“Παίζουμε ένα ποίημα;”/12: Γιάννης Δούκας: “τετελεσμένοι μέλλοντες” (η ρήξη)

“Το ζήτημα της ποιητικής διαδοχής απασχολεί ιδιαίτερα την ποιητική γενιά του 2000,   και επειδή δεν ενδιαφέρθηκε να διαδεχθεί μιά προηγούμενη γενιά και επειδή ήρθε           εξ αρχής σε ρήξη με την αριστερά που αργότερα οδήγησε στην κυβέρνηση Συριζανέλ.”     Εδώ συζητώ γιατί επιζήτησε ρήξη κι όχι παγώνια.

20 Οκτωβρίου 2019

Posted in Greek Poetry, Literature | Tagged ,

What makes us comrades?

In my blog I have been positing four kinds of the modern radical and four corresponding sites/stages:                                                                                                                                           The rebel/friend       practices fraternity in the court.                                                                  The revolutionary    practices liberty       in the barricade.                                                        The comrade             practices equality    in the party.                                                                  The citizen                 practices solidarity in the assembly.

In her current work (which includes a book, essays, lectures, and interviews) political theorist Jodi Dean differentiates the comrade from the neighbor, the citizen, the ally, and the friend to summarize the demands of party membership.

According to her definition, the comrade is the figure of a political relation, specifically, political belonging:  The term signifies being on the same side of political struggle,               in other words, having the same enemy, as Carl Schmitt would stress.                                 The comrade is a disciplined and disciplining relation that requires self-denial. Comradeship is inhuman and generic; in it, personal identity vanishes,                                     resulting in machinic impersonality and instrumentalist interchangeability.    Comradeship highlights the sameness of collective subjectivity                                          based on the stripping of all particularity.  (Equality and solidarity follow from it.) Comrades are the equalized, same, and faithful party members                                            who stand together & act collectively in disciplined organization against their enemy, seeking to overthrow capitalism & acquire political power through revolution.      Comrades use each other since relations among them are means toward the victory of the revolutionary party, not ends in themselves.                                                                   Comrades demonstrate fidelity to the truth of the radical event;                                          their political work involves infinite verification of this truth.                                       Fittingly, Dean illustrates her communist view of the comrade by invoking Brecht’s “learning play” The Measures Taken and justifying the brutal murder of the Young Comrade by the Four Agitator in the name of the party line and discipline.

In sharp contrast, I have been interested in Leftists who belong to each other, rather than a party, specifically, in dissenting Greek comrades since the 1940s, and the central role of civic friendship in their political belonging.  Below I quote selectively from previous posts.                                                                                                                                                     The history of the Greek Left is the history of intense friendships among radicals. Greeks don’t just join the Left because of articles they read, movies they saw, poverty they suffered, or oppression they witnessed but primarily because they need to share such experiences with great friends. They are radicalized not by exploitation but by camaraderie. They seek conviviality more than conviction.  Σύν-τροφοι/comrades are the companions who (etymologically) have been raised together and who (socially) share their lives raising one another to solidarity.  By promising “each other to a shared future,” radical friends may become comrades who join forces in local commons and in transnational networks of collaborative civic friendship.

A group of radical Greek leftists does not constitute a cell or a fraction, a circle or a club. It exists as a συν-τροφιά, a demarcated yet porous companionship of people who are equal and similar. Their defining feature is a mutually reinforced virtuous political sensibility. They consider civic virtue an ethical disposition that is in itself a political position. Exercising this attitude collectively, consistently, and in public is the highest form of integrity. To join any formal group (say, an association, a party, or a movement) would be to renounce civic virtue for political morality, as does Dean’s comrade. At a maximum, their goals are to issue a statement of original and noble ethico-political principles, to publish a few late Romantic poems, to create a web site, to formulate the comrade’s rules of conduct, and to never grow up.

For Left radicalism, friendship among comrades is the purest form of civic virtue. One is radical out of the ethical consistency she owes to her friends.   The comrade/σύντροφος [not a gender-specific word, both noun and adjective represent any comrade] feels accountable not to a collectivity, a constituency, or a canon but to the principles of her friends; she strives to remain loyal not to society, faith, or country but to the values of her comrades. This accountability creates enormous moral, strategic, existential and other dilemmas. I know from experience since it has been a constant subject of conversation, frustration, negotiation, and gratification in my exacting friendship with my “other self,” Dr. Pantelis Polychronidis. It is the critical distance from the party, and more recently from the Syrizanel government, that keeps Greek comradeship meaningful and urgent.

14 November 2019

Posted in Friends, Left

Η Φωτεινή Τσαλίκογλου κι εγώ ακούμε τη λύπη στον Σούμπερτ

Είμαι ευγνώμων στη σοφή φίλη Φωτεινή Τσαλίκογλου που μου αφιέρωσε το παρακάτω αφήγημα για τη μουσική λύπη στην έξοχη συλλογή της  Οι παράξενες ιστορίες της Κυρίας Φι (2019) που μόλις κυκλοφόρησε.  Το αφήγημα συλλογίζεται γιατί είναι λυπημένοι, πρώτα οι ακροατές, μετά ο ερμηνευτής, και τέλος το ίδιο το έργο.  Κάθε φορά που παρακολουθώ ένα κείμενο της Φωτεινής να εξελίσσεται από χειρόγραφο σε χειρόγραφο θαυμάζω τη γονική στοργή και γενναιοδωρία με την οποία αφήνει το έργο της, “που πάντα υπερτερεί”, να ξέρει και να κάνει πολύ περισσότερα από όσα του έδωσε.

6 Νοεμβρίου 2019

 

Posted in Classical Music, Listening | Tagged ,

“Παίζουμε ένα ποίημα;”/11: Αλέκος Λούντζης: “Εξάγγελος” (η τραγική γνώση)

“Ποιός θα τολμήσει να ξεστομίσει την αλήθεια του χρησμού, να καταγγείλει την γραφικότητα της αιμομιξίας, αναρωτιέται αυτό το χορικό της τραγωδίας της μετα-νεωτερικής Ελλάδας των μετα-προγονικών Ελλήνων οι οποίοι ήρθαν ‘αργά στην εποχή’ τους αλλά δεν έχουν τη δύναμη να το παραδεχτούν. Οι σημερινές Θήβες χρειάζονται ποιητές/Τειρεσίες οι οποίοι έχουν το ‘κουράγιο της αλήθειας’ (Φουκώ) για να κατονομάζουν με παρρησία τα μιάσματα που φέρνουν στην πόλη λοιμούς.”

25 Σεπτεμβρίου 2019

 

Posted in Crisis, Disengagement, Greek Poetry, Melancholy, Resistance | Tagged , , ,

Listening ahead

Listening to Beethoven’s overture (1807) to Collin’s forgotten drama Coriolan (1802), I am always filled with trepidation, struck by the great number of times the music stops.

It is not just the agitation of the first theme.  From the very beginning of the unison C by the intense strings being answered three times by the orchestra to the ending of the three plucked C’s, the piece is repeatedly punctuated by instances of silence.  But exactly what do these rests do?  Do they produce absence of sound or gap of communication?  In either case, they sound even more unsettling in the general context of several accelerations that intensify the pace of the piece.  The music seems to start and stop over and over again.

But as I listen and worry about the next break (is it coming right now or after a couple of phrases?), I begin to realize that during each interval of silence, more than fretting about its length and consequences, I help the piece move forward by participating in its motion.  That is, more than thinking about what has come before and why it led to yet another break, I am energetically anticipating the next episode.  My participatory listening propels the music forward.  At each stop, as the resonance of the music fades, I activate “the underlying promise of hearing something more, of hearing something to listen for” (Lawrence Kramer:  The Hum of the World, 2018, p. 80).  I am listening ahead.  Rather than threatening its survival, to me the eclipse of sound heralds its return.

I treat each musical rest, in part, as a caesura, a silent pause that will soon lead to another episode of the heroic adventure.  My intense excitement is due not to a fear about the fate of music but to my “heroic” involvement with it, a listening practice that Pantelis Polychronidis, my other self who is always listening with me, might call “Beethovenian listening.”

23 October 2019

Posted in Classical Music, Listening | Tagged

Spiral motion in time and space

Here is an orchestra spinning a gyre:

Helix (2005) is an exhilarating single-movement short orchestral work by Esa-Pekka Salonen (b. 1958) that traces the revolution of a conic helix.  It starts slowly at the wide bottom of a cone and accelerates as it spirals to its top.  The composer writes: “The process of Helix is basically that of a nine-minute accelerando.”  The spiral metaphor of the title signifies that the material “is being pushed through constantly narrowing concentric circles until the music reaches a point where it has to stop as it has nowhere to go.”

I find it fascinating that the piece may be heard in several different ways, such as:

An ascending spiral moving rapidly towards the tip, its destination.

A spiral of moods, from the idyllic opening to the manic stop.

A celebratory overture opening a classical concert.

An exuberant piece heralding a new, exciting day.

An exploration of movement bursting into space.

A musical exercise in revolving acceleration.

A virtuosic revolution in time and place.

A contradictory combination of growing sonic expansion                                                       with pressure forced into an increasingly smaller space.

Above all, an activated creative “process” (Salonen) – not a static composition                  but an open-ended pulsating becoming that reaches its apex without ending.

It may also be just the gyrating motion in which the world looks and sounds                        to two great friends, a Finn (Salonen) and a Russian (Valery Gergiev),                        drinking vodkas in St. Petersburg the night the idea of the piece was conceived.

17 October 2019

Posted in Classical Music, Listening

On not Reading Music (3)

Is there a study of the role of music in friendship,                                                                          a study of the way in which music helps people establish and maintain strong friendships, the way the love of music becomes a powerful code of communication for close friends?

I take as an example of music’s resonance in friendship my sonic intimacy with Pantelis Polychronidis, my “other self.”  A major plateau of our friendship is our collaborative listening – namely, not listening together but listening to each other’s listening togetherMy listening to his listening with me and my putting together musical “works” with him makes Pantelis the contrapuntal part of my listening self.  Making music together is the basic dialectic of our reciprocity.  In addition, I have been reading (that is, participating in) his reading of texts such as lyrics, libretti, poetry, scholarship, biography and much more.  It is exhilarating to converse just by citing or quoting textual sources we both know well.

Now, if he teaches me to read music, I will be able to read his ultimate reading, the musical one.  Reading music together would mean reading his reading of a score with me, reaching a new plateau of our collaborative friendship.  Reading the same scores would bring our listening and our reading together.  To our conversations by a piano we would add more conversations, this time on a score.

Together we co-habit a resounding present, we achieve a presence in flux.  Our friendship always unfolds and at the same time remains in suspension.  Once he has taught me how to read a score, the unknowability of music, whose reading also leaves us in suspense, will reinforce the performative understanding of our friendship – the sense that, like          music playing, friendship too is a performance, not a score:  each actualization is unique.

Think of all the pieces you hear, the paintings you see, the lyrics you recite, and the places you experience in the unique way that a dear friend of yours has heard, seen, recited, and experienced them with you.  In all these instances the two of you have not just shared but remade the world togetherFriends promise each other to a shared future                           of at-tunement with new worlds, new musical spheres of their own making.

1 October 2019

Posted in Attunement, Friends, Listening, Music