Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sonorous Individuations

At Lars’s prompting I’m posting an unedited version of the Newcastle Keynote paper for any who might be interested. A teaser:
It is easy to think of society as a thing, substance, or entity. We often talk of what “society does”, what it thinks, and how it behaves. We talk about the properties or qualities of the social as if it were a substance possessing attributes. We treat the social as a substantial being, like the identity underlying all the qualitative transformations of Descartes’ famous wax in the Second Meditation. We might, after the fashion of some tendencies in Levi-Strauss, for instance, speak of self-identical structures of mind persisting throughout time. However, if we consider the newborn infant or the feral child, and if we consider the disappearance of societies, their dissolution in history, we see that the social is not something that can be thought as a substance, but is rather something that must be constituted, produced, engendered. And not only must the social be produced or engendered, it must be produced or engendered again and again in the order of time as a series of ongoing actions, operations, or events. The social, in short, is a process.
You can find the rest of it here: territories-of-music1.doc. The key concept in everything I’m working on is that of individuation and how individuation requires us to recast a number of philosophical questions. As such, this paper might productively be read in relation to this old blog post. by larvalsubjects
For instance, we might think of the aleatory association of people in the blogosphere, where unrelated people all over the globe encounter one another, begin to engage one another’s work (often surrounding figures from entirely different traditions), such that certain themes, norms, and questions begin to emerge that would not have otherwise been present in an ordinary academic environment.
Between these different levels we can think the relations of feedback, where social systems are forced to respond to aggregates that form at the level of content or where aggregates of persons are forced to respond to effects of social systems. Again, we might think of how the academy responds to the productions of the blogosphere as they begin to filter into conferences, classrooms, academic journals, etc., and how the blogosphere deals with the molar form-producing machines of themes that dominate departments and journals, placing constraints on publications and lines of inquiry that must be navigated like so many selective pressures. We can think of what occurs when an element individuated within one system is placed in a new context or territory-- a Lacanian, for example, suddenly forced to express his claims to Frankfurt theorist --and what emerges as a result. Territories of Music: Distributions, Productions, and Sonorous Individuations 8 December 2007 by Larval Subjects territories-of-music1.doc

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