Loose Ends

–The cheese dip was a big hit at the Super Bowl Party

–My talk went over quite well at the conference. I felt bad presenting something that’s already been accepted for publication somewhere, but you know what? Other people do it all the time. And as a result of it being “old” to me (even though it’s not out yet) the presentation was really slick. It had to be, as I was the last of the day and some eyes were looking droopy. But I managed a good show.

–In other news from the conference, I met a guy who wrote an essay on nonwestern approaches to “copies” which I’m very interested it. For years now I’ve been of the mind that the whole original/copy discussion (e.g., Benjamin’s “Work of Art” essay, Baudrillard Simulations, and on and on and on) is a bunch of metaphysical smoke and mirrors (which is to say ASKING THE WRONG SET OF QUESTIONS) and I tried to deal with it in the long “Social Genesis of Sound Fidelity” in The Audible Past but not to my satisfaction then or now. I’ve been taking a more effective and dismissive (in the nonperjorative sense of the word) approach lately and I’m looking for more ammunition in that area. this is in part fueled by Deleuze’s short “Plato and the Simulacrum” section in The Logic of Sense (a different translation appeared in October I think) but I’m looking for more. Usually, people who don’t believe me aren’t convinced by a long exposition on copies and originals as contenders for the same prize. No big surprise there.

–Despite the fact that friends are on the bill and some of the papers look interesting, I am skipping the conference today for reasons of self-care. This is the new regime. I will not feel guilty for avoiding acts of self-sacrificial heroics that I might otherwise undertake in the name of good academic citizenship. Thank you.

–For the first time ever, we are going to Florida for Spring Break (which does not happen here in Spring, it happens in the last week of February). Carrie is giving a talk in Tampa, so we are going down there for a whole week. I don’t know if I will have blog access or motivation (we know how this worked on past trips), but we leave this Thursday.

3 replies on “Loose Ends”

  1. You know, I totally get what you mean. But I still find that Benjamin essay endlessly useful, even though it contradicts most of his work from the 1930s, at least on the surface, and distills into an argument a lot less interesting than the parts that comprise it. I like Mick Taussig\’s discussion of the essay.

  2. Can we safely say now that there is no reproduction anymore? In terms of practice, media and art today aren\’t reproduced; they\’re simply produced (citation: Peter Jukes, \”The work of art in the domain of digital production\”). Music, film, photography, etc. are copies from the very beginning. It\’s all captured digitally. The reproduction *is* the original.

    I\’ve never really seen the value in all the focus on original/copy arguments, but maybe I\’m just not getting it. It seems to come up a lot in journal articles and books on sound and every time it does, I fail to see why it\’s important. Maybe as an ongoing reaction to Christian Metz, sound academia\’s favorite piñata. ­čÖé

    I do find a lot of value in Benjamin\’s essay, mostly for his ruminating rather than his conclusions. But the way the essay is cited… it\’s too often used to validate postmodernism, which, to me, when you strip away the language, is a validation of a \’karaoke\’ aesthetic, that approachability is more important than beauty. I\’ve never found recombination nearly as pleasing, moving, or interesting as execution. But that\’s my personal High Art perspective.

    To be fair, there\’s a lot left to talk about in terms of representation, and how historical events have their significance and meaning altered when filtered and distributed through media, which are then re-distributed, thus having their meaning further altered (thinking \”howard dean scream\” here). But that\’s probably a different discussion altogether.

    Anyway, I guess I don\’t see the relevence today. But then again, I admit that I only have a cursory knowledge of this stuff.

  3. You know, you might try reading Benjamin with the concept of aura as something other than negative; like surplus value, it is not inherently exploitative/problematic/what have you. Rather the problem lies in its mode of appropriation. Thus the distinction between Soviet film and American film in the essay, which points to the manner in which the medium that appropriates the subject connects it to the \’cosmic\’ sphere, originally what the aura around the fetish object was about. Which is to say that the Work of Art essay is not only about original/copy but creator/created. To be perfectly honest, I think the discussion of original/copy is not the main theme of the piece. Any other reading seems irretrievable given the hegemony that the original/copy dichotomy has established over that text. Maybe that will change now that the Selected Works gives us not only new translations but the different versions of the essay as well.

    Something which might help understanding aura in this manner (and which demonstrates that the Work of Art essay is not really a significant deviation if, indeed, a deviation at all) is to read Work of Art through the lens of the much earlier essay \”On Language As Such and On the Language of Man.\” Peter Fenves has a good chapter on this essay (somewhat along these lines) in his book \”Arresting Language: From Leibniz to Benjamin\” entitled \”The Paradisal Epoche: On Benjamin\’s First Philosophy\”

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