Monday, November 6, 2023

34th Series of Primary Order and Secondary Organization

This series begins by looking at the development of the phantasm as a pendular motion swinging between the two extremes of the metaphysical surface and the partial objects and drives in the depths. The greatest danger is the collapse of the surface into the depths. The greatest potential lies in the constitution of a metaphysical surface of great range on which even the objects of the depths are projected.

Deleuze calls this pendular motion the forced movement of the phantasm; this forced movement increases its amplitude. The full amplitude brings about the metaphysical surface which he also calls Thanatos or the Death Instinct. Deleuze defines the Death Instinct differently than Freud – not as a wish for death but a wish to go beyond death. He envisions a struggle between Thanatos, or the metaphysical surface and the destructive drives of the depths. If the metaphysical surface wins out then an infinitive verb or an Eternal Truth gets inscribed on this surface. What Lewis Carroll calls "Impenetrability" and "Radiancy" gets actualized. Impenetrability comes from the 6th chapter in Through the Looking Glass, and is uttered by Humpty Dumpty. Examples of Radiancy can be found in Carroll's poems: Phantasmagoria
Beatrice In the infinitive verb inscribed upon the metaphysical surface, the secondary organization is brought about and from this organization, the entire ordering of language. This allows the event as that which can be expressed. The sexual organization is a prefiguration of the organization of language just as the physical surface was a preparation for the metaphysical surface. Perversion is an art of the surface as opposed to subversion as a technique of the depths. Most sexual crimes are subversion not perversion. The real problem of perversion (radical change) is shown correctly in the essential mechanism which corresponds to it, that of Verleugnung (denial). Verleugnung is not an hallucination, but rather an esoteric knowledge. Primary order goes from the beginning sounds and noises in the depths then to the voice on high followed by speech then language. Words are directly actions and passions of the body. They are demonic possession or divine privation. In relation to the voice, words can reach an excessive equivocation. (Perhaps the best example gets found in Joyce's Finnegans Wake.) An equivocation which ends equivocity and makes language ripe for something else. This something else is that which comes from the other, desexualized and metaphysical surface – the revelation of the univocal, the advent of Univocity – that is, the Event which communicates the univocity of being to language. Humor constructs all univocity. The dynamic genesis doesn't end. There is the problem of the work of art yet to come. A construction of Music für ein Haus.
See Karlheinz Stockhausen's 1968 group composition project: Music für ein Haus.

Monday, September 25, 2023

33rd Series of Alice's Adventures

 In this Series Deleuze plugs Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass into the three orientations of the dynamic genesis: the depths, the heights, and the surface. He mentions the circular mushroom that causes Alice to grow or to shrink depending upon which side she eats from. This circles the reader back to the very beginning of The Logic of Sense as that's how the book starts.

In a footnote, Deleuze mentions two poems by Carroll that illustrate the good voice on high. They are: The Two Brothers and The Three Voices He also mentions Sylvie and Bruno which he again calls a masterpiece as he did earlier in the book. It gives another example of the good voice on high withdrawn but also the two surfaces, the surface between bodies and ideas (ordinary reality in Sylvie and Bruno), and the metaphysical surface (the fairy/magic reality). The first book is here. Sylvie and Bruno Concluded is here. About two thirds of the way through this Series there's an inflexion point where Deleuze stops talking about Alice and Lewis Carroll and begins to look at great authors as Doctors or Diagnosticians of Civilization. He'll talk about this in relation to the pure event and the metaphysical surface. The Series ends with obscure quotes from another Lewis Carroll story: A Photographer's Day Out. I don't find it in print on the internet but here's a video of the story being read.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Let This Be Enough by Catherine Scholz

There is no right way or wrong way to record music. Sometimes it's done very fast to capture spontaneity and freshness. Bob Dylan is known to prefer this method. Other times, it can be labored over longer. Both approaches went into the creation of the new single by Catherine Scholz. Much of the track - drums, percussion, rhythm guitar, violin and lead vocal was recorded in half a day at Ancient Wave in Nevada City. There was also some minimal drum editing. That's lightening speed for me  when you consider that it usually takes a minimum of two hours to set up drums, mics and rout them into the desk. 

We started with Catherine playing a rhythm track on one of the studios beautiful Martin acoustic guitars. She played to a click track, a metronome, to assure consistency with the timing. However, most serendipitously, she made a mistake in the form by including an extra verse section. Following Brian Eno's oblique strategy to "honor thy mistake as a hidden intention," we kept it for use as an instrumental section for solos. Then I had Catherine double her guitar part; she made the great suggestion to play it on a different acoustic guitar, her own. Next was her vocal. She did a warm up pass while I got her level. Then she did a take all the way through. By then, Mark McCartney had arrived to set up his drums. I expected to come back later to work on Catherine's lead vocal, but we never did. That first take was all that was needed.

We got the drums up and sounds on them lickety-split. Mark is a pro, and pretty instantly locked into the groove. It had already been decided in a pre-production meeting that he would play the drums with brushes. We did three drum takes. For the final one, Catherine requested more of what's known as a "stirring the soup" sound like you might hear in older jazz recordings where the brushes swirl around the surface of the snare drum and play accents on the 2 and 4 of the measure. In one of the initial passes, I liked the way Mark was keeping time with his hi hat on the "1 and" + "3 and" of the beat and asked for more of that. That third take was the one we went with. Mark came in for a playback, heard a few things slightly off which we fixed on the spot through editing. He heard a tambourine part, overdubbing it in one pass. Catherine had the thought for him to play some cymbal swells at transition areas, from the first verse into the chorus, from the chorus to the solo section, etc. I asked Mark if he had mallets for that, but he was way ahead of me and already had them out, ready to go.

Following the drums, we had just enough time to record some violin parts by the very talented Mei Lin Heirendt. Based on the lyrics, I asked her to consider a melancholy mood with a glimmer of hope in there as she played. We recorded a couple of passes all the way through with Mei Lin playing fills in response to Catherine's words along with a solo. After those two passes, we worked on just the solo and got a beautiful one. John Taber, a professional and extremely excellent photographer (among other things) got some great shots of this musical invocation. Hats off to my assistant, Jaya Betts, who made the seamless, technological flow possible.

Catherine Scholz 

More of John Taber's shots can be seen in the Production Credits on Catherine's site.

The rest of the instruments were recorded remotely at the various musician's local studios. Catherine added some background vocals at her place. Bassist Jared May sent in his part from his home in L.A. Tommy Coster was enlisted to play piano. He graciously included some other ideas he had: a wurlitzer piano part and some ambient synthesizer swells for transitions. Pete Grant sent multiple takes of lap guitar, pedal steel guitar and dobro – all gorgeous fills, textures and solos. I had an embarrassment of riches to flesh out the arrangement.

Catherine's fiancé, John, had the suggestion to turn the song into a duet. We both thought it could significantly contribute to the song. She asked her friend, Francisco Aviles to contribute a verse and a chorus. Francisco sang the second verse modifying the lyrics slightly to suit his vocal delivery, then they both sang the last chorus. Francisco sent me one take which I plugged into mix and sent to Catherine. She asked if there were any alternate choices, so I had him send all his takes which included nine more. I spent a few hours listening and compiling the best parts. It was a good call; his earlier takes had a softer, more velvety quality that suited the song well. Catherine heard the new, composite take and requested one line be swapped back to the first take which worked very well. 

For the solo, I originally went with Mei Lin's violin for the whole thing. John also had the idea to have the solo switch to the lap steel halfway through, then have the violin come back to join it at the end. It was another great idea as it musically anticipated a second voice, Francisco's, entering the song with both voices together on the last chorus.

Emotionally, as I interpret it, it seems to concern a reckoning of a relationship which both parties want to confront directly as per the lyrics that begin each verse: "Say it to my face ...". They both agree that their union will be enough to carry them through anything. I find it very moving.

A review at Melo Groove puts it more eloquently:

Celebrated singer-songwriter Catherine Scholz is set to make a profound impact on the hearts and minds of listeners with the release of her latest single, “Let This Be Enough.” This soul-stirring song transcends boundaries and speaks to the deeply human experiences of unrequited love, longing for reciprocation, and the struggle for self-acceptance.

The full review is here.

You can listen or download  Let This Be Enough on any of these platforms.


Monday, August 28, 2023

32nd Series on the Different Kinds of Series

The 32nd Series returns to earlier concepts in The Logic of Sense but this time in the context of Freudian psychology and analysis. The serial form begins with the release of the sexual drives. It talks about three different kinds of series and the type of synthesis they provide; the connective, conjunctive and dynamic syntheses. It recapitulates the dynamic genesis of the developing child learning language starting from the chaotic noises in the depths, then hearing their parents use language (the voice on high) and finally beginning to use speech at the surface. This still isn't language until the Event or sense occurs.

Working from Psychanalyzer by Serge Leclaire, Deleuze connects the basic elements of language, phonemes, morphemes and semantemes, with the three sexual positions: erogenous zones (connective synthesis), the phallic coordination of the surface (conjunctive synthesis) and the Oedipal affairs or castration complex (disjunctive synthesis).
The paradoxical nature of the phallic image both coordinating the surface and contributing to the dissipation of the castration complex is compared to the paradoxical "Object = X" that circulates between the two series of the signifier and the signified. It is both an excess and a lack and is always in a state of disequilibration. Not said in the video: The disjunctive synthesis proves to be "the destination and truth of the others."

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Picture Frame by Cassidy Joy

 A strong invocation brings its own resistance. I tell my clients that unusual obstacles or adversity in the recording process often indicate the music coming through carries a strong force. Giving birth in any realm presents its own challenges. This appears clearly evident with the capturing of Cassidy Joy's new single Picture Frame

The first recording date was postponed due to a slight cold – nothing too uncommon there. On the morning of the new date, a power outage shut down all electricity to the studio. Our irresponsible provider, PG&E, said it would be back on by 11:30 am; no problem there, the session was scheduled for noon. Indeed, power was restored shortly after 11. Cassidy arrived and got settled. She did a little warm up run through of the song as I set my levels. We checked the tuning on her acoustic guitar – looking good, we were all set to go. At that exact moment, the power goes out again. Unbelievable! I got my emergency generator going and we finally began. This is less than ideal as my generator and all the other generators in the neighborhood increases the ambient noise hum in the space, but I thought I could deal with it.  Halfway way into her performance the power came back on, but near the end of the song my audio software abruptly stopped. That had never happened before – likely due to the less than steady electricity provided by my generator. Cassidy felt good about the take, but I had to sheepishly tell her about the drop out and ask her to play it again. 

We did another run through; it was a significantly stronger delivery, the best.  The obstacles had pushed her to another level. It felt like the one. During the playback to confirm, we heard the yowling of a cat. Was it in the recording? Would this great performance be compromised? Fortunately not, the cat's contribution only occurred during playback not the recording itself. We added another rhythm guitar part, did some minor editing and had a track. After much more than usual resistance, a new piece of beauty had come down from wherever it comes from for all the world to hear. Perseverance paid off.

As I interpret the song, it tells a story of someone looking at a photo and reading the biography of what they see there:

Pretty lady in a picture frame
Silk white dress
Wreaths the baby's breath

Pretty mama of a high born name
Keeps a treasure chest
Never leaves a mess

There's a subtle sense of tragedy, a mood of melancholy in this song.

And if I didn't know better
I'd say you had it all together
And if I couldn't see through you
I'd almost swear that I knew you
From the face that you were wearing in a picture frame.

One belief in philosophy holds that the artistic expression of tragedy is just as necessary as comedy in the balanced development of society. Perhaps when feeling some pain in a work of art, it helps us deal with any pain we'll inevitably experience in life itself?

Pretty mama sitting all alone
Underneath the roses, hoping someone would notice
She built her castle from her father's stone
And though she'd never know it
Inside the tears are flowing.

It goes on to tell the tale of this woman's family and the hardness of their lives. These words don't and can't tell the complete story. You have to listen to the emotion of Cassidy's vocal delivery together with the key and chord changes in the song. My advice is to listen many times. I naturally do in the production of it. The repetition of the playback, always hearing something different each time, searching for the technical parameters that will give the best expression, made me feel like I was in a picture frame. Listening to it now without any technical considerations, makes me want to find a way to heal all the pain in the world. To quote John Lennon: "You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." Perhaps if enough people hear Picture Frame enough times, the empathy in world will increase by one slight degree. Maybe that will help get us through the night?

Ain't love a funny thing?

You can download Picture Frame here. It will be available to listen on Spotify and Apple music soon.

Monday, July 24, 2023

31st Series of Thought

This Series looks at the process of the phantasm engendering thought. A narcissistic wound or trace of castration causes desexualized/neutral energy to create a metaphysical/cerebral surface resulting in thought. This metaphysical surface of thought is invested by the sexual surface of the body (sublimation) and by the objects of the depths and the heights (symbolization).

Deleuze uses a metaphor of a romantic couple to conceptualize sexual sublimation. The phantasm's formula: from the sexual pair to thought via castration. It may prove useful to approach this Series like a Zen koan. The phantasm originates in the void. He last wrote about the void in the "19th Series of Humor" in connection with Zen. I suggest giving it a review (p. 137 in the 1990 edition; p. 141 in the Bloomsbury newer edition). There seems a great deal of movement, cycling back and forth and feedback loops implied as thought metamorphosizes and reinvests in itself through sublimations and symbolizations. The phantasm always goes back to an originary phantasm and carries it along to wherever it's going. It constantly changes. Due to all this looping, Deleuze says the phantasm is the site of the eternal return. The writing returns to earlier concepts like the void. Again, by connecting the trace of castration with the crack of thought from the "22nd Series: Porcelain and Volcano" mentioning the writers Lowry and Fitzgerald from that Series. He references the "21st Series of the Event" when talking about death toward the end. There is an inflexion point in this Series when Deleuze changes from talking about the little thoughts of the internal dialog to more creative, problem-solving thoughts. This point is where he mentions the "phantasm's path of glory." It does it with "the incorporeal splendor of the event as that entity which addresses itself to thought, and which alone may invest it – extra-Being." I.e. sense. Splendor, in the hermetic sense, can be researched in my blog: The Hermetic Transmission of Francois Rabelais.

Friday, July 14, 2023

30th Series of the Phantasm

 Deleuze first presents his interpretation of the concept of the phantasm and its relation to sense in this Series. He comes from a Freudian point of view saying that psychoanalysis is the science of the event. He goes into three characteristics of the phantasm in this series and continues the discussion of it in the next Series.

1. The phantasm is the resultant of an action (outer) and a passion (inner) and represents a pure event. 2. The relationship of the ego to the phantasm 3. The phantasm finds expression in the proposition. It inheres in the infinitive form of the verb. The Aion is the neutral infinitive for the pure event. Objects in the depths he calls simulacra; objects in the heights = idols; objects at the surface = images. Freud's book "Totem and Taboo" is the great theory of the event. You can read it here.