more M.D. D’Anjou

‘our’ situation, the world’s, today, has been entirely predictable. trump has been the end game since 1980. who’s to blame? D’Anjou sent the following to WRO, in 2011, but it was rejected. because blind review failed him… i have decided to post his prescient Failed States, here. were he still working today, he might rename this piece, after Bannon, Deconstructing the regulatory State – a how to. DIY ultra-right Kock conservatism… Given that that is the case, when will the middle class liberal-left wake up to the fact that they are at war? Wake up to the fact that war is being waged against them? And understand that it is in fact, a war? Foucault predicted this. More on that also.



more M.D. D’Anjou

the cold war returns: history of the voiceless [1] 4 – silo silence

do hit the expand image link, lower right corner in each of the ancient videos below. there are a variety of ‘locations’. the first shot in a self-built studio. and other of the same sort, likewise. vidios 2-4  were shot at the headlands center for the arts at the nike missile museum in 1994-5. 5 through 8, in the self-built studio. in each of the videos 2-4, a camera was attached to the respective vehicles: a car, a 1950s radar, and the nike missile itself. the last once was shot in one of the headlands buildings. i have retrieved these early works from the archives of M. D. D’Anjou. I will add D’Anjou’s descriptions of these works when they have been translated. but i should note that this work was titled: silo silence [silence de silo]. [pearodox]

negotiators table

the tunnel

the radar

the missile

a negotiated reading 1

the negotiation

a negotiation reading 2

the negotiators’ briefing

the cold war returns: history of the voiceless [1] 4 – silo silence

history of the voice 3: gevirtz and david antin

We need a new term for such an agency without agent. Gevirtz has given us a profound image in which to locate it; giving voice with the polygenetic middle tongue so that we can take the forked roads between noise and meaning, between listening and speaking, between giving voice and calling, in order to complete the community of the geno-voice. For her, the model derives from the “the virtual space of all the tele-technosciences, in the general dis-location to which our time is destined…”, as Derrida has described the event that governs communication today. Remember that significance doesn’t necessarily imply communication of linguistic meaning; that geno-songs and geno-voices aim to destabilize, to dislocate meaning in the networks of co-interpolation. What I will next demonstrate is that giving voice to something in the tele-technoscientific virtual space of communication today takes the form, as Gevirtz’s poetry brilliantly models, of broadcast. As she puts it in a poem entitled, “Prothesis:”

The voice speaks to its own mouth

and also from a speech external.

American poet and performance artist, David Antin, has developed his work with voice in the medium he polemically and with deliberate understatement calls simply, talk. Antin does not write; he speaks improvisationally before live and radio audiences, records and then transcribes his talk verbatim;


these talk transcriptions are then arranged on the page free of the formalities of proper written conventions such as punctuation and standardized paragraphing and sentence structure, making use of elliptical spaces between talk-fragments, then published as texts. As with nation language poetry, the immanence of the occasion of his talk performances is fundamental.


Each published talk is preceded with brief introductory written texts that describe the circumstances of each talk, in a voice that is as direct and familiar as the talk-texts. These introductions are polysemic in that they reflect on the political, personal, institutional, social, significance of the talk mise en scène. Their function is to draw the reader, as precisely and evocatively as possible, into the occasion’s immanence, and are analogous to Brathwaite’s notion of total expression; they historicize, locate, conjure up a past-present moment.


In 1977 he performed a talk entitled, Tuning, which may be thought of as his aesthetic manifesto. Radio broadcasting is clearly one of his intended paradigmatic registers, as in the phrase, tuning the radio; but the term also suggests the act of tuning a musical instrument, and the idiomatic expression, to tune in or out. We should also understand the terms as signifying song, as in the colloquial expression, tune. But as we will see in the following passage, his intent is to make an alliance with everyday practices of non-narrative, informal, wandering conversation as at a dinner table. He is resolutely not a storyteller; we might think of him as pursing the forked paths between a radio or TV commentator and an essayist like Montaigne. His overall intent is, to use an awful neologism, to de-literature-ize by reinforcing in every way possible, the literal network of co-interpolating associations that swirl around a matrix of related ideas that spontaneously emerge in the presencing act of talking. Antin’s method is the poetic equivalent of jazz improvisation, and each talk piece is a consummate example of a geno-song, performed rigorously in a geno-voice.

Antin begins to tune the middle tongue, to tune into the forked zone of the antinomy, exogenous/endogenous; he ‘calls’ his talk into existence as talk and immediately tunes his listeners exogenously to be complicit in the freedom from expectation, and endogenously to another antinomy – the personal, contradictory zone of generosity versus “self”-indulgence. He immediately creates a dialog about ethics, drawing speaker and listener onto the same forked path, while putting them in the explorer’s frame of mind, the erotic frame of wanting to know, making them curious and capably participatory through the ‘freedom of expectation” from having to know anything at all. He suspends meaning, suggesting that ‘communication’ is necessarily a negotiation and never certain or resolved because it requires consensus. His first spoken words are ones of initiation to an absolute freedom to imagine that is the fundamental principle of revolution.

Antin’s politics of tuning is similar to Barthes’ grain of the voice; it’s aims is to produce, as suggested above, a collective resistance to the liberal humanist ‘voice’ that atomizes the social through its infinite, repetitive broadcast of bankrupt subjectivist fantasies, which can never be generous, and only ever “self”-indulgent. Tuning is, therefore, a tuning to collective listening/speaking of polygenetic voices, to giving that amalgam a collective chance. An assessment that “seems only fair.” Antin’s tune is one of ethical, collective judgment that will become a precedent ‘because’ he fiddles with his tape recorder. Talk becomes the preeminent ‘record’ of urgency because it’s immanent, and a demand for judgments that must be made now, outside the hermetic closet that has been literature, ‘for him,” and thus for “us” because we listen to his call and are thus made complicit in what ‘we’ all desperately need to address. Listeners will be taken seriously because they are witnesses to a polygenetic vocal event to which they have been called to participate and judge. And because they listen, they are ethically responsible. Antin’s talks literally produce extra-legal courtrooms in which listener/responder voices will be heard, judged, and acted upon.

As they can be because:

there are too many things         no there are

not so many things there are only a few things you may want

to talk about but there are too many ways you could talk

about them         and no urgency in which you may choose to talk

about them           there are too many ways to proceed

The form, cadence, the “shapes of intonation,” as Brathwaite put it, of these lines derive, in Antin’s case, from Stein, also an inveterate though misunderstood non-modernist populist, and are opposed to Joyce, whom Antin despised for his aspiration to ‘great’ literature. Antin’s goal has been to produce “a post napoleonic commitment to producing an amazingly important object      Balzac say”   His aim has been to free our voices from a double dominance through listening to talk; from the dominance of normalizing pheno-songs on the one hand, and on the other, from communications of reductive meaning, between singers and listeners. His appeal is to “some sense of urgency out there     a passing police car           they     have an audience   they have an audience and a need          and they may respond to it badly                       but they have their sense of urgency”      He suppressed perhaps saying, ‘at least.’

Antin recognized that even policing has its libratory potential. In this vein, we could of course refer to Brecht’s model for a Marxist dramatic literature; the impossibility of several witnesses reporting a car crash in the same way. But that model, with its emphasis on sight, would undermine Antin’s emphasis on the siren, the sound, that calls us to urgency of what we do not yet know, but could; not to the unknowable event itself, which is just that – incomprehensible. Sight is overrated; sound is more singular and so a more reliable form of evidence. So talk is far more believable than writing because ‘we’ can experience it collectively and simultaneously, and agree or not, on what the voice says. Antin’s method is to mediate these disparate ethical calls.


history of the voice 3: gevirtz and david antin

history of the voice 2: gevirtz and barthes and derrida and kamau braithwaite

Speak the Middle Tongue – Take the Forked Road: A Theory of the Voice

The voice is the sign of pain and pleasure…

Aristotle, Politics, 123a, 10-18.

The grain of the voice, Barthes tell us,  “is… the materiality of the body speaking its mother tongue; perhaps the letter, almost certainly significance.” [182] To comprehend this definition, we must rigorously avoid a misunderstanding easily succumbed to; that to signify something is to communicate it. To ward off that misapprehension we must answer the following questions: How are we to understand materiality and significance, and their relation? What does the italicization of significance connote? Barthes’ use of materiality is straightforward; it refers to “the sonic effects of the tongue, the glottis, the teeth, the mucous membranes, the nose;” [183] to the “body in the voice as it sings, the hand as it writes, the limb as it performs.” [188] These embodied forces determine the diction of enunciation, which constitutes its ‘grain,’ that allows us to recognize the identity of a speaker when he/she speaks. We recognize voices as we recognize faces – through their embodiments.


Barthes theoretically allies the grain with the geno-song, a biological, materialist concept he transposes to music from Kristeva’s linguistic analog – the geno-text – individual works of pheno- or species-text exemplified by genres like romance or science fiction texts. The geno-song is defined thus:

[it] is the volume of the singing and speaking voice, the space where significations germinate ‘from within language and in its very materiality’; it forms a signifying play having nothing to do with communication, representation (of feelings), expression; it is that apex (or that depth) of production where the melody really works at the language – not at what it says, but the voluptuousness of its sound-signifiers, or its letters – where melody explores how the language works and identifies with that work. [182]


To illustrate the materiality of the geno-song, I’ll play a clip of the Tuva throat singer, Borbannadir.

Significance, then, is italicized to warn us against mistaking it for communication, representation, or expression. It is what works at language but not at its meaning. Meaning, for Barthes, is a product of the reductive forces of the pheno-text by which culture enforces limits to understanding, to significance, by “reconcil[ing] the subject to what in music can be said: what is said about it, predicatively, by Institution, Criticism, Opinion,” by which he means the codes of langue that always precede and police the voice. [185] Significance of the grain, Barthes acknowledges in a passing parenthetical allusion to another of his foundational texts, derives its value when the text emerges in the work.

In order for a voice to have grain, to have non-communicative significance, it must break the codes of works, of pheno-songs and pheno-texts, and emerge into the text of the geno-song through listening to the relation of the body of the speaker, singer, or player. The relation, he tells us, also transcends individualistic subjectivity because it is erotic and physiological – it is not a psychological subject who sings or listens, the voice is not an expression of any subject, but it’s dissolution, produced outside of the laws of culture, beyond the valuations of ‘I like’ or ‘I don’t like.’ [188]

We are all familiar with these poststructuralist themes: text vs work, authorial death, corporeal jouissance, the politics of language. My intention here is to remind us of what the stakes were then, (and which I strongly believe are still relevant today), in putting significance beyond reductive codes that normalize meaning, and in relation to a decidedly non-subjective but still embodied materiality. Sound, music, voice, all have the critical capacity to de-subjectivize, to break free of the narrow circuits through which the codes of culture restrict most of us to ‘expressing’ only individuality. The politics of the grain of the voice aims to produce collective responses against liberal humanism’s ‘voice’ that atomizes the social through its infinite and repetitive broadcast of bankrupt individualist, subjectivist fantasies. While this claim may appear hyperbolic, it is what Barthes intended, and accurately represents the political aims of much poststructuralist thought – to free our voices from a double dominance; from the dominance of normalizing pheno-songs on the one hand, and on the other, from communications of reductive meaning, between singers and listeners.

I will now turn to Derrida’s analysis of ‘monolingualism’ as a means by which to define voice, not as a work but, by analogy, as a ‘text.’


Monolingualism opens by staging the scene of a dialogue about “performative contradictions.” The umbrella formulation of the contradiction reads: “I have only one language; it is not mine.” [1] The contradiction, thus formulated, may easily be justified. In Kristeva’s terms, the contradiction lies between pheno-text and geno-text; for Barthes analysis of the voice, between pheno-song and geno-song. I propose here another dichotomy between pheno-voice and geno-voice, which I will formulate in a moment. Each of these oppositions is a species of the Sassurian legacy; parole refers to having one language through one’s ability to speak it; while langue refers to the impossibility of ever possessing a language at all because it forever supersedes the capacity of speech. A second defense of Derrida’s performative contradiction lies in the dialogic; in the reciprocal, bi-directionality of speaking/listening, in the inevitability of networks of co-interpolations; signifying networks in which speakers call listeners into being, and vice versa. Recognizing that the stakes of ‘giving voice to’ involve communication, but not necessarily significance – what is it that is given voice, for what purpose, and by what means? – we quickly find that a long series of antinomies unfolds here: truth and lie, confession and judgment, proof and construction, monologue and dialogue. This partial series demarks some of the undecideable parameters of “performative contradiction,” and therefore of what the act of giving voice signifies.


This series of antinomies also allows us to suggest initial definitions of pheno- and geno-voices. [1] The pheno-voice is an agent of communication whose role is to negotiate contradictions in the act of giving voice, in its performance of irresolvable contradictions whose function is not to generate, but to suspend, meaning. [2] The geno-voice arises in a particular network of interpolations as an advocate for some vector of signification; it is always a product of objective conditions both exogenous and endogenous to it. [3] This means that the geno-voice is an assemblage of all other voices (the text emerging in a work) that have responded to the call of a given performative contradiction.


A voice is an agency that advocates by calling for a particular significance for a given network of co-interpolations. It is a polygenetic agency, a call without a singular agent, without identity – polyphonic, polyglot, and polyatomic – a complex network of nodes and characteristics resonating along the vocal scale of the network of terms show here on the paradigmatic axis.

To put this in the precise language of performative contradiction, a geno-voice is not more objective than subjective. In Barthes’ terms paraphrased above: it is produced by listening to the relation of the body of the speaker, singer, or player; with the additional qualification of plurality or relations among speakers, singers, and players. A voice interpolates values, and is therefore essentially, necessarily a sociopolitical agency called into being through its encounters with antinomies, with the Other that is both exogenous and endogenous to it. To recognize that we BOTH always and never speak only one language, that language is BOTH ours and not ours, is to know, as Gevirtz has so beautifully put it, that when we give voice to anything at all, it is to speak with the middle tongue and to take the forked road.

I now turn to some examples to illustrate this theory of the voice. In 1979, the Caribbean poet Edward Kamau Brathwaite gave a remarkable lecture at Harvard entitled, History of the Voice, published in 1980 in book form. The aim of this work was to show how Black Caribbean poetry emerged simultaneously with and through the musical geno-songs of Calypso and Reggae with the conscious intent of distinguishing itself from the dominance of British English taught in Jamaican schools. His lecture demonstrates in extraordinary detail how these geno-songs are based in the materiality of the Caribbean environment, like its weather, and from the polyglot patois of black Jamaican idiom, in order to resist the master’s poetic language exemplified by the Shakespearian metrical model of iambic pentameter.

I’ll cite here only one of his many examples, in which he compares Shakespeare to his own poetry, to illustrate this.

(IP)                  To be or not to be, that is the question.


(Kaiso)           The stone had skidded arc’d and bloomed into islands

Cuba San Domingo

Jamaica Puerto Rico

Brathwaite, ‘Caribbean theme: a calypso, CQ4: 3&4 (1956) p. 246;

Rights of Passage (1967: as “Calypso’), p. 48; sung by the author on Argo DA101 (1969), PLP1110(1972).

He describe the difference between these lines in this way:

…not only is there a difference in syllabic or stress pattern, there is an important difference in shape of intonation. In the Shakespeare…, the voice travels in a single forward plane towards the horizon of its end. In the kaiso, after the skimming movement of the first line, we have a distinct variation. The voice dips and deepens to describe an intervallic pattern.

Barthe’s concept of the geno-song is readily apparent here; the “shapes of intonation” the dipping and deepening of the voice, and the emphasis on the “intervallic pattern,” are all terms which stress embodiment. Based on this type of polygenetic, poetic analysis, he then elaborates the concept of “nation language:”


Significance, meaning, is co-created in the intervallic spacetime between the material recitation of spoken/sung sound and song; it arises as much from noise as from written language. But nation language also demonstrates the polygentic, performances of contradictions that are the fundamental condition of monolingualism, what Brathwaite calls the ‘total expression” that determines the uniqueness of Caribbean poetry, that is based on



The voice speaks to its own mouth
and also from a speech external.

Prosthesis, Susan Gevirtz

Total expression is performed in the antinomic space between listener and singer, between the voice and the call; that is to say, the singer is also and simultaneously a listener just as the listener is simultaneously a singer. Singer and listener reciprocally interpolate one another, but do so relative to the historically unique immanence of breath, poverty, and Jamaica’s material environment. It is the particular material conditions of its island state that calls forth the particular vector of significance as both noise and language, and that gives polygentic voice to the particular Caribbean agency without agent of nation language. This polygentic voice is a corporeal agency that embodies a diction recognizable as what Bourdieu has called the collective-individual, and Spivak has called the planetary subject – subjects that resist social atomization because the listen to the call of total expression, and learn to give it voice to the network of co-interpolations.

history of the voice 2: gevirtz and barthes and derrida and kamau braithwaite

aperghis 2, foretaste of the thread: a history of the voice [1]: Susan Gevirtz, Beckett, Tuva throat singers, and others to follow. [see post below: georges aperghis, parcours 1-4 in sequence, for the record, and bernie lubell’s wooden neurotic machines]

in luna park, we find some threads of recent posts accreting: zappa, coltraine, the power and necessity of experimentalism, technological mediation, what is art, for whom and where, how deep does art go? to what length is it willing to go? the conflation of media. if neanderthals risked their lives to make ‘art’ in deep, dark caves, is luna park any different? of course it’s ‘different’ in style and technology. but might it arise from the same ‘animal’, or similar departure from ‘animal’, impulse? i am in no doubt that if Nietzsche were alive to witness luna park, he’d be today as much an aperghian as he was in his day a wagnerian. does that mean that there is a connection between wagner and  aperghis? no, it doesn’t. it means only that N would have recognized that what aperghis accomplishes for our day, is what wagner might have but failed to do, in N’s. N broke radically with W because the latter came to ally his music of ‘Gesamtwerk’ with everything N despised – nationalist, nihilistic, rationalist, autocratic modernity.

luna park grapples with these problems of modernity. the IRCAM production, with levy’s stage design and beller’s transposition of aperghis’s score into digital music, combines the nietzschean problem of our historical moment superbly – bodies are fragmented, confined, constrained, mediated, are present and virtual simultaneously, subjected to modernity’s tech while struggling to maintain their autonomy. the audience must choose what it decides to applaud: the seduction of the technology, or the corporeal, musical brilliance of the performers.

keep in mind that aperghis’ use of ‘language’ elements, the sounds vocalized but mostly incomprehensible linguistically, is meant to challenge the dominance of text/language dominance central to the so called ‘linguistic turn’ of 20th anthropology, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and even science, as the main instruments for policing ‘knowledge’ production. even though there is a superficial resemblance to dada, to tzra, schwitters and ball for example, it is at best tenuous, and would reduce A to a historical moment that would eradicate his politically aesthetic intentions.

it’s impossible for me not to compare this work with many of its precedents. i’m thinking in particular of a facet of beckett’s work that as far as i know has not been commented on. one of his very early works was created for BBC radio, and, was about ‘radio’ as a technology. I’m also thinking of his Not-I, Kamau Braithwait’s little know book, History of the Voice, Barthe’s Grain of the Voice, Merce Cunningham’s dance work, Torse, and his Variations V. and many other refs… which i will comment on in the future.

this is not the best recording, but what’s available on youtube: it’s about the alienating effects of the technology of radio:

it seems to me that beckett’s Not I establishes an aesthetic/poetic standard by which any sonic art must be compared/judged. comparing doesn’t necessarily mean judgment; just as judging doesn’t necessarily mean comparing. and then, try if you will, to separate the content from form. but again, here, the corporeal, the technology of the body, is foremost. just listen to the commentary about the ‘brain’, about spatio-temporality, B’s obsession, as it was in his only venture into cinema, FILM, and his general aesthetic trajectory, a kind of pre-postmodern self-reflexivity of form and content – the inseparable intrication of media and content, whether medialogical or simply linguistic, or their juxtaposition/synthesis/conflation.

right. all that. but also, the deletion of every aspect of Spectacle. no fashion, not stage, no ‘star’, no recognizable person. thus, not-i. nothing but the technology of voice of the human body.

and of course, tuva throat singing:

for those who may be interested, i’ve given talks about the beckett work:

Speak the Middle Tongue – Take the Forked Road: A Theory of the Voice

The voice is the sign of pain and pleasure…

Aristotle, Politics, 123a, 10-18.

the title derives from a poetic text by the american poet, susan gevirtz, cited in my talk not included in the excerpt below. so i include it upfront, out of the argument sequence, as another epigraph:

We need a new term for such an agency without agent. Gevirtz has given us a profound image in which to locate it; giving voice with the polygenetic middle tongue so that we can take the forked roads between noise and meaning, between listening and speaking, between giving voice and calling, in order to complete the community of the geno-voice. For her, the model derives from the “the virtual space of all the tele-technosciences, in the general dis-location to which our time is destined…”, as Derrida has described the event that governs communication today. Remember that significance doesn’t necessarily imply communication of linguistic meaning; that geno-songs and geno-voices aim to destabilize, to dislocate meaning in the networks of co-interpolation. What I will next demonstrate is that giving voice to something in the tele-technoscientific virtual space of communication today takes the form, as Gevirtz’s poetry brilliantly models, of broadcast. As she puts it in a poem entitled, “Prothesis:”


The voice speaks to its own mouth

and also from a speech external.


To round out my ‘talk’,

I’ll now turn briefly to Samuel Beckett’s “Rough for Radio I,” written originally in French in 1961, but not published in English until 1976 as “Sketch for Radio Play” in Stereo Headphones, no. 7. This work has been largely ignored by Beckett critics, in part, because Beckett himself considered it surpassed by his later radio works, particularly by “Cascando,” 1962. “Rough for Radio I,” however, if less developed in aesthetic terms than his later works, is far more relevant to my theoretical discussion here, because it addresses what a first encounter with radio may have been like. I don’t have time here to discuss this short but complex work in much detail, and will highlight only a few of its elements. The two main characters are simply called HE and SHE. HE has invited SHE to his flat for reasons that are never made completely clear, but, as SHE says: “I have come to listen.” In the first part of the work, the dialogue between the two characters establish the scene and state of HE’s mind – the flat is dark and cold, HE is troubled and responds irritably and with barely restrained hostility to SHE’s concern for him and interest in the event. As SHE says: HE has suffered her to come. The event that unfolds only very slowly and haltingly depicts SHE’s first encounter with both operating a radio, learning to tune it, (knobs must be twisted not pushed), and with it’s transmission only of voices on some channels, only music on others, and both simultaneously playing on still others. SHE’s response is of incomprehension and astonishment. SHE cannot understand the relation between the voices and music, cannot understand where they are, if they are together or not, why they cannot be seen or see each other, or whether or not they are in the same situations. Beckett depicts HE as equally unable to comprehend the experience of listening to the disembodied voices and music; HE does not understand SHE’s question – “Are they in the same… situation?” But when she modifies her query to – “Are they… subject to the same… conditions?” – HE replies, “Yes, madam.” Beckett suggests that HE has been traumatized by listening to the radio, and that HE has become addicted to the experience of listening. SHE asks: “… you like that?” HE responds: “It is a need.” At this point, SHE leaves the flat.


In the second part of the radio play, HE makes two successive telephone calls to his doctor, but reaches only the latter’s secretary. The secretary’s voice is never heard; her comments can only be surmised from HE’s answers. During the two calls, the radio alternately plays voices and music simultaneously. The sonic effect is palimpsestic, yet riddled with the secretary’s silent responses and HE’s silent pauses as he listens to her, and to the radio. HE is very agitated, in a state of panic, describing his situation as “most urgent.” The radio music and voices become increasing faint, and HE is now terrified that they will completely stop. “They’re ending,” he tells the secretary, and with terror shouts, “ENDING.” HE for a moment imagines that the voices and music will come together, then realizes that that is impossible. “…how could they meet?”, he asks. The secretary, after apparently asking: Isn’t that what all last gasps are like?, hangs up abruptly, or the connection is accidentally lost. But she then calls back immediately, the music and voice are heard together, though fading, and finally cease. Against this sonic background, HE’s replies to the secretary reveal that the doctor is unable to come until the next day because he has to attend to two births, one of which is breech.


What, then, are we to make of “Rough for Radio I?” My view is that it is Beckett’s critique of broadcast’s power to alienate, to create trauma, panic, and psychosis through its enforcement of isolation of individuals from each other. The disembodied voices produce a general sociocultural condition of disembodiment, nothing less than a psychotic historical rupture in the human condition. It is an allegory of social breakdown, the breakdown of relations between HE and SHE, between HE and the doctor, between He and his wife who has left him; in general, the breakdown of human relations caused by the advent of the tele-technoscientific, virtual, sonic space of communication, represented by both radio and telephone. That the musicians and speakers are isolated from each other, will never be able to inhabit the same situation, never come together, is what explains why they are subject to the same conditions, those of alienation. This interpretation is reinforced at the work’s end by the now thankfully rare condition in which women once gave birth – confinement. The radio confines it’s listeners to their living rooms, just as the telephones opens up a global virtual space of sonic alienation, with speakers/listeners reduced to disembodied voices on either end of the telephone line, and just as the broadcast musicians and speakers are confined to separate channels. “Rough for Radio I” is a grim depiction of the death of the communities of nation language and its total expression that both Antin and Brathwaite work to restore. Antin’s urgency is powerfully figured here by two possible types of birth; will a post-broadcast humanity be born in its confined condition safely, or, literally inversely, by breech? Beckett no doubt intended breech to be understood homophonically – as much a breach of law, code, and most importantly, a breach of relations, as a breech birth, which equalizes the potentials of life and death.

“Rough for Radio I,” then, goes into this breach, as a work of broadcast about broadcast, in formal terms; but much more importantly, in affective terms, it is an attempt to produce a condition of immanence in listeners through identification with HE and SHE. In other words, Beckett’s work represents the alienation between the radio’s speaker/voices/music in order to produce an understanding in listeners that they are, actually, literally, those characters. HE and SHE are literally voices in their heads, and their material signification emerges their, in the reciprocal events of listening/hearing, and hearing/listening. In this sense, “Rough for Radio I” speaks with the third tongue and takes the forked road between listening and giving voice, between HE and SHE, between patient and doctor, between music and voice, and finally, between the birth and death of humanity as it listens to and speaks of the historically inscribed conditions of broadcast modernity. Beckett’s remarkable allegory of immanent urgency is a consummate performance of contradictions that demonstrates our monolinguistic fate – that though we speak only one language, it can never belong to us.

By way of summary, I will end by citing a few lines from Gevirtz’s poem, “Prosthesis,” already referred to, which is, and better because realized rather than merely theoretically speculative, another revision of the concept with which I began, the grain of the voice:


How the voice is part of the body and alters with the body’s growth.


The confusion, question, of whose voice is whose, from where do words

issue? Who has them like we have an arm?


The legal voice and its link to limb.


The voice that exists without body, on tape, on the phone, on the radio –

its omniscient fascist possibilities all by itself.


Gevirtz, from Prosthesis : : Caesarea, Potes & Poets Extra, 1993; reissued by LRL e-editions, 2009.



aperghis 2, foretaste of the thread: a history of the voice [1]: Susan Gevirtz, Beckett, Tuva throat singers, and others to follow. [see post below: georges aperghis, parcours 1-4 in sequence, for the record, and bernie lubell’s wooden neurotic machines]

the age old question 2: the first artists ever were pre-homo sapiens, yet still human, and were ‘graffiti artists’ – they used early forms of ‘spray paint’: is this the origin of class and race[ism] in science?

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More than 65,000 years ago, a Neanderthal reached out and made strokes in red ochre on the wall of a cave, and in doing so, became the first known artist on Earth, scientists claim.

The discovery overturns the widely-held belief that modern humans are the only species to have expressed themselves through works of art.

In caves separated by hundreds of miles, Neanderthals daubed, drew and spat paint on walls producing artworks, the researchers say, tens of thousands of years before modern humans reached the sites.

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The finding, described as a “major breakthrough in the field of human evolution” by an expert who was not involved in the research, makes the case for a radical retelling of the human story, in which the behaviour of modern humans differs from the Neanderthals by the narrowest of margins.

Paul Pettit, professor of palaeolithic archaeology at Durham University. “The most important question still remains, however. What were Neanderthals doing in the depths of dark and dangerous caves if it wasn’t ritual, and what does that imply?”

Historically, works of art and symbolic thinking have been held up as proof of the cognitive superiority of modern humans – examples of the exceptional skills that define our species. Neanderthals, by comparison, have suffered a bad press since the first skeletons were unearthed in the Neander valley near Düsseldorf in the 19th century. While the German biologist Ernst Haeckel failed to convince his fellow scientists to name the species Homo stupidus, Neanderthals were still described as incapable of moral or theistic conceptions, and depicted as knuckle-dragging apemen.

the age old question 2: the first artists ever were pre-homo sapiens, yet still human, and were ‘graffiti artists’ – they used early forms of ‘spray paint’: is this the origin of class and race[ism] in science?

the age old question: what is the purpose of art? for whom? by what means? according to whom? and where?

On Feb 21, 2018, at 5:55 AM, Alf wrote:

tell us what you see on the wall

what i see on the wall… at first sight, visually, the artist’s transformation through compositional inclusion of the facade’s areas of fallen plaster. whereby, he’s commented on the cycles of birth and death…. he’s revalued ‘decay’ as a positive and troubling force/event/element. and emphasized the fact that there is NO guarantee that this corn born child will survive. he’s composed the broken plaster areas into a shape that is both a cartoon-like thought bubble, and the typographical symbol of a question mark. which door will the future walk through? this artwork is not a commodity. to those who can read it’s hidden messages, it’s a call to consider that this historical moment hangs by a thread between life and death. the near future of the entire planet is unquestionably in doubt. is there any doubt that this corn-born-child is entering a future, dessicated hell?


….the reason why I am asking is because I think that agreeing to what you say is easy and the common view of half of the people in the US, Europe, Turkey. However it seems to me that it is not Trump and his poor voters or the disillusion with the EU bureaucracy or the many other identity crises that surround us, that make our problem. They are the effect not the cause. We have lost our ability to see and are turning blind, day by day.


Most profoundly we lost our ability to see into the future. To have lost sight of what was once described in an understandable way, a common goal and a better world.  When every form of ideology was disregarded by the misconduct of Marx’s philosophy under the political dictatorship of the USSR and art turned with Andy Warhol on nothing more than the description of society, we gradually lost what was in every painting before the Second World War: a search for knowledge for the salvation of humanity.

agreed in part, with your first 2 sentences. though not sure i understand what you’re getting at with the third sentence above.

You can see those paintings in every museum of the world but can you understand them as such?  yes and no

How can we learn to see again? see below

We need to show people how to see the world a new and move from simple observations to views of the world and believe systems. well, who shows what to whom? perhaps this artist is showing ‘us’ something ‘we’ need to learn to recognize…

We need to move from drawing on the wall to imagining better communication to ideas of social interaction. who says what ‘better ways to imagine communicating are? and this artist is, in fact, imagining better ways to communicate. yo pienso.

I want to know how we can extend creative views of our future?  – whose future?

So please  tell us what you see. Is it a continuation of the great Mexican tradition of painting your political believe on the wall, or is it like our fashionable street art, which has now been put under conservation order by British Heritage, to eliminated any visual, political possibility. see the following:



what you’re seeing is a typical decaying yet historically significant building two blocks from where i’m living. you can tell by the pediment at the top, the door frame, and the decently preserved wood door. to preserve a wood door in the land of termites is not trivial.

this young artist of course knows about ‘graffiti’, his medium is spay paint, but he’s obviously not worried about being busted by cops… he’s working solo, not with a crew to get the job done as fast a possible. he brings a large ladder with him, sets his paints out on the pavement in an organized fashion, and enjoys the fact that some guy from the hood watches him. and the guy from the hood thoroughly loves what he sees.

what i see is this: an artist who knows his ‘canvass’ – an old stone/stucco covered building on the corner of 36/65 that faces a lot of traffic, that is likely but not necessarily uninhabited, that has a form and color that he knows will compliment his very sophisticated color palette/colour theory. he’ chooses buildings, so i surmise, that have partially deteriorated facades, so he can include that in his composition. he’s very thoughtful, so he’s studied this specific building for awhile. and designed his painting specifically for this facade. or maybe he’s very good at improve. but my guess is that he’s planned this for awhile, at least partly, because of how intelligently he has used the facade compositionally. i watched him for a bit, and he never hesitated about what he needed to do next. he never stepped back to check it out, contemplate what might be good to do next. no, he just went about it systematically, every spayed surface by sprayed surface, very quickly and efficiently, but without hurry. someone may be paying him to do the job. but that seems unlikely, but not impossible.


as for the content of the image:  a child being born sucking it’s thumb, with earring, and well tasseled poney tail, from an ear of corn, that’s a reference to Popol Vuh, the mayan  oral, ‘religious’/cultural/mythological traditional that the mayan race was born from ears of corn. without knowing what the artist will paint next, i can’t say how he plans to interpret the myth further. i’ll let you now. but aesthetically, he’s working in the tradition, knowingly or not, of the mexican muralists. then again, rivera and the like, took their aesthetic mural designs from exactly a ‘naive’ artist like this… so this aritst probably knows nothing about rivera and the mexican modernists.

i  will keep you posted.


update: unedited, so sorry for typos..

pictured above is the proud owner/occupant of the building, who has just finished sweeping the sidewalk. and his young daughter running around the corner. not pictured is the contact the owner and i had. he’s so pleased and happy with this contribution to the National Patrimony, specifically mayan in this case, exhibited on his house.

this is in a poor neighborhood where i’m the only gringo for at least a 2 mile radius. so i don’t think it’s appropriate to judge this work by euro-north-american high art standards. and definitely not by ‘aesthetic’ criteria of any sort, least that of modernist avant-gardism. while this artist is obviously influenced by street art, he probably has no idea who banksy is. he may. but even if he does, he wouldn’t take him as any kind of inspiration. this is purely a form of ‘indigenous’ art, mayan art, embedded in a local fight for self-respect, ‘idigiomas nacionales’ – indigenous nationalism and patrimony. and while in this era, that might smack of white nationalisms… there is no heil hitler salutes intended. on the contrary, if this is ‘nationalist’ in any way at all, it’s meant to speak to the patrimony of a decimated and oppressed indigenous and discriminated against subclass of people, the ‘yucatecans’, who are identical to the discriminated against societies of north american native americans. and, to be ‘nationalist’, has no meaning at all in mayan or any other indigenous societies because the concept of the ‘state’ does not exist. the ‘audience’ this artist wants to reach, is that of his own oppressed community of native mayans. even if he’s aware of the art history of modernity, he doesn’t give a shit about it. of if he does, he wants to resist and subvert it. yet, and yet, he’s learned from it, ironically perhaps, aesthetically… thus my previous comments about his attention to composition, color, the site specificness of the particular building he’s chosen to work with. and, it can be said that his medium, spray paint, is used in the tradition of the great mexican muralists, who because they allied themselves with communism, ascribed to the style of a popular art meant to teach and communicate ‘social values’ and traditions = ‘social realism’. full of figuration and symbolism that can be visually ‘read’. visually read by those who are ‘illiterate’ in terms of the elitist codes of modernist aestheticism…. not only illiterate linguistically speaking, in terms of writing – many ‘illiterates’ are multilingual on the level of speaking. but, illiterate in terms of being a ‘member’ a globalized modernity. indigenous people around the globe are, specifically, the outcasts of modernity, those who have been not only abandoned by it, but brutally and intentionally oppressed and eliminated, by it. just look at what happens to the indigenous peoples in the brazilian, ecuadorian, and peruvian amazon, where the concept of liberal ‘human rights’ is unknown, has no basis in constitutional law, or, when it does as in those same countries that have what is known as ‘multinational constitutions’, is entirely ignored because the power elite are above all law and do as they please to enrich themselves no matter the loss of life, daily and mortal, that that may entail.


i’ve traveled and lived for long periods of time in several places in latin american over many years. including brazil, ecuador, peru, bolivia and mexico. i have a substantial amount of first hand knowledge of the internal ‘racism’ in latin america. and, paradoxically, the utter lack of it. that would be another post entirely. just to say: this particular work that uses spay paint to achieve a kind of symbolic social realism while borrowing in some way from the aesthetic canons of public art site specificity in order to reach a very specific, local [neighborhood level] audience, is done brilliantly in the context of this bario or colonia in merida.

so, it’s not a matter of what to ‘see’. it’s a matter of what i’m trying to interpret and comprehend about the art practice in this very specific social context, where the artist is highly aware of his own highly specific social context. this is brilliant conceptual art, in effect. it’s just that this artist is using the visual languages he has available to him, no differently than cindy sherman or barbara krueger, or the now ‘debunked’ work of the US ‘native american’, jimmy durham…



the age old question: what is the purpose of art? for whom? by what means? according to whom? and where?