I'm sorry but this really will not do. This bunch of pseudy, pompous arseholes are being feted when really they're foetid - the stale stench of 70s art-philosophising exhumed for ego purposes. They are wheeled out whenever anybody wants dance to look intellectual and Serious, but nobody ever seems to ask what the hell they're actually going on about. The music press love this surface-gimmick of intellectual posing and these germanic divs regularly get coverage for their distinctly ropey ideas simply because of the novelty of their theorising. In fact they're so full of shit It's hard to work out where to start attacking them, but here goes anyway. . .
They're part of Force Inc, who are a huge label, who therefore function as a choice-reducer, as their records crop up everywhere. In common with a lot of the post-postmodern quasi-anarchist intellectual pseuds cluttering up the dance scene, they seem blind to their own involvement with the mass manufacture of sound while at the same time expressing at great length their contempt for such manufacture. For example, if you look at the small print on a lot of Force Inc records you'll see that most of the music on them is published by that well-known underground collective, Warner Chappell. In fact when Warner (yes that one, the Brothers one) bought out Chappell music back in the UK back in the late 80s there were grumblings about referring them to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission as Warner have fingers in so many leisure industry pies. Meanwhile, Force Inc give money to people like Achim Szepanski and Alec Empire to bellyache about how crap rivals Harthouse and Superstition are. Funny that.
The hypocrisy is compounded by the frequent references to Deleuze. Use of language is important. For ideas to spread they must be framed in an accessible fashion. This is nothing to do with the internet - it's a question of comprehensibility. Followers of tedious drivellers such as Deleuze and Guattarri never actually bother to put their ideas across in a communicative way, probably because it's not possible. Whereas Einstein brought us the atomic bomb with E = mcı, 70s-style French wafflers couldn't remotely try and just get to the point in a way that might inspire others to put their own take on their ideas. The sheer complexity of their thought results in deeply unattractive formulations of byzantine complexity that resist simplification. And this is important because we're not dealing with science here, we're dealing with something that is (even) more strongly sociologically orientated. Intellectuals have (or ought to have) an obligation to communicate, or else they automatically become a closed system, creating ideas solely for each other. This isn't science we're dealing with here, although this lot are obviously wannabe scientists. This is trying to find ways to help society. Without "simplification" (the wrong word, actually) the memes are only ever carried by a cultural elite. In fact the word "simplification" here refers to something more akin to distillation. To remove subversive ideas from lite control they must be made more comprehensible to a wider range of people, people who may well not be interested in grinding their way through sadistically dull, neurotically overwrought philosophical windbaggery. To empower, ideas must inspire people to come up with their own interpretations. Deleuze, Guattarri et al disempower due to the sheer obscurity of their thought. This isn't a call to write with limited vocabulary or to tone down subtle ideas, either. The trick is to still have the exciting ideas, but in a way which is at once inspiring and at least reasonably communicable. That communicability is identical with freedom. It's disgusting to watch divisive litists move into a populist type of culture such as dance and try to make it look cool to be impenetrably wordy. Just what is the motivation of these people? Communication depends not on watering down but on similarity between different types of intelligence. If intelligence is too different, if the cultural milieu requires too much explanation in order to translate properly, then communication gets progressively more difficult. One way round this is by "showing".
Just as dance started with an appreciation of "less is more", so must the thinking associated with it start with an appreciation of the spaces between thoughts, the silences, what is not said, what is passed over in silence . . .
And perhaps Wittgenstein could be helpful here. His ideas were rather arcane, yet they also communicated a "feeling", a very different feeling to that of the French Boredom Masters. The central anti-bullshit idea he created was to look for the USE of language and not its supposed meaning. Meaning tends to evaporate once you start analysing in search of it. Too bad deconstructionists couldn't loosen up a bit while following this up. The USE of language (that part that communicates anything anyway) by Mille Plateaux is "We are a subset of a large label [this is unstated, but the silence here speaks volumes]. You must not listen to trance as it is evil, as is most jungle, as are most types of music apart from certain types we have deemed socially and intellectually acceptable, and this sort of acceptability is what will redeem society".
Wittgenstein had something that Guattarri and Deleuze just didn't have - this ability to get ideas to communicate (or even translate) outside the need to swamp yourself in verbiage. He was quotable, for example (you've already read one of his phrases so far...)
If we're dealing with empowerment, then ideas must be stated clearly. It's authoritarian at the very least to expect everybody to do their own course in philosophy before being admitted to the fold. Deleuze's wiffling does not make it across the bridge into the highly-charged, suggestive but clean-cut language necessary to switch other people on to subversive philosophy. The net result is that those who could indeed do with a dose of real thinking take the "coolness" route, which is merely the manipulation of surface- grammar in order to avoid all the boring book-reading. It's just displays of portentousness without substance. Still at least this sort of sour-faced seriosity without depth is kind of postmodern.
"Clarity" however, needs some clarification. We don't mean quite that everything should be stated with surgical precision. The music, with all its sociological context, comes first and any discussions involving verbal intellect have in a sense to follow it. Here we can make a comparison to empirical science - you have to observe very closely before formulating any theories. Referring to a couple of obfuscatory French intellectuals first, and trying to fit music into their intellectual framework, is a preposterous waste of time, putting legs on a snake as a Chinese saying has it. Music is a process of life and, like the rest of life, you have to be careful when trying to impose verbal thought structures onto it. The menu is not the meal, etc. This means that the language, for all its clarity, will still be suggestive, poetic, in some way incomplete when viewed from a strictly analytical perspective.
As we have said elsewhere, all theory is practice. Whatever you do is a (concept of) activity first and foremost. But we're all bewitched by language. One result of this is that when you read something it's easy to feel that you're somehow actually actively doing something other than sitting in an armchair reading a book. But "activity" lies elsewhere. The Mille Plateaux worldview makes preposterous claims for what is really the activity of running a record label, i.e. putting out product for people to listen to at home, just like they would to the latest AOR album on Epic records.
This lot's anti-trance and anti-jungle attitude is interestingly moronic also. People really like discovering a new type of music that they didn't know they liked before. It's a simple but highly significant process for the person concerned, and great store is set by such discovery - it can be life-changing. However, in order for this to even be a possibility, you must remain open, insecure, reluctant to reach for a label. It's not a matter of being indiscriminating, but quite the opposite. Your eyesight is enhanced by practising it and relaxing in order to bring things into focus properly. It takes things in, that's what it's there for, and it's a similar situation with your mind. You may well find there are certain genres you like more than others, but something that overwhelms your mind, leaves you shattered with sheer pleasure, and opens new avenues could occur (almost) anywhere. Rubbishing trance and jungle as if they are all utterly corrupt through and through is an expression of rigidified, closed thinking, not the openness they'd like to think.
It has to be said, too, that there is a certain authoritarian element here, as there usually is in the anti-trance brigade. You do not tell people that they can't like a style of music because it has incorrect sociological implications, or displeasing aesthetic associations. Of course Mille Plateaux and the Alien Underground/Dead By Dawn cretins do, and thus expose themselves as the mentally impoverished bigots they really are. Everybody has their own likes and dislikes (and we really dislike arrogant pseudo- anarchist intellectuals acting like sonic Police), but no fucker has any right to tell other people that they somehow shouldn't be into a genre of music. Luckily, they don't really have the ability to either. Unlike the situation with regard to philosophy and politics, people have a lot more access to their own means in music, and the hectoring voices of the Preachers are drowned out by the sound of people doing just what they want. The Preachers can still do damage by printing hate literature like Alien Underground, but the gawky unattractiveness of the writing, the smugness, and the sheer ugliness of the arrogance ensure that not too many, save perhaps the gullible and those who like to follow "scenes", actually get their heads turned. Anyway to complain about the "kitsch" melodic element of trance when you lick the bum of postmodernism is bizarre.
French 70s philosophers were like 70s prog rock. Endlessly discursive, absurdly prolix, in love with fiddling ornamentation for the sake of it, twee, fidgety, arcane on the surface but mundane on the inside, careless over communication, anal but eerily asexual, and above all hyper-dull. One was left with a strong puzzlement over what this neurotic diddling was actually meant for. Quite what anybody hopes to achieve by trying to graft on such boringism to something as dynamic as dance is beyond us. Let us by all means have sonic experimentation, but let it be based around an experiential appreciation of music, not a quasi-linguistic intellectual filter.
Ultimately these people are sad - they check what they hear against a list of concepts before admitting to themselves whether it's permissible to like it or not.
These elitists also seek the return of the distinction between high and low art, this time phrased perhaps more in terms of `proper' and `improper' creativity.
The Out of Order Order