Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Hauntology I

Derrida's 1993 published book 'Specters of Marx' and in particular the concept of 'hauntology' (derived from the word 'ontology' said in a French) has its roots in a quote by Marx from 1848 that a "spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of communism."

The concept of hauntology as a nature of being is an idea which inherently embeds the realm of the past in the that of the present, the ghosts of the past return to haunt us. Derrida's also draws heavily on a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet - "the time is out of joint". To steal this useful quote from Deleuze taken from this blog:

" The time is out of joint. Time is out of joint, time is unhinged. The hinges are the axis around which the door turns. Cardo [hinge of the door, the semantic root of "cardinal" numbers], in Latin, designates the subordination of time to the cardinal points through which the periodical movements that it measures pass. As long as time remains on its hinges, it is subordinate to movement: it is the measure of movement, interval or number. This was the view of ancient philosophy. But time out of joint signifies the reversal of the movement-time relationship. It is now movement which is subordinate to time. [ . . .] Time is no longer related to the movement which it measures, but movement is related to the time which conditions it." (Deleuze, Kant's Critical Philosophy, vii, 1963).

The resonance of this concept within music and 'cyberpunk' (or cultural cybernetics) more broadly has seen people like Simon Reynolds (see his blog for the backlash on the H word)and ultimately moreso Mark K-Punk theorise 'sonic hauntology'. See here for an interview with Mark Kpunk about hauntology. In terms of characteristics of cyberpunk elements of Science fiction, dystopic near future world views, ala William Gibson and the music K-Punk references juxtaposing Robert Johnson and Tricky and more recently comparing Burial to the 'new rave' movement, the sense of 'time being out of joint', a displacement of the movement-time relationship is certainly a theme with much to explore.

A symposium at the Museum of Garden History in May 2008 tackled the themes of hauntology and sound. Here is K-Punks online version of his presenation. A press release for the event can be found here.

The current state of the wikipedia entry 'Hauntology - musical genre' is somewhat weak, as the 14-tracks selection dedicated to Hauntology and subsequent commentary demonstrates much better, to call it a 'genre' is misleading and the 'sense of dread' assigned to it, oversimplifies and doesn't leave much room for the more interesting aspects to explore, especially for my purposes around the space-time-movement relationship.

The original approach of Derrida on Marx's work, especially given the historical and political situation in 1993 and as a challenge to Francis Fukuyama's End of History thesis after the events of 1989 and the 'fall of communism' in eastern europe - these uncover many more complex issues of political ideology, particular given Derrida's deconstructivist approach.

My interests lie in examining sonic hauntology as elaborated by Mark K-Punk Fischer in his writings, as an auditive aesthetic phenomenon and as a cultural cybernetic phenomenon.

The space-time continuum and time-movement relationship also brings me back to Virilio's dromologiy of media, although he never really directly addresses auditive phenomenology aside of audiovisual media, some analysis of Virlio's texts could be useful in this context.


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