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Some Thoughts on Freedom and Music.

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"By itself, free playing does not directly require practice and study, which when self-constructed provides the seedbed for exploration and change. Practice is associated with what most of us remember from study: repetition aimed at perfection, essential for a music where one will be punished for mistakes. For many, free playing is a release from that disciplinary system. The career orientation encourages practice to keep one's chops and bag of tricks competitive. As free improv has increasingly attracted only non-career players, private work on the instrument is not on the agenda. Lacking the incentive of potential recognition, why should they spend hours on it, when whatever they do will be accepted? Moreover, the increased time required for income work affects everyone. Few have the option to spend time studying and practicing that earlier generations had. To create in the moment easily becomes what people do when they have inly the moment of performing available."p199 Jack Wright, The Free Musics.

That's me. Jack's book has had the effect of opening up real thoughts as to why I do what I do musically. Why I have driven down this lonely isolated road, even receded into the background and shunned performance...more out of fear and anxiety than anything else. And markets don't respect either of those two. SoundCloud, or the net, offers a last bastion of space to hurl my shit into the world, without attaching my physical living self to it, almost anonymously.

Wright, like Bailey, has made me think about my solo playing. The technique, the tightness, the development of a style that is maintained because that is what I can do. The anxiety of not wanting to make a "mistake" so you do what you know best, where your fingers are used to travelling. Almost the opposite of the attitude one needs to free play. Another one of those annoying contradictions. The extreme of "anything goes" is kind of forgotten in favour of the familiar. But there is a freeness in that as well. Something I think I got from Bailey: to not worry about sounding the same from one play to the next...a blessed relief! To be rid of the tyranny of novelty, which seems to me to be part and parcel of conventional notions of good art and market exchange. If you don't sound new, you must be shit and not worth a cent. When one plays the familiar however, technique and craft come into focus and judgement, sometimes harsh, flows into the room. This constant dialectic of conventional orientations, notions, desires and being free of them is always at play. Is it as de Kooning said, "To desire to make a style is an apology for one’s anxiety."

Playing with others doesn't necessarily change the way one plays or will play, but it does offer a different comfort that softens the harsh self-critic and makes for more surprises when listening back not to mention feeling less alone.

But underlying all this is the feeling that often comes, that I am only doing this because I can't really play the conventional well enough, from the folk song to the most complicated and perform it. I can't find a place to inhabit and societal economic arrangements remove more and more time to search for it and one is only getting older and more tired and eventually even this becomes a lousy excuse sometimes. "No James, you are lazy." Markets have an uncanny knack of causing self-hatred, a kind of useful attribute that places blame for lack of success, comfortable survival and poverty, squarely at the individual rather than institutional structure. And this is the spot where anarchists and Marxists are right and come together. They diverge in the search for solutions.

And perhaps in some way this is where free playing intersects with revolutionary politics. Or maybe this is just me grasping at something to make me fell better or important or something. It seems that if you don't do that it's always just work and more work and doing stuff 'round the house. Anxiety again!

"How can anyone live in the real world without wanting respect, and who reaches the point of having enough? It is virtually impossible to be a human , functioning even grudgingly, and not be at least tempted towards respect and achievement. A vision that goes deep enough to divorce one from the all-too-human is something no one can do consistently."p200

"A monkey wrench has to be thrown in to make free playing worth doing over a continuous period. That begins with "This is boring." The slightest intimation that something vital is missing prompts the search for ever more partners, tools, materials. It's still free playing, but has escaped the stagnation that infects the music of our culture." P200

Vitality and novelty are not the same thing!

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion 38 Comments

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 1st Apr 2017

    i think making art for profit compromises us in similar ways profit compromises/corrupts everything…but maybe it’s just more soul wrenching for artists…or as a friend once said, its like prostituting yourself…
    in a decent system, artists would compete for the best of reasons…not according to the market or “experts” deciding what is marketable, regardless of peoples’ abilities, personal likes and dislikes…

    how do you think ben watson’s totality and cleavage fit it with improv/free playing?
    seems to me he’s saying (artistically and politically) you can’t have cleavage until you have totality…
    so is that what’s taking place when art movements/genres change?
    bored artists trying new things by cleaving the old and then capitalists capitalize on that change and market it to the masses?

    can we get bored with capitalism and cleave it?
    or will it’s ability to co-op original ideas, adapt and innovate, prevent alternatives that aren’t so seductive?

    • Bat Chainpuller 2nd Apr 2017

      Ben's a free improviser himself. A member of the Association of Musical Marxists All Stars. Also does a lot of it on his radio show. When the AMM All Stars went on stage at a pub to freely improvise, or freely associate musically, F.A.M, after an Anarchist Book fair, they got yelled down and told to fuck off back to Hampstead by a bunch of anarchists...you know, take your shite art music back to wherever you came from...not that any of them actually came from Hampstead. There are no boundaries really hut there are cultivated ones, manufactured ones that determine what can and can't be done. There's something funny about a bunch of anarchists telling a bunch of Marxists to fuck off when they are musically doing what anarchists desire...freely associating!

      I find Ben's book hard to penetrate...when I think I have a grip, I second guess. I have this quote from the book (I think), not sure what page. May help. I sometimes think I get it then other times I find it perplexing...kind of like free improvising.

      "The art student is the artist manqué - the not-yet artist who is having too good a time. Remember this is a world where, for some reason, self-indulgence is a crime."

      "The [free improvising musician] is the musician manqué - the [not-yet-musician] who is having too good a time. Remember this is a world where, for some reason, self-indulgence is a crime." [perhaps this is why the anarchists told the Matxists to fuck off back to Hampstead,..they were having too goid a time!?]

      "Karl Marx notes that human activity constitutes social reality through praxis; and truth is gained through process, the process of self-development; or, as Marx more famously put it, the rounded individual of mature communism is a hunter in the morning, a fisherman in the afternoon, and a critical critic at night - without being defined socially as either a hunter, a fisherman or a critic. It is an unfreedom characteristic of class society that some people are charged with the task of being an artist, and bear that social role, while others are excluded from it. Conversely, marred by commodification, artistic practice today is a deformation of the sensuous unfolding of the self that indicates real human community. The reification of human activity into the separate realms of work and play, of aesthetics and politics must be overcome. The aesthetic must be rescued from the ghetto of art and set at the centre of life. That is a critical politics of art, politics in art and through art. All culture might be assessed according to how it imagines all lives to be liveable. Alienation sets in specifically and crucially in relation to contemporary culture. Contemporary audiences - that is mass-mediated contemporary observers - are recipients of the contradictions of contemporary culture, which continues, despite postmodernism's protestations, to be a divided culture sustained by social division, or the class system, as such. People learn to love their separation, their specific identities that compete with other identities. [anarchists versus Marxists] Art production needs to be faced as a one part of a totality - held up as separate, because its separateness is part of that totality which needs art to seem autonomous. A creditable stance insists on reinvoking a full-blown totality with all its moments of negation intact, and on terms that refuse to provide ameliorating solutions through theory, but rather expose the contradictions and woundings, the 'primary alienation', the split in species being occasioned by the division of labour, which accompanies the unequal division of cultural access and benefit. It takes culture seriously, holding on to culture as culture, that is as something in certain ways autonomous, and yet, also, seeing cultural as slashed by, negatively formed by or located in relation to social division, social determination. The insistence on negation - ironically mediated, uncompromising, the refusal to theorise away the contradictions and the pain - refuses turning difference into a badge of pride, and holds onto division as a split in the social totality."

    • Bat Chainpuller 2nd Apr 2017

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 3rd Apr 2017

    Damn that's really good...haven't gotten to any of that in the book yet...he is not easy read, lots of references I'm clueless about...so, incentive to keep at it, thanx!

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 3rd Apr 2017

    Ben Watson's last paragraph very in the radical Adorno-situationist trad, not much known, and nice to hear again: "The reification of human activity into the separate realms of work and play, of aesthetics and politics must be overcome. The aesthetic must be rescued from the ghetto of art and set at the centre of life. That is a critical politics of art, politics in art and through art."

    Also, re education of children, ye olde anarchist (Sir) Herbert Read good on (all) Education Through Art (also book title, once slightly influential.

    • Bat Chainpuller 4th Apr 2017

      Ben is BIG on Adorno. That's why his book on Frank Zappa was called Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play...lots of Adorno quotes that bamboozled me.

    • Bat Chainpuller 4th Apr 2017

      ...and flew over the top of Frank's head when he read some of the book to him!

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 4th Apr 2017

      If Adorno's too obscure, his buddy Herbert Marcuse says similar things in a more accessible way. As Nicholson describes ths common ground between Adorno and Marcuse in the essay mentioned above:

      "[The common ground] includes the basic premises of Frankfurt School critical social theory and ranges from the critique of instrumental reason in the name of another reason more compatible with the sensuous and the non-identical, to the explication of the aesthetic dimension as a locus of utopian potential, as a promesse de bonheur, or promise of happiness, in Stendhal's phrase.

      For both men subjective experience is the locus of an experiential dialectics of oppression and liberation. It is the experiential arena of one-dimensionalization and administralization - Marcuse's concept of one-dimensional society and Adorno's concept of the totally administered society are congruent - but also the arena of reflection, critical awareness, and thought in its objectivity. It is the locus of aesthetic experience and the locus of the experience and definition of needs and possibilities of political praxis."

      Marcuse has lotsa stuff on the subversive-utopian potential of art works in his 'Eros and Civilization' (50s), his 'Essay on Liberation' (60s) and his 'Counter-revolution and Revolt' (70s).

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 4th Apr 2017

      Yeah, Adorno's super difficult, and also doesn't translate well. But his Aesthetic Theory I found fantastic, and really enjoyed his more accessible Sociology of Music too (even tho I can't really follow most classical music and Adorno didn't get Afro-American music and reduced jazz to white big band mechanics...).

      Here's Adornite Shierry Weber Nicholsen on Adorno, the work of art, negation, utopia, aesthetic experience as mimesis, non-domination, meaningfulness, and thus its subversive potential:

      "The experience of negation and utopian possibility, of potential erotic reconciliation, that is sedimented in the work of art, and in analogous ways in Adorno's work as well, enables the reader (or viewer, or listener) to have the same kind of subjective experience.

      Such experience, which is what authentic aesthetic experience and, in its own way, authentic philosophical experience would be, requires a mimetic activity on the part of the reader. The reader must imitate in his own experience the process and structure that are sedimented in the work's form, in much the same way that the work itself imitates not the surface but the essence of reality and possibility.

      The way in which Adorno describes this mimetic activity evokes a relationship, one of cooperation rather than domination. Aesthetic understanding, he says, needs to be thought of as

      'a kind of following along afterward [nachfahren], as the coexecution [Mitvollzug] of the tensions sedimented in the work of art, the processes that have congealed and become objectified in it. One does not understand a work of art when one translates it into concepts ...but rather when one is immersed in its immanent movement.'

      This is the kind of interaction to which the aesthetic work, and Adorno's own work, invites the reader. It is both ascetic and sensuous, for it is through an asceticism that recognizes the sensuous dimension and the longing for it, and an asceticism toward meaning for the sake of a meaningfulness that may someday be realized, that Adorno embodies, negatively, the possibility of erotic relations with the other. He embodies it in both the content and the formal aspects of his writings..."

      ('The Persistence of Passionate Subjectivity: Eros and Other in Marcuse, by Way of Adorno', in: J. Bokina & TJ Lukes (eds.), Marcuse. From the New Left to the Next Left (1994)

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 4th Apr 2017

    well, that’s reassuring…first time around, most of this stuff goes right over my head too!
    hell, most times i gotta go in for multiple reads before i might actually connect some dots…
    reading watson and spinoza at the same time is particularly wild!
    never quite sure if I'm getting at some universal truths or it’s just a complete exercise in futility…
    i mean, how far down the rabbit hole do you go?!

    • Bat Chainpuller 4th Apr 2017

      All the way, and if you find some chocolates....

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 4th Apr 2017

    Aaahahaha...!
    Pretty sure I'll need to visit that caterpiller too!

    • Bat Chainpuller 5th Apr 2017

      Right Kristi, have finished Jack's book and am now determined to get through Art, Class and Cleavage again...we'll see how distracted I get. So we can try to help each other out and when the shit hits the fan re Adorno, look to Peter for help perhaps.

  • Bat Chainpuller 5th Apr 2017

    "As for finding partners, it is abnormal for people calling themselves musicians to commit to music that promises so little materially. Those who do so are probably odd in some way, have failed the test of full socialization. The idea of fulfilling a vocation is standard and has been ever since the bourgeois subject was formed. The vocation, or calling, is a way of thinking about a lifetime of work that is not oppressive, like that of the worker. For those who can discern a vocation, mostly from the middle class, the American Dream means to rise above alienating labor. One such idealized vocation is the artist. The contract to provide musical satisfaction is slipped in so quietly people don't notice they are merely glorified workers providing a product. Free playing is that unalienated work, in a society proud to say we are all free here. No fuss need be made over this, no promise of emancipation. It is simply the choice of those who for whatever reason don't need to disguise work as vocation, whose day gig is not regretted but is merely what they give to Caesar." p221



    "Estranged labor not only (1) estranges nature from man and (2) estranges man from himself, from his own function, from his vital activity; because of this, it also estranges man from his species. It turns his species-life into a means for his individual life. Firstly, it estranges species-life and individual life, and, secondly, it turns the latter, in its abstract form, into the purpose of the former, also in its abstract and estranged form. For in the first place labor, life activity, productive life itself, appears to man only as a means for the satisfaction of a need, the need to preserve physical existence. But productive life is species-life. It is life-producing life. The whole character of a species, its species-character, resides in the nature of its life activity, and free conscious activity constitutes the species-character of man. Life appears only as a means of life." Karl

    • Bat Chainpuller 5th Apr 2017

      The first quote above is from Jack Wright's The Free Musics.

  • Bat Chainpuller 5th Apr 2017

    "Education betrays its aims if it omits to say that a society that offers a life-choice between manual and mental labour is criminally insane."

    "Professional feeders dine on predigested pap. Sentences that chew give more juice than the slippery swallows of summary ease." [see most free improvisation and not most of the music on Michael Albert's playlist!]

    "Your 'amateur' tastebuds are the glory of human sensation! All art is quite useless, Art, Class & Cleavage is art designed to ask: Who's using you?"


    OTL

  • Bat Chainpuller 6th Apr 2017

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 7th Apr 2017

    my writing is just all over the place this morning…write, delete, write, delete…can’t seem to hold a coherent thot from one sentence to the next…keep vacillating between thinking i’ve got something to contribute to thinking i’m fucking clueless…

    anyway, while listening and writing, to dead catfish blues, (good stuff btw) i’ve concluded that the planet will continue to spin whether i read and fret about all the horrible imperialistic stuff filling my inbox…and instead, try and focus on philosophy/social theory…for now anyway…

    i’m gonna try and keep up with you bat (and peter, and all)…lot’s of distractions to contend with, leaving on a 2 day drive north today, so try not to go too fast!!!

    • Bat Chainpuller 7th Apr 2017

      I can tell ya right now I'm going slow! No choice.

  • Dave Jones 9th Apr 2017

    So in a Participatory Society we would design our own "balanced job complexes" to achieve a mix of "empowering" and drudge labor. How would free playing, or any art, for that matter, find its way into the mix? Would you prefer it not to be part of your "complex"? Or should it just be play- pure leisure?

    • Bat Chainpuller 9th Apr 2017

      Well, if people who make shit like art feel they should get access to the social pie for what they do then yeah, it has to be part of a BJC. If they don't give a shit or don't feel it should be then they have to find other work to get access to the social pie, food and shit, needs, wants, like everyone else and they can do their art in their own time and in a participatory society with a participatory economy they would have far more friggin' time and probably far less stress in which to do it. But there could be all sorts of places like musician collectives that deal in the production of all kinds of musical outputs in which musos would be the workers, with their own workers councils assessing whether there are bullshit artists involved just using it as a cover for doing shite...would make for interesting meetings...musos know who are for real and who aren't like anything else, who's shirking...shit, people know who shirk work because people naturally notice stuff like that so I reckon the same applies to musos and free playing has an audience it's just miniscule but there are people who want it and performances would have to be done or CDs made to order and they would have to be seen to be consumed over time... otherwise I suppose like anything else that doesn't warrant the resources you would have to go...but somehow I don't think that would happen at a muso collective or music production place and the place would not have to be in a specific spot but it could be with all kinds of facilities made available for the workers to get shit done, even whole performance areas...and with a supportive and compatible education system I think free musics would get a better airing and more people may involve themselves in that kind of 'work' because society is no longer so oppressive and the barriers of entry into such a life would be non existent, like they are now...the biggest being the MARKET. the more you think about this the less of a problem I think it would be it's just that people have this bizarre notion that art is somehow different to making something like a house or a scientist sitting around all day thinking about numbers and hoping to stumble across something important or worthwhile. I would have no problem working for my remuneration with a BJC that doesn't include my playing and then free playing outside that. I do that now and in a participatory society I would have far more time than I have now and far less stress thinking it is a waste of time because it isn't helping pay the rent. Art, even supposed REAL ART out in the market place is actually no different to business...getting deals with gallery owners and all that shit...same with music...most are trying to do it professionally and it becomes business...that's why they all get shitty about people 'sharing' online which they prefer to call theft...seer property rights, and like all the wealthy artists out there, so so many musicians, they have made most of theirs off the back of all those who went before them...copying and borrowing but because they put a c with a circle around it on it they believe it's all theirs...fucking liers the lot of them..and the visual arts world aint much different when it comes to money and trying to land a gallery r sell privately from their studio...they can't make shit until they win a comp or some critic reckons their hot shit...then they can sell high...until the art buying public, which is very different from the art loving one, gets all bored with it all...then you can't give the shit away... so what I'm trying to say is that it's gotta be better than now, but what so many on the left have a problem with is tying the creation of artworks to one's access to the social pie...making it like work and many, anarchists who don't like the idea of ' money' or tying consumption to work, out of principle don't kind of like that.
      well, you try and see what happens when every man and his dog can't be bothered working because they want to do art or music. and let's face it, anyone can play free improvised music...so there's your in...how you gonna eat and dress yourself and live...just take shit for free...from each to each...no money...how does that even work...and even in a good freer participatory society does one really think no one would notice people not pulling their wait...even if someone's music didn't sell and everyone thought it was shit 'cept for a few insane idiots, as long as they were pulling their wait in the rest of their BJC or whatever, people would probably be cool with it...but lastly, tying it in with work, as part of a BJC won't change the nature of what people do...I mean let's face it most people don't know what's good or bad anyway unless they have read it in a book...I mean is Mozart overated? Mahler? And why do I immediately think of composers from the 'classical' or orchestral world of music straight up? What of Albert Ayler? Derek Bailey? no one knows...plus if we all want a better world we all HAVE to make some sacrifices no? And more people are going to be doing art in a participatory society because they can...so we better get used to it...and it will be more diverse...but if you want to hang around all day doing it and still reckon you deserve to take shit from the social pie, well, I'd think twice if I was you.

    • Bat Chainpuller 9th Apr 2017

      Apart from all the other appalling mistakes above I feel I should at least correct "pulling their WEIGHT", not wait. Butt weight, theirs moor...

  • Bat Chainpuller 9th Apr 2017

    You Know one could almost make the argument the most artists already in this world work inside of BJCs. They have to spread their work in to all sorts of areas often just to make a living, which usually isn't great because the market is small for what they do or can't afford much...unless you arer lucky to nail a wealthy patron or some place where wealthy people consume art. Derek Bailey performed regularly but he also put on concerts, wrote books, did a TV series, ran a record label called Incus in order to make ends meet.Some of that shit was also drudgery and the playing an other shit, maybe empowering...maybe the current day artist is a model for BJCs? It's just in a participatory society, lawyers and doctors and shit will be doing the same sort of stuff as the artist is now and getting remunerated the same...poor saps!

  • Bat Chainpuller 9th Apr 2017

  • Bat Chainpuller 9th Apr 2017

    Plus, there are all sorts of resources and stuff that are needed for people to play music, to make art...someone's got to make them...pure leisure?? Is that even possible? One could see the arts being connected to the industries needed to produce the stuff needed to produce the stuff artists need to produce...nothing's privately owned, no one's out to make a profit...all sorts of spaces for poetry, music, theatre, visual arts, all part of a huge industry working together, as consumers and producers themselves to offer up the stuff that everyone wants. Within that complex there would be ample room for constructing balance job complexes....and the free improvisers can have their own small shed on the periphary of the art complex/industry out of the way of the truly talented and real artists...that way no one wirking in the industry need get embarrassed trying to explain its existence. "You call that music? Hahahahahaha!"

    Pure leisure makes me think of a scenario where a guaranteed basic income of one million is given to everyone because the government/s just print enough money to do so...there's pure leisure...no real heed to work now for anyone...what would happen? Can't go on a holiday because no one needs to fly planes or do the stuff you need them to do in order for you to go on a holiday because everyone's off on an indefinite break from work! So the idea of pure leisure is just weird. But it also illustrates the idea of a guaranteed basic income exposes the current system, market capitalism as an absurd way to organise society economically and that a basic income is really designed to maintain it for the benefit of those who have already benefitted from it.

    I mean a UBI is really just a yearly inheritance, or gift, not an income, and the notion of it being tied to dignity is so patronising it's not funny...and then Bill Gates and liberal economists get hold of it and make it so so complex no one can make a judgement so have no recourse but to defer to the experts, who are only trying to maintain a system that has brought them so much privilege...a basic income just proves how fucked up we truly are, how absurd the current system is, how unimaginayive we are when it comes to thinking about a better way to organise economies to benefit all, and that pure leisure isn't possible, only times of rest and repose and a life free of unnecessary stresses and anxieties that stem from shitty ways of organising stuff, unequal access to social pies and social pies that are stressing and killing the very planet we are living on.

  • Bat Chainpuller 9th Apr 2017

    This is why reading newspapers, watching or listening to news and engaging with others in present day political conversations about present politicians, parties and policies is pointless pontificating. It's a waste of time but one can sound smart..."yes, that's right, I read all the papers and listen to all sides of the debate..." Blah, blah, blah.

    Like Ha Joon Chang (however you spell it) writing 23 myths about capitalism but he still thinks it the best of all the worst and disagrees with the labour theory of value which he feels undermines Marx. Well yeah, big fuck Ha Joon, you just like your privilege and nice salary, like Stiglitz and all the rest. Michael Albert don't like the labour theory of value neither and he's an anarchist (oh wow, I can hear the yells and screams and kicking and screaming from here, from all those principled and real anarchists out there screaming, "anarchist, fuck off, he's a half-arsed social democrat at best...I'm an anarchist!") It's just that liberal economists like Ha Joon just sound smart and a little bit more humane than right wingers and people who read the books and regurgitate the info think they're just as smart but the whole argument is so inside going round and round and round and nowhere and serves our overlords as much as the extreme right wing nutcase pundits...this is also the problem with the NSP. It all sounds so clever, with all these smart educated people working around the intricacies of the current economic arrangements as if there really is some reasonable element in there somewhere, in market allocation, some social redeeming quality...so we just have to kind of rearrange the furniture. But of course you need qualified people to rearrange it for you, Gar Alperovitz, people from the Capital Institute, The Roosevelt Institute, the Democracy Collaborative, Yes magazine, Evonomics...all these smart, well dressed, smiley faced well meaning people writing working paper after working paper like a bunch of PR dudes working for a right wing think tank...no wonder the world's no closer to real change because these people don't really want it...none if them like nor ever want to hear or see the word cunt, shit, fuck, prick, dick or motherfucker...or Revolution...nup...don't want to hear about balanced job complexes or classlessness or how self-managemnet can really work and what's required for it to work or even contemplate the notion of complete equality, oh no...3-1 or even 10-1 is ok...

    And when it comes to the arts, or music, most of these people are as boring as all get out...art for the revolutionary, particularly music, is just some background fucking soundtrack
    to their more important everyday "revolutionary" activities...Bruce fucking Springsteen, Dylan, songs written by dead Beatles and songwriters who got blow jobs in some hotel...I mean fuck off...yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck...i get all that shit when I walk into retail shops...it's the yellow wallpaper of our world not revolutionary stuff...Tom Morello?...give me a break...

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 10th Apr 2017


    Yep, yep and yep bat...
    And a lovely thing it was yesterday, when the visit with my educated, leftist, liberal relatives was brought up short by my talking along those same lines...
    If you want to curtail a diatribe in its tracks, talk about Ben Watson...Whoo-eee!
    Not that it gets one any closer to equitable ways of human organization...but momentarily very satisfying!

    Personally, I think of the arts as a universal language...and all humans are innately creative..a natural thing to do until some adult/expert tells you you're no good at it...it's not up to certain levels or standards...and from that point on people label themselves as non-artistic/can't draw a straight line and the art critic/teacher is born...and so is that category/box/class to place artists in...
    Instead of a ready source of creative innovation, thru free playing/mark making/movement improv/stream of consciousness writing...it's a means of creative control and classism...for profit...
    But, for those free thinking rebels, the arts are or can be, a form of cleavage in the Ben Watson sense...usually when the artist is not tied to making a living off their art or maybe in spite of it...

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 11th Apr 2017

    I donno bat...thinking, (for me anyway) there's not many alternatives to searching for/learning about more equitable ways humans might organize themselves, other than one on one or small group discussions like these...
    Might seem futile to the bigger picture, but at least I'm getting informed in ways I don't get anywhere else...
    Currently, addressing the bigger picture is for those who have access to it...and certainly benefit from it...

    Most people I know don't want/seek change...outside of a better financial one...
    No one, who isn't in a bad way, wants to make their immediate situation different...and most people I know think capitalism IS the best system...and if their situation isn't good now, it'll get better after the next election!
    They can't be bothered to read about alternatives that would demand critical thinking...everybody seems conditioned to tv news or short essays that confirm their current opinions...and feel they are thinking logically/critically...who am I to disagree?

    I think Watson digs beneath the facade/veneer that we all live behind...and exposes the contradictions...his insight into Coleridge speaks volumes about how people capitulate when their efforts to educate others and capitalize on it don't pan out...
    But most consider someone who writes like BW does, as crass, threatening, ha...OTL !

    Watson IS hard for me to decipher, (he references so much I'm unfamiliar with and consequently have to research and then get sidetracked on tangents!), but I'm determined to stick with it...his insight are far too interesting to stop now!
    Looking forward to your insights on his insights!

  • Bat Chainpuller 11th Apr 2017

    "I donno bat...thinking, (for me anyway) there's not many alternatives to searching for/learning about more equitable ways humans might organize themselves, other than one on one or small group discussions like these..."
    Might seem futile to the bigger picture, but at least I'm getting informed in ways I don't get anywhere else...
    Currently, addressing the bigger picture is for those who have access to it...and certainly benefit from it..."

    Tend to agree.

    "Most people I know don't want/seek change...outside of a better financial one...
    No one, who isn't in a bad way, wants to make their immediate situation different...and most people I know think capitalism IS the best system...and if their situation isn't good now, it'll get better after the next election!
    They can't be bothered to read about alternatives that would demand critical thinking...everybody seems conditioned to tv news or short essays that confirm their current opinions...and feel they are thinking logically/critically...who am I to disagree?"



    Again quite true and understandable. Those not in a bad way certainly don't really want change and those in a bad way wish to become not in a bad way...usually for themselves. Talking about real change with most becomes a matter of logic for me now. When they bring up a problem or issue, like some horrendous documentary about how the Japanese slaughter whales and dolphins, I try to connect the dots back to institutional structures that foster that kind of behaviour rather than leave it as some kind of ethical or moral issue...market capitalist advocates love leaving things as moral/ ethical issues because it reduces the argument to personal behaviour and viewpoints, merely matters of education, that leads to legislative solutions like introducing anti-racist laws (which usually aren't solutions), and the debates go on and on and on, which the ruling classes love, and make people feel good (or bad) about themselves whilst the institutional structures that foster the sort of shit they are discussing remain outside the domain of consideration. It's people that are the problem, not systems, which immediately sets up this hierarchy of morality and goodness...a whole bunch of people over there thinking they're morally good while those over there are bad...I suppose that's where this notion of the Other comes in. The outer Other rather than the inner...the different Other...the alien Other...the morally bad Other...not in my tribe Other. It's similar to the notion that happiness is not about money. That many poverty stricken people are happy! "See, I saw their kids running around with smiles on their faces, laughing and stuff...they're a really happy people. We're all so stressed and angst ridden over here." I drop my head in sadness and frustration at these 'observations' but they are ubiquitous and constantly reinforced through media and religion plays a major role in this...that's why politicians love pandering to it. Keeps people away from where the real problems lie. I think this is why Ben likes Bishop William Brown...Bishop William Montgomery Brown's Communism and Christianism Analysed and Contrasted from the Marxian and Darwinian Points of View from which Ben reads from in his latest radio show, https://archive.org/details/TheJesusShow5Iv2017.

    Ben certainly likes to dig. I had this great quote from an email he sent me which I cannot find, about digging into capillaries and corpuscles and stuff...getting into the tangled threads...with scalpel in hand...it was a beauty. He didn't like the look of this place however. He reckoned it came across as liberal moralism with a huge 'don't impinge' sign above the door. And I reckon there is that kind of element here a little. The NSP has it to. I think in some ways that's why I go off a little sometimes. The nicety nice gets too much. Like Michael Albert's playlist for his new venture, of which I was one of the few to participate in (given up now!). The music just drives me into bland land, accompanied by a huge yawn, that kills inspiration completely...I like Dylan's voice and some of his shit but as a voice of a radical generation...FUCK OFF. He's a charlatan. But the playlist just makes me feel when it comes to music specifically, most people just give up and want to be spoon fed so they can tap there foot or stair up into the sky or daydream while listening to some dude sing about getting a blowjob at the Chelsea Hotel (who gives a fuck), someone with only ten dollar bills, or some hard rain that's gonna fall. All sung to the same kind of chord progressions, all sung in a similar way to get the emotions stirred and tears rolling maybe followed up by a faster happier foot tapper to drag us back out of the morbid state they just put us in...manipulation I say...like shooting fish in a barrel if you know the right harmonic and melodic moves (as Frank said on Burnt Weeny Sandwich, "Everybody here is wearing a uniform, and don't kid yourself.")...and some of these musical manipulators are only in their late teens or early twenties, apparently with incredible insights into the human condition like Ed "Stick My Finger Down My Throat" Sheerin (don't know how to spell it, nor do I care if its wrong). I mean give me Captain Beefheart's Plastic Factory or Veterans Day Poppy, any day.

    The thing is when you come out hard at other music, you step on people's tastes and view of themselves, their whole cultivated self, their uniform...but I'm used to it...when you like the music I like, you never hear it outside anywhere and people tell you to turn it off in your own house and car...friends will play me (and I fucking sit there and listen) their favs, like hours of Steely Dan, or Super Tramp concerts, Santana (you know because I'm a guitarist and perhaps they think I haven't heard him) or anyone, but if I play some of the shit I like, you can feel the awkwardness and the impatience...the talk grows very quickly over the top of the music as I quietly walk across to turn it off and they don't even notice.

    Be back later...gotta get to work.

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 12th Apr 2017

    For an all too short week, i'm up here in the rural Kentucky hills where we hope to retire from the capitalist hamster wheel, providing the market doesn't fuck us or if we lose our health and insurance isn't affordable...all the usual fears...but for a time, I can relax, read and reflect on all these issues before heading back to the rat race...
    Yesterday, my old college roommate came with her botanist friend/colleague and that friend's homeschooled daughter to i.d. wildflowers... this kid is younger than the middle school kids I teach...I could go on and on about this kids unique, unspoiled, creative outlook on life...and the contrast between the stressed, angry, defiant, drugged and resigned attitudes of the institutionalized kids I deal with...but I'm sure you can fill in the blanks...
    My point being, when left to our own devices...we humans are still capable of making good decisions and recognizing consequences for our actions that are no longer practiced becuz of capitalist institutions...

    It's a common reply from schooled kids to say, with pride I might add, "miss, we don't read..." And it does no good at all to tell them what they're missing out on...they just dig in...
    I think it's becuz we made reading/schooling compulsory and killed curiosity and self motivation...now they just follow instructions or go to jail...

    Pink Floyd's, "we don't need no education...we don't need no thot control..."

    What came first, the dominator or the slave?
    When did we get so removed from nature and decided to control her...
    When did we lose our capacity to recognize our complicity in our own demise...
    We take one step forward and 10 back...while climate change relentlessly advances...

    Are the leaders really evil...or are we all on a juggernaut whose trajectory is out of control?
    Do we wear blinkers and not question becuz we're scared or just stupid lemmings...or it's futile...?

    Whew!...sorry for the redundant vent...gonna go for a walk in the woods despite all the warnings about the Lyme disease!
    Lyme, Zika, Ebola, lions, tigers and bears..!!!

    Then I'll treat myself to more Ben Watson!

    • Bat Chainpuller 12th Apr 2017

      Rant and vent away Kristi, it's the closest that virtual communication gets to how actual conversation works...responses undisturbed by editing and good grammar...a subjective spewing forth that accidentally reveals what most usually want and keep hidden...where cogent argument is often entangled with a subjective licorice all- sorts...a kind of 'I know' but 'I don't know' at the same time. A dialectical flux of contradictions that pulls the rug out from under our own feet, where nothing has any solidity anymore...well, 'nothing' doesn't, does it. I recognise a need for institutional change and Parecon delivers on a minimalist possibility but not on certainty while other things offer some present practical examples yet both are useless on their own. But so what? That I read this shit may be nothing more than I'm attracted to it. Others just aren't and never will be. It s striking that Michael Akbert's ventures, projects etc., attract a small number maybe at first, possibly no one like his latest, but that they attract very few if any of his fellow radical/revolutionary mates is telling.
      That IOPS has failed in this regard, that the internet has failed in this regard, is telling, but also, that radical organising on the gound, face to face, the very thing that most suggest is the only real way to get shit done, has failed...let's face it, it is highly probable that ten years from now radicals/revolutionaries will be imploring that 'we' must organise or else...

      It is also a pisser to me that I find so much tedium within the revolutionary...the yawn comes and I drop off and move somewhere else for a while, like I'm bouncing between two extremes...that Chomsky nevervtalks about art and is rarely really funny and that Albert's playlist is like a banal street sign deserving to be vandalised...like the all inclusiveness of the radical street party designed to elicit revolutionary consciousness but really "it's just a fucking party dude, woohoo!"...like a school fair.

      I don't even know where I am going with this but it's the sort of thing I would say face to face with you Kristi over a coffee and a sticky bun.

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 13th Apr 2017

    Do you suppose we need a fix of something subversive to break/balance....a need to cleave...the monotony of the everyday treadmill....?
    Some people simply can't/won't break out of the conditioning...
    If it wasn't for your introducing me to this kind of free playing music, there's no way in hell that I would have gotten passed the first few minutes initially...I still find a lot of it jarring, but when it's on, I find myself thinking outside my self imposed boundaries...

    For instance, the cattle next door started their usual lowing before their dinnertime last nite...but they never stopped...they got louder and more frantic...they were still at it late into the nite and at 5 am this morning they're still hollering...
    I'm thinking the guy that feeds them got hung up or whatever...sooner or later, the cattle will either get fed, or they'll go back to eating grass...
    So, no doubt an extrapolating stretch...but are we humans like those cattle...locked into routine, habit, dependent and waiting for someone else to feed us rather than feed ourselves...can't think outside the dependent/dominating conditioning...?

    I agree with what you said about steering a conversation away from the moral aspects of the horrors humans perpetrate in the world, to the core, the root cause of the imbalance...the dominating systems...
    Using logic is a better tool...but I've gotten into crazy arguments with friends/family where "my" logic only goes so far...and they don't think I'm being logical at all...just artistic...
    What's the catalyst, the "trick" to facilitate connecting the dots for people who think they already have !!!?

    I still think parecon is the best system out of all the alternatives I've read about...simply becuz it addresses all the issues by providing an equitable framework that most people need anyway...even if it's a transition to something even better in the future....
    but also think that when the shit hits the fan, people will try lots of things till they find what works for them and their local area/community...kinda like homeschooling or unschooling...families muddle their way thru initially and either figure out what works for them...or they put the kids back in school...
    (Like the cows!?)...

    As a painter, I've always been very focused on technique and contrive visual narratives about feminism, paganism, capitalism...stuff I feel is important...but probably with that moral take...
    This summer, I'm listening to free play music and seeing what happens!!!

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 13th Apr 2017

    Just finished listening to the jesus show...loved it...gonna listen to it again on the return trip to florida....

    • Bat Chainpuller 14th Apr 2017

      "Do you suppose we need a fix of something subversive to break/balance....a need to cleave...the monotony of the everyday treadmill....?
      Some people simply can't/won't break out of the conditioning...
      If it wasn't for your introducing me to this kind of free playing music, there's no way in hell that I would have gotten passed the first few minutes initially...I still find a lot of it jarring, but when it's on, I find myself thinking outside my self imposed boundaries..."

      A good friend of mine, a musician, finds it odd, or confusing, that other improvising musicians eschew the sonic possibilities, the open fields and infinities of free improvising in favour of more certain shores. But there are career musicians and professionals that can't abide the lack of employment and minuscule remuneration that comes with the territory. The market says no! I can find stuff jarring, at first, but I listen anyway because it opens doors, opens the terrain onto which I can step. The public like what they like but you look at what they get fed (it's getting worse), and it's pretty homogenised...even community radio finds it hard to get listeners because the disc jockeys sound like real people just chatting away and who wants to listen to real people.

      I don't dislike Albert's playlist, although I have never liked Springsteen, it's just I've heard it already and don't need to hear it again and I don't need to be reminded of the world by a bunch of people who have all had top forty hits...music as 'inspiring' decoration. The world doesn't walk in four four and neat packages...it's a maelstrom of contradiction but the last thing people want is for their 'art' to mirror that madness...understandable. But why not explore it? The thing is I find free improvised music soothing and engaging.

      Ben is so much better at describing things, perhaps because he is a writer. He recently wrote this...he was reading Donald E Scott's The Electric Sky,

      "The music I'm interested in attempts to glimpse infinity in the interstitial details of the tiny, and reading you talk about galaxy formation as examples of Maxwell's equations fitted perfectly."

      He makes all these connections with shit even if the creators of said shit have no idea of the things he mentions. He also recently, on the Music With My Insane Friend blog wrote this comment under my Evil Dick post,

      "You're so angry, James ... I suspect this is the pylon of interstellar charge which keeps your fingers moving on the fretboard and makes arcs of sparking grace through the inky styes of commerce."

      I mean, what a great sentence..."...the pylon of interstellar charge...makes arcs of sparking grace through the inky styes of commerce." Fuck!

      I wish! Dylan/Springsteen eat your heart out. Reading his writing is like listening to an improvisation that leaves no fork in the road uninvestigated or is that uninFestigated. It's not like the contrived academic utterances of a Timothy Morton or a thousand others, even if it does leaves me bamboozled, it's the joy of the journey. As he says at the very start of A,C&C,

      "This book proposes a new species of ENTERTAINMENT, obnoxious yet rewarding, a birch-twig goad, a febrile [my daughter had a febrile convulsion aged 1 and a 1/2, like she was burning up, melting...] stimulant to the Joy of Thought. Where references and footnotes are deployed, this is not in order to earn academic credit-points, but in order to supplement your reading with extra jokes and insults and occasions for investigation."

      But he is probably right...I am angry. A drummer friend once used to call me Becker after that comedy series with Ted Danson. Sometimes I'm looking for that wall to butt my head against, to keep me active, stimulated...perhaps that's a similar thing to this notion of the dialectic, a word Chomsky once stated he didn't really know what it meant? Striking! There's probably an anger underneath the free improvisor in me, who while playing, is fighting off those demons and contradictions, my failings, inadequacies and self-doubt, in a world that doesn't give a shit about children who live in Mongolian sewer! A world that denies rather than invites. No, you are supposed to just put on Dylan and everything will be alright...this land is your land! In what sense? See, there's that anger!

      "For instance, the cattle next door started their usual lowing before their dinnertime last nite...but they never stopped...they got louder and more frantic...they were still at it late into the nite and at 5 am this morning they're still hollering...
      I'm thinking the guy that feeds them got hung up or whatever...sooner or later, the cattle will either get fed, or they'll go back to eating grass..."

      Get out that instrument and play along with them.

      "So, no doubt an extrapolating stretch...but are we humans like those cattle...locked into routine, habit, dependent and waiting for someone else to feed us rather than feed ourselves...can't think outside the dependent/dominating conditioning...?"

      I'm locked into routine. Even here on my Facebook called IOPS. Six days a week of regulation by The Man, and at nights, I try to steal time back. If I'm going to be fresh and alert, I be that for myself, not for The Man.

      I suppose that's why I post so much of this music here, to try to get others to see its revolutionary nature. It is Free Association Music. Lyric-less. Why can't the revolutionary song be just music, just sound, rather than the fabricated nonsense of the Zimmerman. The patronising liberalism of Springsteen or the condescending concession of a John Lennon. Why must tears be invoked for something to be considered moving. Does Humor Belong in Music? Does the weird opaque melodic insertionism of Frank Zappa into the blues form lessen it's impact or Cleave the usual with wide eyed joyous surprise...the face of a student when he heard that tiny melodic fragment inside Cosmic Debris...he fucking heard it! You do not know how rare that is!

      I realise Rap, Hip Hop, is a true revolutionary musical move, much like that of Free Jazz from Ornette to late Coltrane, that arose in parallel with the civil rights movement and Black Panthers, but it certainly wasn't a white move...but Big Daddy White Geezer has a tendency to appropriate what isn't theirs and make money off it...more than the originators...and it is interesting to ponder the notion that black music innovation like free jazz, left to its own devises, would slowly fade as a marginalised indulgence that Big Daddy White Geezer chose to ignore. One could say that Rap had a more universal appeal, and more easily accessible as a craft to whitey, so, much like what Elvis or Bill Haley and the Comets and even The Rolling Stones provided for rhythm and blues, a saleable commodity on mass level, white Rap opens up market opportunity outside and far from the Hood! (here comes that anger!) I ain't gonna Rap. I'm a middle class white boy from Melbourne for fuck sake...and white boy Rap annoys me no less than white boy blues can. I won't listen to Clapton playing the blues...why bother, go to the source. Napoleon Murphy Brock and George Duke used to say this phrase during performances of the Mothers of Invention, "ain't it funky now?". Frank once said of the phrase that it was something no white person has a right to utter. Yes, he played the blues form, and was influenced by it but he weren't no blues musician or guitarist...but his great friend and influence Johhny Guitar Watson, was and he was truly funky!

      "I agree with what you said about steering a conversation away from the moral aspects of the horrors humans perpetrate in the world, to the core, the root cause of the imbalance...the dominating systems..."
      Using logic is a better tool...but I've gotten into crazy arguments with friends/family where "my" logic only goes so far...and they don't think I'm being logical at all...just artistic...
      What's the catalyst, the "trick" to facilitate connecting the dots for people who think they already have !!!?"

      I don't succeed most of the time and opportunities are rare, but I won't let a chance to 'get one in', when it arrives, sometimes at the most inopportune moments. And my logic is always faulty! The Angry Soapbox...but not always angry. I am however still angry at all those experienced, long term, been-involved-for-decades, radical mates of Albert's, who not only deserted this place but never even entered it. And they keep writing about the same boring shit...and probably listening to the same boring music. Geez I'm a hard arse!

      "I still think parecon is the best system out of all the alternatives I've read about...simply becuz it addresses all the issues by providing an equitable framework that most people need anyway...even if it's a transition to something even better in the future...."

      Agree. Although I'm not sure Ben would be so kind to Albert, like others here at IOPS! I once sent him an email telling him I was reading some of Chomsky's linguistics because I had left A,C&C at home, and he rifled back that he was sorry I felt a need to do so. He is not enamoured of his type of rationality I think, or his lack of acknowledgment of the power of the subjective and its dialectic with the objective...or something like that. There's definitely a 'boringness' to Chomsky, especially his voice, but I still have my moments when I find Chomskian starkness appealling.

      "but also think that when the shit hits the fan, people will try lots of things till they find what works for them and their local area/community...kinda like homeschooling or unschooling...families muddle their way thru initially and either figure out what works for them...or they put the kids back in school...
      (Like the cows!?)..."

      Always when the shit hits the fan when there is no choice...post apocalyptic...that's the danger really...who knows where that will lead? Not that there won't be hood ideas...

      "As a painter, I've always been very focused on technique and contrive visual narratives about feminism, paganism, capitalism...stuff I feel is important...but probably with that moral take..."

      Every time I listen to myself, which I weirdly enjoy doing actually, I hear a tightness and reticence...like a fear of some sort...that's that point where the anger surfaces probably. One usually tucks it away in routine but it gets exposed as a stinging open wound at other times when the routine is cleaved. One needs humour, laughter and plenty of it...unfortunately the revolutionary movement seems very very devoid of that gut wrenching humour, that stupidity, that IMMATURITY, so necessary for life.

      "This summer, I'm listening to free play music and seeing what happens!!!"

      I play free music to see what happens!!!


      "Just finished listening to the jesus show...loved it...gonna listen to it again on the return trip to florida...."

      His radio shows are unique and the best in the business. There is some of the best improvising to be heard on it, mixed and interspersed with poetry, field recordings, readings, politics, and of course, conventional musics.

      My nom de guerre on SoundCloud is I digress Indeed and I found this in A,C&C which Ben agrees is a longwinded way of saying the same thing,

      "It is a peculiarity of thought that it never remains by itself, but always digresses to other things. The thought is the point to which I should stick, but it is the nature of this point, not to be able to stick to it. Thinking is a thing full of contradictions, a dialect secret."(Joseph Dietzgen, 'Letters on logic', II, 1880-1883, in Art, Class & Cleavage: Quantulumcunque Concerning Material Esthetix, Ben Watson 1998, page 2)

    • Bat Chainpuller 14th Apr 2017

      Not that there won't be GOOD ideas, not hood!

    • Bat Chainpuller 15th Apr 2017

      I won't let a chance to 'get one in' pass by....

    • Bat Chainpuller 15th Apr 2017

      I meant "Every time I listen to myself play music..."

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 17th Apr 2017

    reality check, back in florida...brutal drive, but good reflection time...
    it’s those logical connections watson makes that continue to amaze me…brings everything around to “those actual relations springing from the existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our eyes.” (marx)
    and yeah, the guy can write like no one i’ve ever read before…so natural and un-contrived…and that’s precisely what makes reading/listening to him so engaging…i’m constantly having little light bulb moments…or laughing out loud!
    or sentences like what he wrote about your music…whoa back…!
    I’m angry too…one of the reasons i’m cutting back on all the leftists writing about all the shit that’s currently going down with trump, brexit, russia, china…w.w.III in the wings…my spouse accused me of hating america again…but that’s not the case, it’s all those class struggle connections!!!
    but, it’s like leading the proverbial horse to water…and my being angry all the time isn’t getting thru to him or anyone else…so, i’m mainly reading philosophy, social theory, “classics” and weaning myself off the daily email fixes of doom and gloom…just not much an individual can do outside of getting personally informed and making a comment here and there…or channeling that info into art…
    really liked the 2 sentence trotsky summary about Lenin’s ‘what is to be done’, “not a single progressive idea has begun with a ‘mass base,’ otherwise it would not have been a progressive idea. it is only in the last stage that the idea finds its masses.” hmmmmmm…chewing on that one…making those connections…

    routines…i’m very routine oriented…but always amazed when i break out of one that i don’t die and number two, it’s usually better…and the more i experiment, the easier it gets to question everything…it’s my way of cleaving…
    So now I'm out to cleave everything at some point...to experience the possible benefits...whatever the case...routines of all kinds...sleep, work, foods, music, arts, culture, religion, politics, all unquestioned beliefs and comfort zones...question and change it up...
    What the fuck do I have to lose!

    Well hell, gotta stop and get ready for work...