the real” out of hand. The other – Douglas Kellner’s Jean Baudrillard: From Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond – seeks rather to analyse Baudrillard’s relation to postmodernism (a concept with which Baudrillard has had a continued, if uneasy and rarely explicit, relationship) and to present a Marxist counter. Regarding the former, William Merrin has published more than one denunciation of Norris’s position. The latter Baudrillard himself characterised as reductive (in Nicholas Zurbrugg’s Jean Baudrillard: Art and Artefact).

    Willam Merrin’s work has presented a more sympathetic account (e.g. Merrin’s Baudrillard and the Media), which attempts to “place Baudrillard in opposition to himself.” Thereby Merrin has argued that Baudrillard’s position on semiotic analysis of meaning denies himself his own position on symbolic exchange. Merrin thus alludes to the common criticism of post-structuralist work (a criticism not dissimilar in either Baudrillard, Foucault or Deleuze) that emphasising interrelation as the basis for subjectivity denies the human agency from which social structures necessarily arise.

    Finally, Mark Poster, Baudrillard’s editor and one of a number of present day academics who argue for his contemporary relevance, has remarked:

    “Baudrillard’s writing up to the mid-1980s is open to several criticisms. He fails to define key terms, such as the code; his writing style is hyperbolic and declarative, often lacking sustained, systematic analysis when it is appropriate; he totalizes his insights, refusing to qualify or delimit his claims. He writes about particular experiences, television images, as if nothing else in society mattered, extrapolating a bleak view of the world from that limited base.”

    Nonetheless Poster is keen to refute the most extreme of Baudrillard’s critics, the likes of the physicist Alan Sokal and Christopher Norris who see him as a purveyor of a form of reality-denying irrationalism:

    “Baudrillard is not disputing the trivial issue that reason remains operative in some actions, that if I want to arrive at the next block, for example, I can assume a Newtonian universe (common sense), plan a course of action (to walk straight for X meters, carry out the action, and finally fulfil my goal by arriving at the point in question). What is in doubt is that this sort of thinking enables a historically informed grasp of the present in general. According to Baudrillard, it does not. The concurrent spread of the hyperreal through the media and the collapse of liberal and Marxist politics as the master narratives, deprives the rational subject of its privileged access to truth. In an important sense individuals are no longer citizens, eager to maximise their civil rights, nor proletarians, anticipating the onset of communism. They are rather consumers, and hence the prey of objects as defined by the code.”

    Jean Baudrillard (27.09.1929 – 6.03.2007)

    “Hyper”… Origin 1940s: abbreviation of hyperactive : prefix
    over; beyond; above : exceeding : hypersonic : excessively : above normal : overactive, energetic; busy, fidgety; excited, frantic, frenetic, frenzied, adrenalized, feverish; keyed-up, fired-up, amped-up, psyched, high-energy, caffeinated, pumped, pumped up, turbocharged.

    acknowledgement Wikipedia.

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    1. hmm..lot to digest there. First thing I will say is that I have been and am inspired by Baudrillard as well as Foucault..
      Also speaking for myself I adhere to the belief, (based on my own thoughts), that ‘reason’ is seriously flawed
      Society is dictated to us by the ideology of ‘reason’ of that I am in no doubt. What has changed is that ‘choice’, (other than consumer choice), is disappearing faster than the speed of light, (don’t get me started on that theory).
      Seems to me, (on first glance), that Mr Norris is a disciple of reason so clearly he would refute Baudrillard.

      Simply put..how much time is spent/lived in the hyper-real , (online), compared to 20 years ago?
      How much of the ‘real’ is fed to us through the media? (the Gulf War being the example Baudrillard used).
      How popular is social networking and online gaming and is it growing in popularity or declining?
      Simple questions with simple answers.

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  4. True, true, simple questions with simple answers. But questions/answers of a symptomatic nature. Surely my original question – is Baudrillard’s cold “Nothing Left” thesis mankind’s bleak future – deserves more than a passing nod to cause? As for “reason” and “choice”. Yeah, like you… don’t get me started.

    Even so, sticking to Baudrillard.

    First let me just say I’d never heard of Baudrillard till you posted his name. If you hadn’t introduced me to the man, his message, and his companions(?) I wouldn’t be interested in his bleak prognosis for humanity. I would have been quite content living out an existentialist life. Happy with my existential heroes, in particular Albert Camus. But no, it wasn’t to be.

    Instead, since first meeting the man (themusicologist #435), I’ve immersed myself – drowned if truth be known – in a self-help course on the theories of Baudrillard and his ilk (I use the word “ilk” instead of the more correct “companions” to signal distaste; not because I find him/them distasteful, just to indicate how easy – and misleading – it is to send “wrong” speech signals…. another lesson learnt at the feet of these semioticians).

    And what a crazy, mazy course! Postmodernism, Structuralism, Deconstructionalism, Semoitics, and finally, Anthropology, yes anthropology. From Nietzsche, Saussure, and Husserl to Foucault, Derrida and Lacan, along the way taking in too many credited/discredited fellow academic believers and critics to mention here, I’ve sweated blood trying to get my head around the various positions/theories postulated.

    Mentally exhausted, I gave up at Levi-Strauss and anthropology… back at the beginning of the beginning!

    Viva Sisyphus!!

    P.S. an aside…. People who use highbrow terms like “a Newtonian universe” when “common sense” will do the job just as well get right up my nose.. it smacks/stinks to high heaven of elitism. I sometimes wonder whether the egg-heads really want to share their secrets with us, the great unwashed!!!

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