Centers; Dissenters (Music, Religion, and Politics)

Rahn, John

To explore the question "How can someone create art now?," the essay first sketches a broad historical framework, and continues by peering through a lens made of two concepts: the center, and dissent. It explores the Greek influence (Plato the centrist, Socrates the dissenter; dissent as
apartness, the center as control molded by dissent) and Christianity (dissent in Job, the Fall, and St. Francis). Whereas the dissent of Socrates was the mold filled by Plato's Center, in Christianity the omnipotent, omnipresent God is the mold, Sin and the Fall its negative, dissent molded by
the Center: a double obverse. The essay talks about contemporary music and violence: the beat and
the originary scene (Boulez), other strategies (Xenakis, Cage); commodification; rock promoting the ecstasy of identity and submission; Disneyfication. It explores feminism on violence; critical theory on the subject; the Deleuzian Body Without Organs and Kristeva's chora; and Judith Butler on subjectless agency, signification as a regulated process of repetition. Finally, the essay touches on the relations among dissent, autonomy, agency; superfaciality; insignification; theory as praxis as art as life; and intimate apartness built into the Sichselbstgleichheit of the work of art.



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Current Musicology

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Columbia University
Published Here
January 26, 2015