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EMBODIED GESTURE, LUCE IRIGARAY AND WOMAN'S POLITICAL IMAGINARY IN DIGITAL MUSIC PRODUCTION SEVEN COMPOSITIONS AND FEMINIST INQUIRY BY JOOHYUN KIM A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial ful fillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Stephen Miles Sarasota, FL May, 2012
ii This project is dedicated to my brother, who I received out of my mother's womb. You are eight years old now. As you grow older and the past recedes, our births will only become closer in time. I dedicate this to you and the eclipse of our worlds.
iii Acknowledgments There are many close friends who I would like to thank for their indomitable spirits and contributions to my life --who have created with me alternate time zones and been my fellow visionaries, bandits, and sisters. I would like to th ank my friend Alisdair Lee who gave me generous feedback, and in the most frantic moments of the writing and composing process provided constructive insight and commentary on my work. Your friendship has contributed so much health and sanity to my life. I would also like to thank my friend Aria Alamalhodaei who has rescued me countless number of times, and whose rogue integrity I have always admired. The projects that we have attempted to unfold together despite the obstacle of the mundane, have disclosed t o me the political directionality of love, and the meaning of shared growth. I would also like to thank my friend Jackie Wang. Our conversations gave me sanctified strength to remember my will, and when we spoke, a lucidity seemed to nest which emptied the world of inquietude. I would like to thank all of my political allies who understand the emotional and intellectual commitment necessary to struggle for justice. I will never forget working with you -and the cooperation we achieved to make big changes. I am grateful to have been a part of that drive for justice, and to have been reminded of the profound ways in which we affect one another. I love all of you so much --Alexandria Brown for the illuminating conversations on feminism and philosophy, for the i ntractable wildness of our friendship, Claire Comiskey and Analeah Rosen for your commitment to social
iv justice and daily love work. Andrea, Daniela, Betty, Nash, Naushin, Eva, with whom I have shared moments of shameless clarity. I would like to thank all of those friends who have retired from my life with whom I am kindred forever. I continue to remember you, and love you fiercely for all that you have taught me, inadvertently or not, about how to live. I also want to, of course, thank Luce Irigaray, whos e writings and thought were a lyrical and political reality which catalyzed and guided me through irreversible transmutations towards a radical and embodied consciousness and beyond. Lastly, my mother, who is from an/other language, who has brought up a da ughter in other languages, and whose ties to me are profound but never settled. Our nomadic love is always in the back of my mind as feminist aspiration. Our bond lies at the crux of the active resistance and creative dismantling of patriarchy. I am always trying to reach you through the structural interpolations which have made it so that we are strangers to one another. This project is also for all of those who I have not yet loved, for those who live and continue to struggle, for love that has died and w hich I bereave. Our impossible convalescence, I hope, will continue to bring us together in uncanny ways to create long term agency that will resist the false segregation of our fates.
v Table of Contents Dedication ii Acknowledgments i ii Abstract vi Introduction 1 Section One: Ideological Commitments Creative Process 4 Section Two: Creative Process 11 Section Three: The Compositions 20 Conclusion 39 Appendix 1 41 Works Cited 42 Works Consul ted 43
vi ABSTRACT In this creative project, I produced seven sonic compositions interpreting and strategizing my work with some key aspects of Luce Irigaray's political thought on Woman. Irigaray's thought on Woman has a stron g political and ethical prerogative which is important for a provisionally embodied search for a women's place in politics and language. I rematerialized Irigaray's thought on speaking (as) Woman, mimicry, and disjunctive becoming, as a way of thinking abo ut performing, listening to, and creating music. Irigaray notes that speaking (as) woman is "to loose the signifier from the signified, to escape the fixity of representation by an ever changing signification." Speaking (as) woman, is vital for feminine be coming, which is a desirous mode of becoming, not indexed upon the past memory dominated by phallocentric self referentiality. I have called my sonic process of interaction with Ableton Live, a digital audio workstation, "morphing gesture", which entailed a process of mutual determination between me and something else. The Ableton environment allowed me to interact with the software to produce surprising or accidental results -sounds, themes, or musical phrases which were less transcriptions of preformed mu sical thoughts, and more a processual interlocking of multiple gestures, adjustments, themes, and chance. I incorporate public rhetoric and speaking in my musical compositions, as a form of examining what is included in the political. Part of my project wa s to attempt
vii to unravel the meaning of these political speeches by manipulating and excerpting parts of them to produce speech clips which were non universalizing, and instead articulated something like Irigaray's theoretical gesture to horizontally re enf lesh men and women in locations alternative to phallogocentrism. I have tried to explore the contiguities between music, speech, and living beings --that which is intimately significant, meaningful, and potentializing. To compose was to processually materi alize the "sensible" with the symbolic in the fluid medium of music. Insofar as the tone signifies presence, I wanted to reimagine language so that I could signify those speaking bodies in absentia via a disjunctive and arranged actualization in music. The interval which takes centerstage in my thesis is the mediation of the I/you relation through new language thought within the aspirational horizon of sexual difference. This marks the ethical relation between two as a political gesture in taking up sexual difference as a condition of possibility for a feminine imaginary, a political future which does not yet exist.
viii Note: I use abbreviations throughout this paper to reference Luce Irigaray's major works since they are frequently cited. Marine Lo ver of Nietzsche MLN This Sex Which is Not One TSNO Speculum of the Other Woman SOOW Ethics of Sexual Difference ESD
1 Introduction Luce Irigaray, a French feminist psychoanalyst, linguist, and philosopher writing in the 20th century, theorized on feminine subjectivity and rebelled against its characterization as "lack" in Lacanian psychoanalysis. She is now a widely read and highly influential thinker. The first time I read Irigaray she immediately grabbed my attention. Something about her writing affected me in a distinct way, and it seemed that she spoke in a mode which opened out what had been prohibited me, a woman -it seemed her language was meant for my ears. Irigaray's thought on Woman has a strong political and ethical prerogative which is important for a provisionally embodied search for a woman's place in politics and language. I use the capitalized "Woman" her e and throughout this paper to refer to the particular valences of this term in Irigaray's works. I have attempted in this creative project to engage her philosophical ideas and practices, and produce a series of seven compositions. This project was initia lly meant to work with video and its planned course was an installation. Due to medium constraints as well as the increased specificity in the direction of my project, I reconfigured my goals to work only with music as a medium. In the first section of thi s paper, I draw out my understanding of Irigaray's theorizations on speaking (as) woman, sexual difference, female sexuality, and her critique of the phallic model of discourse. While the field of research which encompasses the unpacking, interpretation, a nd development of her work is vast and includes highly variable readings of her texts, for the purposes of this project, I
2 provide only a brief summary overview of some key aspects of her thought. I will draw most heavily from Speculum of the Other Woman, Marine Lover of Nietzsche This Sex Which is Not One and The Ethics of Sexual Difference to foreground an engaged reading of her works which then became a sort of perceptual organ with which to sense my way in the process of composing. After I provide a b rief description of those aspects of Irigaray's thought which are relevant to my project, I describe my method of composition as morphing gesture. In doing so, I touch upon other influences. In the final section of this thesis, I explicate my intention re garding each of the seven the musical compositions, and by unpacking them, show how it is these compositions were wrought out of my understanding of Irigaray's thought as perspective on composition and musical ideas. What I have presented as their final in scription is a mature stage of their disjunctive and emergent developments. The thesis project began as a plan for a video opera involving a narratological undertaking of a girl in search of her own language. This allegory became a lived one as I worked th rough these compositions looking for ways to articulate with the mediation of music a living interval space, an in between. This in between space is the space between dichotomies, and the space from which an ethics of alterity tied to real sexuate others m ight be thought and practiced. The following critical account of my engagements with Irigaray's thought and compositional practice is in some ways a conjunction of process, research, doing, composing, reflective practice through writing, and a sometimes he sitant and sometimes furied crossing of multiple borders. The I' which I assert here I try to describe temporally.
3 Composing as a woman means understanding the valences of the feminine subject as they are developed through discursive practices, an underst anding which will be mobilized by Irigaray's writing methods. The purpose of my thesis project is to follow a line of questioning opened up via Irigaray, with a processual ethos of composition, in the name of an political project centered on the figure of Irigaray's Woman. I have needed Irigaray in order to remind me of the positivity of being Woman and the political and ethical prerogative of mediation.
4 Section One: Ideological Commitments In this section I will briefly describe three terms operative in Irigaray's philosophy --speaking (as) woman, sexual difference, and mimicry. I will then describe my creative process in generating music during the course of the thesis time frame. Irigaray's "Woman" is a figure for the question of sexual d ifference. The way in which "Woman" is deployed in Irigaray's writing indicates a double belonging of "woman". "Woman" has the valence of belonging to that which is defined by masculine parameters. She is "the negative, the underside and the reverse of th e only morphologically designatable organ: the penis." (TSNO 26). But it also leaves this category of negation to stand as an accusation, charge, and complaint. In doing so, Woman is positively qualified, and may be abjured of her compliance with the domi nant phallic economy. Parler femme is a practice which has implications for the speaker, and how Woman uses and inhabits language. "...by speaking (as) woman, one may attempt to provide a place for the other' as feminine." (TSNO 135) 1 1 Subjectivity denied to woman ("indisputably this provides the financial backing for every irreducible constitution as an object: of representation, of discourse, of desire." (SOOW 133)) is a precondition for the existence of patriarchal order. This oppression is not experientially enlivened by discourse "directly". Masculine subjectivity which takes as its loan the denial of subjectivity to women, is maintained and s ustained via a process of objectivization whereby Woman constitutes herself as "lost". For Irigaray, the priority is not to make an experience "visible", since representing experience is not so singular and simple, but to interrogate the ways by which cert ain categories of silence are rendered. Irigaray states that woman's difference cannot be spoken in meta language (TSNO 135), but that we must interrogate the horizons along which we think. Irigaray is interested in speaking to "women's
5 In the process of c omposition, I sought to understand parler femme as a way of inhabiting language. I wanted to know, can I establish the "underside" and the "reverse" in my own musical vision, and can my expression of it serve as a "charge," a "complaint" --speak as a woman ? Sexual Difference and Disjunctive Becoming Irigaray believes that the problem of systematic political erasure of women must be resolved within that established difference of sexuation 2 rather than to dispel the feminine under the banner of its total denotation by phallogocentrism. "...the exploitation of woman takes place in the difference between genders and therefore must be resolved within difference rather than by abolishing it." 3 According to Irigaray, feminine sexuality "has always been" concept ualized on the basis of masculine parameters. "We can assume that any theory of the subject has always been appropriated by the "masculine". When she submits to (such a) theory, woman fails to realize that she renouncing the specificity of her own relatio nship to the experience" but in doing so she is to pointing out the manifest properties of silence from the perspective of its power. This is not only a rendering "positive" of previous "silence". It is a rendering of the "positive" as perpetuating its mode of self reproduction via this silence. Repression is a derivative of as well as a "primary" location for the perpetuation of the phenomenal. 2 Irigaray asserts that the issue of sexual difference is the issue of our age, the consideration of which, she says, would lead to worlds more fecund than any known to date Sexual difference designates a would be horizon of urgent political prospection and grounds for the contestation of an alleged symmetry between the sexes. In Irigaray's work, "masculine" and "feminine" do not indicate an irre ducible bedrock of reality, but are gestures to mark sexual difference as unmistakably significant -a gesture in which the stakes are the political shifts that revealing such an horizon might potentiate. This is to say that sexual difference is not a facil e overture to predetermined categories of difference nor is sexual difference the only, original or terminal category of difference. 3 Irigaray, Luce & Noah Guynn, "The Question of the Other" (Yale French Studies, No. 87, Another Look, Another Woman: Retra nslations of French Feminism, 1995), 10.
6 imaginary. Subjecting herself to objectivization in discourse -by being "female." (SOOW 133). In the masculine sexual imaginary, Woman is systematically objectivized as that which is foreign to, yet sustains phallogocentrism. Phallogocentris m is the privileging of the economy of relations and linguistic practices centered around the recognized value and desirability of the phallus. Woman is "the primary matter...whose silent presence installs the master in his monologic mode." 4 Irigaray's "Wo man" is a figure for a feminism of sexual difference. While she marks the indexical limit of phallocentric discourse and male desire 5 she is also that which escapes this logic, that which cannot be understood by it. Her pleasure is plural, "illogical", an d "already two." 6 She cannot "signify" without producing something of her own, even if it is her own role as associate. 7 Woman is always already beyond the denotation of her form. 4 Bradiotti, Rosi, "Of Bugs and Women" in Engaging with Irigaray. ed. Carolyn Burke, Naomi Schor, Margaret Whitford (New York: Columbia Universtiy Press, 1194) 119. I refer to Bradiotti's essay throughout this se ction for expedient and clear arguments on Irigaray's philosophy. 5 Diana J. Fuss in her article "Essentially Speaking" investigates how Irigaray's essentialism might work in her favor. Diana J. Fuss. "Essentially Speaking": Luce Irigaray's Language of Ess ence. Hypatia Vol. 3, No. 3, French Feminist Philosophy (Winter, 1989), 65. She importantly points out that it is not Irigaray who "erects the phallus as a single transcendental signified" 66. but that Irigaray's production of an apparently essentializin g metaphor for female sexuality is an exposure and rhetorical reversal of Lacan's phallomorphism. 111. 6 Irigaray makes use of the morphological imagery of the two lips on the vulva in order to provide a figuration of woman's pleasure. As for woman, she touches herself in and of herself without any need for mediation, and before there is any way to distinguish activity from passivity. Woman "touches herself" all the time, and moreover no one can forbid her to do so, for her genitals are formed of two lips in continuous contact. Thus, within herself, she is already two but not divisible into one(s) that caress each other." (TSNO 24). It is this movement of the always already (the touching touched of the two lips) that distinguishes her pleasure as well as h er specificity. It is important to note I think that it is this quality of female sexuality as precedent which is born out of the aspiration towards a female imaginary. 7 Woman may submit to this phallogocentric prescription of her own desire and may find pleasure there, but this is a concealment of the coercive subjugation of her sexuality, which is plural, for the purposes of man's appropriative fantasies, in service of what Irigaray calls "sameness". (TSNO 25)
7 Woman, for Irigaray is at once the object of a utopian gaze politically info rmed by the current state of Woman's oppression, as well as a site which marks a fluidity that escapes phallogocentric discourse, thereby a condition of possibility for the disruption of phallogocentrism. Woman in distinguishing these symptoms, may mark a horizon of sexual difference for feminine becoming. 8 This is the meaning of disjunctive becoming -becoming which does not know a "mine ness," and has no "it is me" to assure its project. Rosi Bradiotti theorizing on feminine subjectivity states: "Whatev er semblance of unity there may be is no God given essence but rather the fictional choreography of many levels into one socially operational self. It implies that what sustains the entire process of becoming subject is the will to know, the desire to say, the desire to speak, as a founding, primary, vital, necessary, and therefore original desire to become." 9 To establish a sexually differentiated structure of speaking posits a ground for a female political agency through the assertion of the positivity of sexual difference. 10 Irigaray states that in order to do this women must interrogate the conditions under which systematicity itself is possible, one of the paths to doing this, being mimicry 8 Rosi Bradiotti in "Of Bugs and Women" com pares Deleuze's and Irigaray's projects, arguing the concept of "becoming" to be central to both of their philosophical concerns. She further develops Irigaray's critique of Deleuze which points out that "the dispersal of sexuality into a generalized "beco ming" results in undermining the feminist claims to a redefinition..." 118. Bradiotti, Rosi, "Of Bugs and Women" in Engaging with Irigaray ed. Carolyn Burke, Naomi Schor, Margaret Whitford, (New York: Columbia Universtiy Press, 1994) 113. 9 Bradiotti, Ros i, "Of Bugs and Women" in Engaging with Irigaray ed. Carolyn Burke, Naomi Schor, Margaret Whitford, (New York: Columbia Universtiy Press, 1994) 119. 10 Bradiotti, Rosi, "Of Bugs and Women" in E ngaging with Irigaray ed. Carolyn Burke, Naomi Schor, Margare t Whitford, (New York: Columbia Universtiy Press, 1994) 123.
8 It was my goal in the process of music composition to incorpor ate Irigaray's emphasis on sexual difference, to examine assymmetrical power with an exploration of the relationship between speech, voice, and music. Mimesis Irigaray appropriates the term "mimesis" from the vocabulary of philosophy to describe her strat egy. She distinguishes between a creative mimesis and an imitative mimesis, the first of the two being a powerful strategy for feminine becoming. "To simplify there is mimesis as production, which would lie more in the realm of music, and there is the mime sis that would be already caught up in a process of imitation, specularization, adequation, and reproduction. It is the second form that is privileged throughout the history of philosophy and whose effects/symptoms, such as latency, suffering, paralysis of desire, are encountered in hysteria. The first form seems always to have been repressed, if only because it was constituted as an enclave within a "dominant" discourse. Yet it is doubtless in the direction of, and on the basis of, that first mimesis that the possibility of a woman's writing may come about." (TSNO 131) For Irigaray, the practice of creative mimesis entails not only replication or imitation, but a transformation of a form of subordination: "women's alleged talents at parroting the master's d iscourse, including the discourse of misogyny" 11 into "an affirmation 11 Schor, Naomi, "This Essentialism Which is Not One: Coming to Grips with Irigaray." in Engaging with Irigaray ed. by Carolyn Burke, Naomi Schor, and Margaret Whitford. New York: Columbia Univer sity Press, 1996. 67.
9 which might then begin to thwart the specular economy of representation 12 --that discursive operation which marks women as the object of transaction and guardian of "matter" to assure the coherence of discursive utterance. (TSNO 75) Mimesis is a fundamental and primary strategy by which Woman tears her voice away from that which makes her voice impossible. "To play with mimesis is thus, for a woman, to try to recover the place of her expl oitation by discourse, without allowing herself to be simply reduced to it...They also remain elsewhere: another case of the persistence of "matter," but also of "sexual pleasure." (TNSO 76) Irigaray states that in order for Woman to be heard by the domina nt language, she must go back through the master language and interrogate the logic which determines her. 13 "Thus, we have had to go back to [philosophical discourses] in order to try to find out what accounts for the power of its systematicity, the force of its cohesion, the resourcefulness of its strategies, the general applicability of its law and its value. That is, its position of mastery and of potential reappropriation of the various productions of history." (TSNO 74) The strategy of mimesis for Irig aray is not for women to "gain" subjectivity, but for women to recapitulate the modes by which masculine subjectivity is posited as the 12 Irigaray notes that the dominant scopic economy signifies Woman's consignment to passivity. For Irigaray, the sexual imaginary of the dominant phallic economy is organized by a logic of man's desire to force entry, to penetrate, and to appropriate the maternal. The male imaginary emphasizes "production, property, order, form, unity, visibility, erection." (TSNO 86). 13 "However, in order for woman to reach the place where she takes pleasure as woman, a long detour by way of the analy sis of the various systems of oppression brought to bear upon her is assuredly necessary. And claiming to fall back on the single solution of pleasure risks making her miss the process of going back through a social practice that her enjoyment requires." ( TSNO 31)
10 only viable form of subjectivity, while asking to be considered as an/other, irreducible and incommensurable to the masc uline subject. As Irigaray points out, this change cannot be created by sheer volition. The feminine is that which must work "through the multilayered structures of one's embodied self" 14 --a strategic essentialism. For Irigaray, to take the risk of strateg ic essentialism, is for woman to positively engage with her own difference. To play with mimesis is for Woman to no longer be a cause or an effect of the discursive logic of lack'. Instead she reports it, observes it, changes it. Woman looks, watches, sei zes. Irigaray states that this issue is not one of elaborating a new theory which takes woman as its object or subject, but of jamming the theoretical machinery itself, of "suspending its pretension to the production of a truth and of a meaning that are e xcessively univocal." (TSNO 78) As a composer, I felt strongly that Irigaray's creative notion of mimesis also be a driving force in my approach to music. I sought not only to create electronic music, but to achieve my own critical voice by examining poli tical repression. 14 Bradiotti, Rosi, "Of Bugs and Women" in E ngaging with Irigaray ed. Carolyn Burke, Naomi Schor, Margaret Whitford, (New York: Columbia Universtiy Press, 1994) 125.
11 Section Two: Creative Process Ableton Live I used Ableton Live 15 as my software for programming and composition. Ableton is known for its clip based view, a composition environment in which clips and samples might be vertically arrange d in a variety of instrument chains (see Appendix 1). I primarily worked in the "Arrangement View" of Ableton Live in order to program and sequence loops, and compose temporally. My instruments consisted of add on VST's (Virtual Studio Technology), instru ments which came with the Ableton software, samples taken from a variety of public domain websites, audio banks, and personally recorded material. Working with Ableton grants me a sanctuary, a space to create without being told what I am. It is in some way s a product of the development of the medium itself that has allowed a listening mode which is like Irigaray's touching touched of the lips, that which is creative, performing, and listening at the same time. 16 Influence 15 Ableton Live is a digital audio workstation (DAW) and software music sequencer. It played a significant role in "democratizing" music making. Ableton Live's interface, in contrast to other software sequencers, is designed to be an instrument for live performance. 16 Media theorist Simon Emmerson has noted that the practice of listenin g and composing in DJ/club culture behaves as a potential sanative for the mind/body duality. "As important, its attendant DJ/club culture has articulated new listening modes, integrating sampling and mixing into the act of listening itself. The composer p erformer listener relation has shifted, allowed and encouraged by the technology. This might suggest that the scene had been set for a final rapprochement between body and environmental streams in music, even a healing of the mind/body duality through tech nological mediation." Emmerson, Simon, Living Electronic Music (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2007), 71.
12 My aspirations were toward Irigaray 's aspirations towards a new poetics, a poetics with a different time, with a different sense of being, a female imaginary of multiplicity and touching touched, already two. There are no clear boundaries erected between my work and my relationship with Iri garay. Her work did not function as a prescriptive set of relata which needed re presentation in my work but was a lived relation. As Joanna Hodge writes, "Irigaray by contrast emphasizes a lived relation, that of sexual difference, and thus can identify what is missing from philosophical inquiry as women and femininity." 17 In order to attempt to be faithful to my compositional process, I will introduce and frame each of my compositions with direct quotes from Irigaray's texts. While I have given a brief e xposition of Irigaray's philosophical project in the above section, I will continue to reference her work and the work of other French feminists whose thought falls in line with Irigaray's aspirations, in order to explain further the connections between he r work and mine. I found Laurie Anderson's work to be interesting for my project because her work is explicitly political and she is an artist who intentionally plays with her status as a woman. She modulates her voice, has crafted different characters a nd avatars and moves frequently amongst these characters. Her work shows me that it is not possible to escape from one's status as a woman, but that an artist may feel the necessity to play with femininity, morphing it, masking it, transforming it. I do no t think her work asks the listener to believe that she is masking the "truth" of her gender. Rather it is 17 Hodge, Joanna, "Irigaray Reading Heidegger" in Engaging with Irigaray ed. by Carolyn Burke, Naomi Schor, and Margaret Whitford, (N ew York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 203.
13 this multiple play which is perhaps integral to her work as a musician, although not totalized by it. It is especially important that she is a perform ance artist and that her body is marked as female. I feel as though the electronic medium gives me an opportunity to evade this visual marker. But this is again something that I have struggled with, which makes it I think, important to state my perspective as a woman, and that my musical perspective and my aspirations are tied to my experience as a woman. I have made use of her "audio drag" performance technique in transposing vocal samples such that those excerpted from men's voices, may sound like a woman 's voice, and vice versa. I have done this in order to draw a line of passage between the vocal capabilities of men and women, perhaps as a way to signify and give sense to the potential fluidity of voice which is to speak (as) woman which "...implies a di fferent mode of articulation between masculine and feminine desire and language." (TSNO 136) General Process To first define in negative terms my compositional process, the music is not heard in my head then inscribed on paper. The Ableton software I wor ked with is a structured environment, the limitations within which I could develop a dialogue with the capabilities of the program. My interactions with the environment were characterized by a certain degree of stochasticism and improvisation which were th en formalized or refined into final "loop clips". Ableton was a structured environment I could navigate to produce "accidental results". I might compare this process with the metonymic form of writing which Diana Fuss discusses in her interpretation of
14 Iri garay's inhabitation of language. 18 The habitat of Ableton allowed me to interact with the software, producing surprising results at times -sounds, themes, or musical phrases which were less transcriptions of preformed musical thoughts, but more a processua l interlocking of multiple gestures, adjustments, themes, and chance. The complex flow of interactions situates and resituates what sorts of musical elements are possible, and how I interact with the direction of the piece. I did not have templates for any of my compositions. I begin with one instrument and "build" songs, adding instruments, carefully adjusting and shaping sound synthesis parameters. Certain musical elements are stacked one on top of another, and depending on instrumentation, and the manipu lation of software synthesizer parameters, a phrase which is melodically coherent, may become a sound constitutive of the dynamic timbres of the piece, but which does not determine its categorical content. It becomes difficult to distinguish timbrally betw een that which is "there" and no longer "there," an effect of the strategy of mimicry. Irigaray's ideas and her language and writing were paramount in my mind during the process of composing. I would like to isolate particular angles in Irigaray's thought which became an important contextual tenor in my work. Her work as intertextual reading of and inhabitation of discursive operations of phallogocentrism strategized through a disarticulation of the signifier from the signified is at the heart 18 Fuss, Diana J, "Essentially Speaking": Luce Irigaray's Language of Essence, Hypatia, Vol. 3, No. 3, French Feminist Philosophy (Winter 1989), 62. Diana Fuss makes the distinction between metaphor and meton ymy, metaphor operating along the axis of similarity, where metonymy operates along the axis of contiguity. She addresses the question as to whether in Irigaray, the feminine has an unconscious or is the unconscious. Fuss asks, "It is possible that the fem inine neither has an unconscious of its own nor represents man's unconscious but rather articulates itself as a specific operation within the unconscious: the play of metonymy?" 73.
15 of my projec t -to disrupt the representationalist veneer of positive production that is the surface' of music. Music which stays at this surface reifies a hierarchy of sounds associated with a paradigm of linear becoming. But, speaking (as) woman, I wished to intera ct with this surface, interrogate it, engage in proximal relations with my materials. While Irigaray's stylistic project deploys catechresis, synechdoche, double entendre, mimicry, irony, semantic slippage, and deviations in punctuation, I attempted to ela borate these practices and particularize them for the medium of music composition. Given the differences between the medium of music and literature or philosophy, and also Irigaray's concerns with how speaking comes to be, I worked with manipulating sample d speech as a gesture of aspirational engagement in my compositions. Politicization and Public Speech This process of composing is for myself in intimate and profound ways. Like Irigaray, I believe this relation of woman to herself for herself is integr al to feminine becoming. It allows women a provisional space of creation without intrusion, without the anxiety of sexual objectification or the immediate reliance of her sexuality conceived on masculine terms as a form of musical or aesthetic practice. 19 However, I recognize music insofar as it has been treated as a realm subject to masculine parameters of complexity, form, virtuosity, can place priority on formal 19 Tara Rogers in Pink Noises, wherein she conducted 24 interviews with w omen working in electronic music, discusses the deterrence of women from identifying themselves as feminist, or as women artists for fear of being alienated from the culture. I address the politics of self presentation here personally, and also in my discu ssion of Laurie Anderson. Rogers, Tara, Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound, (Duke University Press. 2010. Durham and London).
16 systems which are gendered can exclude women from its totalizing perspective. I was intereste d in paying close attention to Irigaray's mode of speaking as a way to determine and navigate compositional criteria. I incorporate public rhetoric and speaking in my musical compositions. Specifically, I work with political speech as a form of examining what is included in the political. Part of my project was to attempt to unravel the meaning of these speeches, and to get these speeches to march in ways that were non universalizing, and instead articulated something like Irigaray's theoretical gesture to extricate "the two from the one, the two from the many, the other from the same -and do so horizontally". 20 Penelope Ingram argues that signification enacts ethics which she defines as "being...revealed in difference, in my difference from the Other." 21 Spe aking is desire which escapes the body, and externalizes lived experience, while also rendering one intelligible as a recognizable political self. Speaking imbricates us as deeply embedded, implicated, and materially immersed in the polity. By extracting s trategic audio quotations, I work with political or public speech as a way of examining what is included in the political --speech as a form of indicating the absence which is constitutive of the possibility of voice (the feminine as the "ground" of subje ctivity), and that which touches on us, embodiment, and makes us intelligible to the political (speaking (as) Woman). Sampling allowed me to show up the partial and contingent nature of authority in these forms of spoken address. Here it is possible to dis place the rigidity of language by producing a language in disruptive 20 Irigaray, Luce & Noah Guynn, "The Question of the Other" Yale French Studies, No. 87, Another Look, Another Woman : Retranslations of French Feminism (1995), 12. 21
17 excess of the denotative capability of the signifier --that is, language as unable to achieve a form of unity through the membership of speech, and this being an aspirational positivity for a fiction and reality beyond politics --a feminine imaginary. Speaking is never neutral, and each rhetoric is tied to a larger symbolic order and reality. 22 As Luisa Muraro has noted, Irigaray proposes a third term --a form of mediation to alternativ ely think the universal 23 I propose music as a method of ethical inquiry. A desiring language of disruption, speaking (as) woman entails a transformation toward political becoming through being revealed in difference. Penelope Ingram (2008) in her project to reconcile the philosophical projects of Heidegger, Fanon, and Irigaray emphasizes language as a primary point of departure in their analyses of ontology and ethics. 24 Irigaray argues that ethics is impossible without a new language, since there is no fem ale subject of discourse: "the language system, or system of languages, doubled or accompanied by epistemological formalism and formal logic, takes from women and excludes them from the threshold 22 Claire Goldstein writes on Irigaray: "With her difficult style she reminds us that no rhetoric is neutral, rather, each rhetoric is fundamentally tied to a larger symbolic order which is in turn related to an imaginary and a real, which, as we know have no claims to impartiality." http :// www english upenn edu /~ jenglish / Courses / goldstein 2. html 23 "According to Irigaray, the limits of our civilization now are beginning to be ac knowledged. It is a civilization incapable of preserving life, dominated by the problems of growth and material production. It is hard to improve it, however, partly because of our rigid and arbitrary idea of the universal. She proposes an alternative way of conceiving of the universal: the form of mediation ." Luisa Muraro, "Female Genealogies," 326. For a discussion on the importance of musical performance as a form of inter gender social mediation, see Music and Women in Cross Cultural Perspective Ellen Koskoff. Her discussion of this lies in pages 9 14. 24 Ingram, Penelope, Signifying the Body: Toward an Ethics of Sexual and Racial Difference, (New York: State University of New York Press, 2008), xi.
18 of living in the word...". 25 Speaking (as) woman is "to loose the signifier from the signified, to escape the fixity of representation by an ever changing signification." 26 The mode of conveyance in my compositions is that which is not presumed to be evidential or denotative remark, but rather is a contingent of stag ed action. By restaging the spectacle of sound, a form of speaking which indicates presence, I hope to refer to that which is metonymically related to its content. What I mean by this is that there is a contiguity and continuity between sound and speech, t oneme and living beings, but that there is an interval which exists between these things, an in between opened up in between the two --that which is intimately significant, meaningful, but uncertain. To compose was to structure a non sense, by rendering t he semantics of language "sensible" by comparing semantics to sonority. If we compare meaning with sound, we may realize that there is something in between, something which does not signify. Insofar as the tone signifies presence, one must acknowledge that the language with which it signifies, does it in absentia and therefore that there is something "missing" between the interval of the thereness of music (presence) and its content (which signifies and refers, but to something which one does not know). In doing so, I hope to point out that quality of incompleteness in the attempt to signify in speaking. Without its context, speech loses its valence as sovereign. If we are no longer sovereigns, we might be able to think finally of separation within language as a fluidity rather than as a permanent exile or reality as irremediable illusion. The 25 Irigaray, Luce. Ethics of Sexual Difference Transl ated by Carolyn Burke and Gillian C. Gill. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. 1993. 107. 26 Ingram, Penelope, Signifying the Body: Toward an Ethics of Sexual and Racial Difference, (New York: State University of New York Press, 2008). xvii.
19 question of language is one of entering and exiting and inclusion/exclusion, not one of transcendence/immanence.
20 Section Three: The Compositions 1 The introducti on "Things are starting to be written, things that will constitute a feminine Imaginary, the site, that is, of identifications of an ego no longer given over to an image defined by the masculine..., but rather inventing forms for women on the march, or as I prefer to fantasize, 'in flight', so that instead of lying down, women will go forward by leaps in search of themselves." 27 All MIDI clips and samples were programmed myself. The piece did not use any samples. This piece was composed in 19 instruments, many of which are indistinguishable from other ones. The combination of multiple instruments was done to get very dense sounds to come through the mix. This piece inaugurates the becoming of Woman. I attempted to extract bird like and buzzing sounds from the software synthesizers I was using. As Rosi Bradiotti (1994) notes in her reading of Clarice Lispector's The passion according to G.H., there are five thresholds which the post emancipation female character crosses in a process of unraveling the levels of her subjectivity. The second of these thresholds marks a dissolution of the barriers between human, animal, and inorganic others. I wanted to create the sensation of embarking, flight and of collectivity --not only of a human collectivity, but a thresh old which would unravel representationalist and self knowing renditions of the subject. The primary melody line moves twice in octaves. I wanted to create the sense of this leap --"women will go forward by leaps in search of themselves" --and used the in terval of the octave in the melody line, the largest leap within the diatonic scale. 27 Cixo us, Hlne and Annette Kuhn, "Castration or Decapitation?" Signs, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Autumn 1981), 13.
21 These leaps happen at the beginning of the 4 bar melodic phrase, so that movement is situated at the very beginning of the phrase. The garbled timbre of the melody line I achieved through an effects module which rapidly samples and loops a small slice of the immediate incoming note. The melodic phrase is in "upward" movement, touching on higher notes, until the bass line as well as the rhythm line come in to support and sta bilize the melody line. I am interested in circularity in my compositions, and return in the sense of Irigaray's imagery of the two lips referring to Woman's pleasure. In this composition, there is a return to the beginning, a reminder of origins, a recap itulation and homage to the maternal. I hoped to create motion throughout the composition without reneging to a logic of sacrifice 28 a symbolic dynamic of Western politics which Irigaray critiques and desire to transform. 29 The piece ends in the same way th at it began, but having travelled through a middle "rest" section. This middle section lies at the center of two beginnings, one beginning and another re beginning. I set this section here, in order to indicate a newly productive space of mimesis. 28 See Atalli, Jacques. The Political Economy of Music translated by Brian Massumi, (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1987) for an argument on mus ic as originating in ritual murder. Atalli's argues that music is a prophetic code which makes audible what is echoed in social organization and essential in the contradictions of developed societies: "an anxiety ridden quest for lost difference, following a logic from which difference is banished."5. 29 See Anne Caldwell's "Transforming Sacrifice: Irigaray and the Politics of Sexual Difference," Hypatia Volume 17, Number 4, Fall 2002 pp. 16 39. Douglas Collins in "Ritual Sacrifice and the Political Econom y of Music"gives an account of Attali's philosophy on the composer's consummate role in the political economy of sacrifice. In terms of Irigaray's preoccupations with sacrifice, Irigaray's concerns lie in articulating a form of mediation, a new interval be tween woman and man, that would move away from a political economy based on sacrificial logic. In Irigaray's works, that which mediates this logic of violence and sacrifice is the "third term"or "intermediary". Irigaray also makes reference to music as a m ethod of productive mimesis. This is to move away from purely mimetic desire, wherein one desires an object because another human desires it (a desiring production which leads to the restitution of crisis situations which necessitate sacrifice) and to ins tead undertake mimesis as a form of mediation.
22 "The ar ticulation of two repetitions, of two different circles around the re beginning, isn't this always, and still, the way a sign is made? And is "woman" -plus femininity -anything but that residue of ideas that, once it has been doubly wrapped up, serves to capture doing as sign?" (MLN 79) This internal respite is that which connects the beginnings beginning -the point of contact for two temporally distinct and contiguous returns. The middle is what "remains" and as a temporally guarded space, allows flow a nd non captive signification. Iteration as positive mimesis indicates something different outside the phallogocentric economy of relations --that non teleological unfolding which repeats and constitutively returns to herself, without losing or winning, wi thout diminishing when crossing thresholds. 30 This is the sense of mimesis for Irigaray, which I have undertaken as iterability in composition. I will return to this thematic again in my other compositions. Irigaray notes the relevance of her physics of Wom an with scientific achievements that happened alongside her work. 31 She compares her work to a physics which no longer works on the logic of sacrifice, an aspiration towards a feminine imaginary, where exchange is no longer predicated on loss and the inabil ity to return to oneself -instead a "touching touched". I wanted to emphasize in the formal dimensions of the composition a sense of crossing thresholds without losing energy, without catharsis, and without climax. 2 The Aspiration Toward Language 30 Irigaray, Luce. and Edith Oberle, "Is the Subject of Science Sexed?" (Cultural Critique, No. 1 (Autumn, 1985), pp. 73 88). 31 See Irigaray, Luce and Edith Oberle, "Is the Subject of Science Sexed?" (Cultural Critique, No. 1 (Autumn, 1985), pp. 73 88).
23 "The y should not put it, then, in the form "What is woman?" but rather, repeating/interpreting the way in which, within discourse, the feminine finds itself defined as lack, deficiency, or as imitation and negative image of the subject, they should signify tha t with respect to this logic a disruptive excess is possible on the feminine side." (TSNO 78) This piece inaugurates, or sets up the terms of the problem of language for women, perhaps the first moment of non identical, and critical observation of Woman' s status within phallogocentric language. The samples were taken from readings that Adrienne Rich did herself of her own poems, a reading done by Cecelia Vicuna of her work, and other disparate samples found on public file sharing forums. The gong sounds a nd the hymnal samples are cut up along side one another, without developmental continuity, where abrupt shifts are made to different point in the samples, or the samples restart. This was, again, to disrupt expectations of continuity. At the very beginning of the piece, the only certain semantic content is "They do not know what a syllable is". I was interested in asking what it would mean to defamiliarize the syllable, the unit of semantic judgment, and what the repercussions might be for Woman's search fo r language. "They" from "they do not know what a syllable is" is then isolated as a musical syllable and multiplied to form the constituent notes of a chord progression. The transformation of her words, initially recognizable as part of a speech fragment w ith coherent semantic content, I form into the tonal elements of a chord to effect this passage between speech and sound, toneme and voice. I wanted to effect a passage between the meaning of something and its own non semantic content as a mode of speaking (as) Woman, a return of its own unrepresented repressed, and, as I referenced above, "to loose the signifier from
24 the signified". As Irigaray says, speaking (as) Woman cannot be spoken in meta language. 32 "The difference is perhaps hard to detect," but the voice is still capable of performing something though it has been relinquished of its previous signification. Towards the end of the song, an abrupt synthesizer element is introduced into the song. Up until this point in the song, the composition has been comprised solely of manipulated sampled material. I wanted to invert the hierarchy between music and voice here, and make it such that the sound which was obviously synthesized was instead that which intruded, rather than providing the background as is th e case in some of my other compositions. Instead of the spiritualistic aspects of the piece resulting in peace or resolution, which would have created a sense of false identification with victimhood, I chose resolutely disruptive melodic elements which mad e contemplation and aesthetic withdrawal impossible. This was again an attempt at blurring speech and sound, toneme and voice, by inverting the relationship between the two. The composition was an attempt to temporally figure a non unitary and non teleolog ical form of listening and becoming, without reneging into overtures of spiritual indifference -crucial to Irigaray's thought on feminine becoming and the affirmation of her pleasure. History is not a simple or progressive inevitability, and requires media tion. 3 Warfare a nd the Transformation of Silence 32 "When I speak here, in this context and in the position that I am occupying, the difference is perhaps hard to detect... Except for, among other things, the number of perplexities, uncertainties, and question s that reveal the lack of some preestablished system by which my language would be ordered in advance? But there is simply no way I can give you an account of "speaking as woman"; it is spoken, but not in meta language." (TSNO 144)
25 This piece works with the central notion of the transformation of silence, and the impossibility of complete translation of this emergence. I was interested in how speech which grants a state of exceptio n with declarations of war, might be related to the political testimony of a woman who was sexually harassed. The central testimony in this composition is Anita Hill's 1991 testimony against Clarence Thomas for repeated sexual harassment offenses. The spee ch element which is the first speech element to enter into the piece are samples are from Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1941 speech in provocation for United States involvement in the Second World War. In part, by staging these samples next to one another, I des ired to show up the partial knowledge claims of each speaking subject by disarticulating their meaning from specific contextual evidence, while maintaining syntactic coherence in sentences. I also wanted to effect a disparity in authority by paring down th eir delivery. By decontextualizing their remarks, I wanted to restage what the meaning of their remarks were. I wanted to disarticulate that which their various testimonies might denote, from the authority which granted the voice its capability, and in doi ng so to materialize the "interval" in between --interval is used here to indicate the in between space opened up from one's speech to the other who receives it. While Franklin D. Roosevelt's hand in inciting U.S. involvement in the Second World War, prov ed successful, Clarence Thomas was ultimately confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. It is of course the case, that woman may not be able to seek or find justice within the discursive regimes embedded in a trial system. Indeed, why she is even "there" (that is present in speech), is to give an account of violation, whereas Roosevelt simply states the obvious --"hostilities exist." From the perspective of a
26 masculine incitement to warfare, he cannot see that he states the obvious, nor that he has the capabil ity to effect what he says, because he has been granted the authority to enact it. Portions of Malcolm X's speech are included as well. "Politically immature, naturally you went along with that. But now that your eyes have opened, you can see and think for yourself." I wanted to foreground the complexities of "awakenings," a moment which is brought to attention in Irigaray's writings --that a certain kind of pleasure exists also in complicity with silence --a facility, an ease. To disinter ourselves from silence, is not as simple as the desire to speak, nor is silence simply oppressive and an inevitable remainder to the operations of power. Anita Hill admits that she believed that it would have been easier to keep silent, and also that her responsibilitie s to the Senate motivated her to testify. Even the transformation of silence into thought and action is mediated --again by language, again by the politics of risk, and by narratives of "success" and "failure", a result of the economy of specularization w hich ensures bodily presence. Malcolm X notes a direct correspondence between bodily transitions and political transition. To emerge into political consciousness is to be born with "new organs" with which to sense the world. It is also to deal with a state of warfare. The unrelenting testimonies are underwritten with a machinic rhythmic loop, and a number of instrumental elements which change very little. This immutability of the instrumental loops were also meant to highlight speech as "exception," to unde rscore the overcoming of silence as a discursive reformation and risk. For speech to lie outside of its former material reality, is akin to the clear destratification of silence
27 from speaking. This demarcation lies at the crux of confrontation within, and transformations of discursive regimes of power. The composition takes a turn toward the end of the speech and incorporates voice which has been vocoded -a different kind of rendering of silence, perhaps, in the form of a voice which was once input, but whe rein one cannot hear its "grain" --an absence of the voice, even as its approximation is appeared. 4 Political Intimacy ---Martin Luther King Ownership and property are doubtless quite foreign to the feminine. At least sexually. But not nearness. Nea rness so pronounced that it makes all discrimination of identity, and thus all forms of property, impossible. Woman derives pleasure from what is so near that she cannot have it, nor have herself. She herself enters into a ceaseless exchange of herself wit h the other without any possibility of identifying either. This puts into question all prevailing economies... (TSNO 31) Martin Luther King's voice, which is immediately recognizable renders us in a historical time period, and simultaneously incalculably distant from it. With a conservative black president who has approved racist policies under his presidency, as well as appropriated the rhetoric of Martin Luther King in his election campaign, the piece desired to touch upon the political situation now th rough a transmission into the past --a way to exhume his body, and think it through again, and to ask for change, because he said it will. But maybe I am too close now. I am listening composing performing adding, and he recedes, comes back again, to aspir e. But his speech is sterile too, overladen with all that which has been attributed to him, all that which has erased and mocked the power of his words. What happened to them?
28 Where did his words go? How do we situate someone who so radically reprised the center of motion, who rethought the very capability of motion? Who marked it as movement, a being alive again. Listening --I am tied to him, distant and yet we live together, we are living this distance. So how do I revive the repressed? I structured this composition with Irigaray's notion of the disjunctive temporality of feminine becoming in mind. There are a number of semantic elements in the song which get used and reused but there is no reified song structure. There are arpeggiated phrases and harmoni c lines which are shifting and emerging continuously. I excerpted a very specific moment in his speech: "It will be changed. Let us not wallow in the..." I chose this particular moment for cadence as well as meaning. The scission of semantic content of "wa llow in the..." was a vocal element which I felt would harness the burden of meaning without placing disproportionate significance on its capability. The phrase begins with Martin Luther King's transposed voice. A certain phrase is repeated over and over a gain, but I found that the phrase did not get less meaningful as I continued to listen to it. The cadence operates as a simultaneous shedding of the meaning of Martin Luther King's words, as well as a retention of it. The ambiguity of his words is renewed and affirmed by the cadential force of his words. There is perhaps something which transmits force without complete meaning, and without the originality of voice. This is the aspect of feminine becoming which I wanted to engender --a non original force tha t is inarticulable in meta language. Indeed to speak (as) woman is "ceaselessly to embrace words and persistently to cast them off. To touch upon but never to solidify,
29 to put into play but never to arrive at a final telos or meaning." 33 Speaking (as) woman in Irigaray is a disruptive counterpoint to linear orientations and teleological becomings, which is not to say that there is zero directionality, but no single concept of discretion which adjudicates the unitary status of an "I". Woman's pleasure require s a traversal of social practice, a mediation of the within to the without of herself --edge work. The feminine is that which emerges, but it is neither desirable nor possible to receive it on the terrain of the mechanical formulae of similarity, that whi ch crosses the threshold of signification as "likeness". As with other compositions, my concern was: can we reach the body through music? Can we embody a productive relation between two through the mediation of musical perception, by articulating the inter val between desire and language in ways which reflect a feminine imaginary? The high pitched vocals which enter into the mix are samples from his speech which have also been transposed. The bass line which began the piece enters into the piece at the end o f the composition, although I do not reintroduce Martin Luther King's voice. I wanted to give the sense of the absence of his voice, and the composition working with his constitutive absence to return to the origin of the song, where we are left with the f orce of his words but without knowing what or how they mean. 5 Micrology of Estrangement Diotima's dialectic is at least four terms: the here, the two poles of the encounter, and the beyond -but a beyond that never abolishes the here. And so on, indefin itely. The mediator is never abolished in an infallible knowledge. 33 Fuss, Diana J, ""Esse ntially Speaking": Luce Irigaray's Language of Essence." Hypatia, Vol. 3, No. 3, French Feminist Philosophy (Winter 1989), pp. 62 80.
30 Everything is always in movement, in a state of becoming. And the mediator of all this is, among other things, or exemplarily, love. Never fulfilled, always becoming. (EOSD 21) Like Irigar ay, I attempted to bring in direct quotations of other people into my works, quotations of those to whom I felt I was responding and whose words I wanted to contextualize and enliven. In this piece, I use direct quotations of a man's testimony in order to brush it up against other forms of movement, other strands of motion. In the piece including samples of Foucault's lectures on "the Care of the Self" I do the same. The functional aspect of this composition is to juxtapose the art of "how to live one's lif e" to the irony of the care of the self in the face of bodily failure and travesty -a past which one cannot affirm. Irigaray speaks of this in the Marine Lover of Nietzsche where she responds to the repetition of the eternal return as an affirmation of new values. The repetition of the two melodic and harmonic strands underlying his testimony cannot adequately manage to affirm the testimony of this man. The repetition must shift and morph, and neither can his statement maintain coherence or credibility w hen juxtaposed with other speech elements far removed from his situation. In this way, he becomes also a morphing field of intention and experience where there are seemingly multiple displacements of his testimony. But ultimately the song centers around hi m, and his testimony takes up the majority of the length of the song. His testimony is the only elongated and temporally significant narrative, and the one most laden with meaning. The other elements flirt with and attenuate his speech. The testimony was s ampled, with permission, from an organization which works to bring visibility to rape in the prison industrial complex, Just Detention
31 International 34 Bryson, a man who was raped in prison as he says 27 times, contracted HIV from one of the men who raped h im. What do we think when we listen to his testimony? What is not possible to know about his body? How does this throw our bodies into being different? Ngwarsungu Chiwengo makes the point in When Wounds and Corpses Fail to Speak that when reporting on pain, one's tone of voice must remain "composed" in order to merit believability. Would we believe him were he not "composed"? What is it possible to "express" when what we can express must be measured for its verifiability, and truth values condition its reception? What can be narrativized about the absent body? What is not transferable and receivable about this body? Does speech deepen our relationship to him? Or are we still in the same place as before, thinking in "sameness"? What could it mean to put u p my body against his? To compare them? The question of the limit of language has to do with bodies, and the operations with which the body is rendered. What are the bodies which suffer the pain of concealment, and the pain of material exclusion, the repre ssion which serves to evict their concerns and voices from phallogocentric intelligibility? We can be notified of this eviction when he speaks. The instrumental "material" picks up the task of mourning and emoting on the last beat of his testimony which th e necessities of his address withhold from him. But this music as the other which is allowed to speak, on his behalf, attempts an affirmation nonetheless, through the introduction of a rhythmic loop. There is a melodic and harmonic shift near the end of th e composition, marked by the movement of a melodic synth line from a beginning E to an F, which is a formal injunction to further 34 Just Detention International is a "health and human rights organization that seeks to end abuse in all forms of detention ." http://www.justdetention.org/
32 dispel the continuity of the piece. But this affirmation is not triumphalism nor does it signify a heroic feat. There is no re solute ending. The drum section comes in twice, two different times to create fluid and plural affirmations. The rhythmic loop is also introduced on the second beat of the measure, rather than the downbeat, to emphasize an affirmation against the grain. Wh ile a rhythm section is might refer to bodily movement or dance, the ending while active, is distributed and dissonant. I found myself when initially listening to his voice, that I had not yet "materialized" his body as connected to mine. This is the mome nt which I sought to enliven in my compositions --the moment at which composing became also a form of mediation and connection between two bodies --to process "of the world" which in being transacted, materializes the absent body. This absent body is that other body, that which Irigaray identifies in the feminine --that body which does not exist for dominant language except in a mode of deconstructive engagement, that body which is defined through the manacles of desire, and that future body which is imag ined. The absence of this body which we cannot see, we can hear. It is hard to hear him within the limits of phallogocentrism. But this body because it stands as testimony, resists co optation and understanding. To hope to no longer dissect for the purpose s of managing and regulating life, to no longer impose a paradisaical lyricism centered on one kind of body, to be attentive to the ruptures which define the outer edges of a confined political life world. Bryson's testimony is also brought into a loop. Th e testimony begins the same way it ended: "There were 27 guys." Here I wanted to emphasize the circularity of testimony and what the meaning of internment within narrative is. The moment at
33 which he repeats this statement is also the moment at which I want ed to realize the absolute restraint of body against speech --the impossibility of speech to indicate the reality of his lived body. While it might be said that this narrative as testimony has structured his very body, his testimony indicates an aspect of intrusion, a quality of "not mine". He says, "nothing was ever wrong with my life." It is this intrusion which has set a narrative circularity into internal motion, the indelible formation of bodies through experience. We might imagine that this narrative is on "re play" inside him, a loop, since he must deal with the physical repercussions of his experience, an experience which we may only understand through mediation. "What poses problems in reality turns out to be justified by a logic that has already o rdered reality as such. Nothing escapes the circularity of this law." (TSNO 88) 6 The Geography of Voice "But first she would have to speak, start speaking, stop saying that she has nothing to say! Stop learning in school that women are created to list en, to believe, to make no discoveries. Dare to speak her piece about giving, the possibility of a giving that doesn't take away, but gives. Speak of her pleasure and, God knows, she has something to say about that, so that she gets to unblock a sexuality that's just as much feminine as masculine, "de phallocentralize" the body, relieve man of his phallus, return him to an erogenous field and a libido that isn't stupidly organized around that monument, but appears shifting, diffused, taking on all the other s of oneself. Very difficult: first we have to get rid of the systems of censorship that bear down on every attempt to speak in the feminine. We have to get rid of and
34 also explain what all knowledge brings with it as its burden of power: to show in what w ays, culturally, knowledge is the accomplice of power." 35 In this composition, I was interested in closely listening to the topography of the voice. There are 21 instruments that are triggered with various loops throughout the music. The composition is hea vily layered. The vocal element is sampled from an acapella audio bank of Motown songs. I stretched a short three second section of vocals to two different time formats. Although the other instrumental elements behave in the same way, I wanted to emphasize how an shift in the cadence of the vocal element could radically shift our sense of time. This is again the aspiration towards finding new intervals, discovering time between the listener and myself. Ableton Live includes a warp feature which quantizes 36 i ncoming samples to the set bpm 37 in Ableton. The elongation of voice is tied to differential time perception. I wanted to play with vocal stretching and morphing, and attempt to understand the expansion of human voice into a categorical musical element. Alt hough the clip originally had semantically intelligible lyrics, morphed and changed it has no words. I wanted to enact a shift away from speech as merely utilitarian and emphasize the grain of the voice -a particularly dense moment in the lyric, which wou ld have been passed over very quickly within the typical lyrical tempo of song. By attenuating its borders, I wanted to create the sense of suction. The vocal elements carry the piece and mark its movement, but the vocal elements are of both a voice which has been 35 Cixous, Helene, Keith Cohen and Paula Cohen. "The Laugh of the Medusa." Signs, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Summer 1976), pp. 875 893. 36 Ableton Live has an automatic beat matching function whereby it attempts to detect the regular be at iterations in a sample and warps the incoming sample according to the quantized warp points. 37 beats per minute
35 transposed and whose sex prior to audio manipulation is ambiguous. The other voice is a woman's voice, and the two voices loosely call and respond to one another. I wanted to maximize the force of the voice without relying on the semantic content of speech --that which cannot be spoken in "meta language" but is not exactly the "ground" either, since the voice is the primary and driving "figure" of the composition. While, the voice cannot be said to have any more "content" than the other musical ele ments, there is a transmission about the voice as well, indicating the desire to speak. I draw this gesture between the desire to speak and musical mark. This piece came together relatively slowly. I began with multiple melody lines and incorporated the vo cal elements later on in the compositional process. When I work I tend to jump between multiple compositions, and this created a sort of fluidity and continuity amongst all of my pieces. This piece I intended as a unfolding or a panorama for feminine becom ing through address and injunction. As Irigaray's critics say, speaking as woman is concerned with address, to whom and from where one speaks. As I mentioned, the loop is very important in this work. It indicates temporal elisions and it a constant reminde r of what is not there. It is an invitation to immersion and to meditation, and to draw one into the minor changes in timbre, and attention to mode rather than teleological becoming. While the piece shifts significantly, it does not ask to be in a certain finished location. "That having been said, what a feminine syntax might be is not simple nor easy to state, because in that "syntax" there would no longer be either subject or object, "oneness" would no longer be privileged, there would no longer be proper meanings "proper" attributes... Instead, that syntax would involve
36 nearness, proximity, but in such an extreme form that it would preclude any distinction of identities, any establishment of ownership, thus any form of appropriation. (TSNO 134) This is what I aspired towards when working. How do we do inhabit a syntax that is non appropriative? In the middle section of the composition overlayed with female voice, the relationship between the instrumental elements and the voice is one of co existence and noncompetitive mourning, while independence in timbral quality is maintained. In this piece, I wanted to emphasize that this "beyond" or "outside" as present, not a regression or a return to the absent past. "The problem of "speaking (as) woman" is precise ly that of finding a possible continuity between that gestural expression or that speech of desire -which at present can only be identified in the form of symptoms and pathology -and a language, including a verbal language." (TSNO 137) "Beyond" is an aspir ation, but also a precondition to recognizing and respecting otherness. Voice and speaking as a form of communicating with myself that is concerned with the two. My project is not to exemplify or make an example of the feminine body. Or to return through m usic to a body rhythm which is based on conceptions of what the body is and how it responds. It other words, I am not interested in music as body, or as a representationalist thing which supplants bodies. I am interested in exploring the contiguity of body with music and in exploring a feminine specificity which is neither reducible to nor exemplified by the movements of music. Historical layering and reference to the past are important aspects of my work. Not in order to create a "timeless" (read essential ist) conception of the
37 feminine, nor of a transcendental timelessness which gains legitimacy and authority from a masculine standpoint. "Thus (ironically) the ghost of body rhythms, moreover those linked to repetitious and mesmeric dance, and possibly imme rsion and loss of self into the group, come bounding back at the very moment the environment had apparently become completely available within the modernist tradition."(68) In some ways, I think the use of speech in my work moves us away from decontextuali zed references to the body as a pure signifier, or signified. The body is something to be interrogated, to be questioned, and to be renewed along a semantically ambiguous specificity. We may revisit old bodies, but their historical specificity makes it imp ossible to view their bodies as entirely controlled. How we are presented with them is more complex. They resist directly being "symbolized" --gathered into the indexical repertoire of symbolically arranged attitudes. Something about the expansion of symb olic meaning into semantic meaning makes it such that the imprisonment of the body makes itself known but the body persists outside of it. 7 Impossible Freedom To go back inside the philosopher's house requires, too, that one be able to fulfill the role of matter -mother or sister. That is, what always begins anew to nourish speculation, what functions as the resource of reflection -the red blood of resemblance -but also as its waste, as the discard that shunts what resists transparency -madness -to the outside. (TSNO 151) This piece samples from Foucault's lectures given on "the Care of the Self" given at the University of Berkeley, California in 1983, acapella samples of Diana Ross, and
38 speeches given by Benazir Bhutto --political martyr, and Pakistan 's first female prime minister. Foucault discusses the shifts in classical notions of how the self came to be constituted as an object of care, and the modes of engagement which the self was subject to as a cultivation of a certain ideal image of man. The piece begins with excerpted passages from his lectures, which become increasingly removed from its mooring of pedantic certainty as the music intervenes dynamically. Foucault's speech is accompanied by the thematic of eighth note arpeggios which signify or der and regularity. As the eighth note arpeggios, become sixteenth note arpeggios, the unit of speech for Foucault's speech gets smaller --going from a sentence, to a collection of disparate words, to a repetition of single words. I tried to make constitut ive the differential elements of Foucault's vocal register by changing the pitch value of his speech. I transposed the pitch of the samples to five different pitch intervals, and then added the differentiated pitch elements together to produce a "single" s poken voice. I then moved to a different phase of working with excerpting just words instead of extended phrases of his speech, those in particular which dealt with conceptions of the self. I wanted to set into motion with this particular speech, the apori a of "choice" given to woman, which is to choose her freedom, or to choose immanence --to choose technologies of relation or to choose her pleasure. Irigaray's Woman must in fact be both, do both, for her own becoming. Becoming woman means to become the mo lar capacities which grant her a place from which to affirm her horizon of becoming, that which is not hers but yet will be the condition of possibility for an analysis which will be necessary to her aspirations toward a feminine imaginary. It is to recogn ize the practice of syncretism as a maintaining of critical distinctions in the
39 face of their convergence in cultural and philosophical registers of meaning. Part of this ambiguity is also born of the relation between Foucault and Irigaray's project, whic h I will not delve into here, but has been written about in other places. 38 38 For a discussion on the potential compatibilities of Foucault and Irigaray see Shannon Winnibust, "Exceeding Hegel and Lacan: Different Fi elds of Pleasure within Foucault and Irigaray," Hypatia, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Winter, 1999), pp. 13 37, and also Bradiotti, Rosi, "The ethics of sexual difference: The case of Foucault and Irigaray" Australian Feminist Studies, Vo l. 1, Issue 3, (1986).
40 Conclusion My concerns lied in composing music as a mode of mediated engagement, as an ethical and political aspiration to hear the difference. I attempted to live the principl es of engagement via a mimetic production of embodied speech, and therein speak woman, speak (as) woman, in order to interrogate and examine my own perspective with regards to my work. As Atalli states, "Music is more than an object of study: it is a way o f perceiving the world." 39 The difficulty lied in resisting preemptive formulations of my work, or the comfort of templates which "planned" the musical outcomes and bypassed the processual nature of listening composing. I believe this kind of processual und erstanding of music is extremely important in emphasizing, or demonstrating how subjective responses and thoughts come into play while composing, and perhaps in a broader sense, come into play in the composition of otherness. My work was born out of a pers onal motive for change and a visions of utopia which coincided with Irigaray's. What does it mean to attempt to address the interval --the interval between you and I ? This was the relation which I focused on in my work. "To theorize the political, to pol iticize the theoretical, are such vast aggregative asymmetrical undertakings; the hardest lesson is the impossible intimacy of the ethical." 40 39 Atalli, Jacques, The Political Economy of Music translated by Brian Massumi, (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 10. 40 Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, "French Feminism Revisited: E thics and Politics" in Feminists Theorize the Political ed. by Judith Butler and Joan W. Scott. (New York and London: Routledge, 1992), 81.
41 This interval requires that certain irreconcilable differences be reexamined under the lens of technicity, so that we might recognize how certain silences are rendered, in order to append an analysis which may acknowledge difference as politically and socially situated reality --as Irigaray notes in Democracy Begins Between Two we first need two if we are to be one To read the body is to recognize the body as itself the contiguity and appendage of workings of power, formatted though not totalized. Irigaray's shift in focus is to sexuate beings, beings which understand themselves as contiguous with the horizon of sex ual difference. An ethics within this horizon must acknowledge positionality, partial truths, and directionalities of these truths. It is perhaps not as if art which is made by women must be political --the stakes lie in "making a difference" --making matt er matter in different ways, shifting the interval between two.
42 Appendix 1
43 Works Cited Atalli, Jacques, The Political Economy of Music translated by Brian Massumi, (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1987). 10. Bradiotti, Rosi, "Of Bu gs and Women" in E ngaging with Irigaray ed. Carolyn Burke, Naomi Schor, Margaret Whitford, (New York: Columbia Universtiy Press, 1994) 125. ---." The ethics of sexual difference: The case of Foucault and Irigaray." Australian Feminist Studies, Vo l. 1, Issue 3, (1986). Fuss, Diana J. ""Essentially Speaking": Luce Irigaray's Language of Essence." Hypatia, Vol. 3, No. 3, French Feminist Philosophy (Winter 1989), pp. 62 80. Ingram, Penelope. Signifying the Body: Toward an Ethics of Sexual and Racial Difference. New York: State University of New York Press, 2008. Irigaray, Luce. Democracy Begins Between Two New York, NY: Routledge, 2001. ---. Ethics of Sexual Difference Translated by Caro lyn Burke and Gillian C. Gill. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. 1993. ---. Speculum of the Other Woman Translated by Gillian C. Gill. Cornell University Press, Ithaca New York. 1985. ---. This Sex Which Is Not One Translated by Catherine Po rter with Carolyn Burke. Cornell University Press. Ithaca, New York. 1985. ---. and Edith Oberle, "Is the Subject of Science Sexed?" (Cultural Critique, No. 1 (Autumn, 1985), pp. 73 88). ---. & Noah Guynn. "The Question of the Other." Yale French Studies No. 87, Another Look, Another Woman: Retranslations of French Feminism (1995), pp. 7 19. Rogers, Tara. Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound Duke University Press. 2010. Durham and London. Schor, Naomi, "This Essentialism Which is Not One: Coming to Grips with Irigaray." in Engaging with Irigaray ed. by Carolyn Burke, Naomi Schor, and Margaret Whitford. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. 67. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, "French Feminism Revisited: Ethics and Poli tics" in Feminists Theorize the Political ed. by Judith Butler and Joan W. Scott. (New York and London: Routledge, 1992) 81.
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