josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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14 Aug '03 09:49:27 AM

You have no idea how long that one little paragraph took me to write. (I only had the first sentence yesterday.) This is why I have not finished any of these papers yet.

14 Aug '03 09:46:55 AM

Recognize this? I hope so. If you know anything about Monk, please write me and let me know if you think there's anything to complain about. I've listened to a lot of Monk lately but I haven't written this against any particular piece of music, the way I usually do. (I'm trying to take my own advice from below, and write off the top of my head.)

The recordings I'm talking about (the only ones I've heard from the time I'm talking about) are Straight, No Chaser, and the live sets from the It Club and the Jazz Workshop - all on Columbia.

I know there's a problem getting from the second to last sentence to the last sentence. I don't know how to get there right now. Also, I know 'duration' sounds funny. I don't like it. I probably need more words there. 'Duration' comes from the Deleuze stuff floating around in my head, since originally this paper had something directly to do with plateaus, and I can't get away from the attractive fit between some of Deleuze and Guattari's explicit statements about what a plateau is (like 'a continuous, self-vibrating region of intensities whose development avoids any orientation toward a culmination point or external end') and the stuff from the cinema books about the time-image. But 'duration' of some sort will have to be in there, although I suppose maybe I really had better spend some time talking about how the time spent listening to something like this (my next example is house, hello) sort of disappears when it's done that certain special way. Paradoxes, how philosophical of me. Or of Deleuze, probably. Anyway, here it is. Please comment.

'When you're swinging, swing some more.'

This aphorism of Thelonious Monk's takes on special significance in light of his later recordings, especially those of the quartet with Charlie Rouse (ts), Larry Gales (b), and Ben Riley (d). Monk's compositions always seemed particularly self-similar, but in this period the band often seems to be performing variations on the same small fragment of music, over and over again. (The ballads are an exception.) More than in the past, everyone's solos stick close to the melody - even Riley's. But unlike on the ballads, where Rouse and Monk in particular (more often the only soloists on ballads) tend more toward embellishing the melody, soloing on the other songs becomes a process of continual variation. Continual, not continuous: the variation is not necessarily cumulative or progressive. It's better to consider it a sequence of independent variations on a static prototype (though of course even the statement of the melody in the head of the song may vary from the original in any given performance). The most fascinating and joyful thing about the process is that, rather than tending toward monotony, it makes it seem as if the band could go on playing around with the same theme forever. Every new way of rebuilding it somehow carries some of the wonder that comes from hearing a (uniquely different) great melody, even though each one bears an undeniable resemblance to the original melody. And so Monk's aphorism has the sense not only of intensity (swing harder), but duration (keep swinging).

14 Aug '03 06:43:38 AM

Of course, I can't think of any way to run such a journal (obviously I would have to run it myself) other than despotically.

14 Aug '03 06:06:03 AM

I wonder how I find out what's required to start a journal.

I wonder why I can't shake the idea of starting one.

13 Aug '03 07:50:26 PM

I forgot about the Clipse record on my list. Unfortunately it's too late to return the jackets.

13 Aug '03 09:47:03 AM

I have been, to my excitement, making a great deal of headway in A Thousand Plateaus. So I had thought to periodically follow up (however lamely) some of Deleuze and Guattari's ten million sources by posting the appropriate links here. But today, I can do nothing more than quote this remarkable sentence from page 377 (still in the 'Treatise on Nomadology'). I submit it for your careful contemplation today.

'Thought is like the Vampire; it has no image, either to constitute a model of or to copy.'

13 Aug '03 09:42:14 AM

I have already begun shopping for a tweed jacket and a leather jacket so that I can dress in the style befitting my elevated musical tastes. And also ruin two perfectly good jackets.

13 Aug '03 09:40:17 AM

These are the records I have listened to in the past short week. (I think people should adapt historians' terms like 'short century' and 'long century' for everyday use.)

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
Glenn Gould - J.S. Bach - Goldberg Variations (1955)
Herbert - Around the House
Takacs Quartet - Bela Bartok - String Quartets 5 and 6
Miles Davis - In a Silent Way
Thelonious Monk - Live at the Jazz Workshop
John Fahey - Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes

If not for a handful of others I could truthfully say that these are the only records I've listened to for more than a long week or two.

13 Aug '03 09:31:29 AM

And also foul.