thesis done!

April 21, 2010

Yes, I finished my thesis! Sorry I only put up one post about it…although in retrospect I do think that post was a fairly good indicator of where I was headed with it.

You can see the finished product here (courtesy of scribd.com).

Please feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think, if you do check it out. Thanks!

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new mix up for download

February 13, 2010

So I mixed for about an hour today and recorded the session. Not all the mixes are that clean, but I’m perfectly happy making it available for download anyway. There are some definite older gems in here, too. (And a couple records that aren’t too ancient). =]

click here (or right-click and save as…): a forgotten present

<megatech> <megatech> <megatech> <megatech> <megatech> <megatech> <megatech>


jonny l: synkronize {metalheadz)

the clipse: cot damn {arista}

juju: magia negra {breakbeat science}

livewire: the zone {big cat records japan}

cause 4 concern: sensors {c4c recordings}

delta & format: move me {reinforced}

future prophecies: electronic funk {subtitles}

technical itch vs. kemal: signal trace {moving shadow}

rymetyme / optical: shapecharge {1210}

>>>keaton & verse: redemption<<< {refuge}

keaton & hive: no hope? {refuge}

psychosis: blue skies (ray keith remix) {trouble on vinyl}

dom & roland: can’t punish me {moving shadow}

skeptic: tear {a-sides}

dune: contact (dune remix) {breakbeat science}

d-bridge: original world {exit}

        • <megatech> <megatech> <megatech> <megatech> <megatech> <megatech> <megatech>

Preliminary thoughts toward a thesis (part 1)

November 14, 2009

I’m working toward writing a thesis on the topic of the body as textuality: what is implied in the appeal to textual metaphors of the body and corporeality?

I hope to show that this way of thinking about the body – often alluded to, yet rarely (I think) theorized in depth in much post-structuralist writing – is potentially problematic, for several reasons (it may be significant that the idea of “writing on the body” is far more ubiquitous than attempts to theorize just what it means to say that the body can be (or be thought of as) text, or what this textuality of the body means – other than by pointing at the processes of its signification). It seems obvious that in general, the idea of characterizing the body as text is more or less a statement that the body is culturally constructed – that identity is performatively constituted by the way in which embodied subjects inhabit societal norms – and perhaps following from this view, that we have little or no recourse to any experience of a pre- or extra- discursive body.

Now, my intended argument is beginning to lead into dangerous territory, since I’m not too familiar with much of the literature (Blanchot, Derrida, and others, I think) on this, but it strikes me that in post-structuralist thought in general, writing is associated with absence, and to a certain degree with death (I know there’s a lot of writing on this, but if any readers have any particular suggestions on directions for further research, I would be grateful). Now, whatever particular agenda is at stake in imagining the body as text, or textuality, it seems obvious that simply figuring the body as object, as site of signification, remains problematic (Judith Butler warns of the danger of such a view perpetuating the Cartesian mind / body dualism – see Gender Trouble, 129); yet I would argue that it is precisely such a model that has most coherently emerged from such metaphorical discourse. I could be in danger of oversimplification, but it strikes me that the alleged textuality of the body points in one of two undesirable directions: either the body is objectified – rendered as mute materiality subject to the inscriptions of a power foreign to it – or else the body is figured as somehow inherently itself discursive, in which case by virtue of being primarily signification, the body’s meaning is rendered absent, and the body itself must be, in a sense, sacrificed in order to render such meaning immanent.

Foucault’s formulation of the task of genealogy – “to expose a body totally imprinted by history and the process of history’s destruction of the body” (“Nietzsche, Genealogy, History”) points clearly toward an investigative methodology and may aim for an emancipatory project vis-a-vis the body, but it does not offer a way of understanding the body in its specificity. The metaphor of the body as implicated in a process of textual inscription actually points away from the body toward something else. Butler objects to such an appeal to a body outside of discourse – and claims that contradicts Foucault’s project as formulated elsewhere – but she, too, attempts to understand the body in terms of discursive practices, practices that performatively constitute the subjectivity of bodies.

I intend to explore further Butler’s work – in particular her engagement with psychoanalytic theory and the work of Lacan in Bodies That Matter and elsewhere – in the hopes of understanding better her views of materiality and the body. But it strikes me that she, too, ends up imagining the body as a site of conflict – the power to resist hegemonic social norms lies within the discursive apparatus(es) that serve continually to produce those norms. While her theory, too, offers brilliant insight into the proliferation of societal gender (and other) norms, what, if anything, does it tell us about the body itself? Is there something about the speaking body that is paradoxical, and ultimately, perhaps, irreconcilable by theory?

My initial interest in this topic emerged from a desire to write about Kafka’s story “In the Penal Colony,” and the way writing on the body can function on power over it – that is, comes to shape the reality of the body through being made part of it. In a sense, “In the Penal Colony” enacts the ultimate confrontation between writing and the body. In the story, the writing apparatus necessarily must destroy the body upon which it writes in order to carry out its function – yet when the most outspoken advocate of the machine submits his own body to its operation of writing, not only his body, but the machine, too, is destroyed in a malfunction in which the “exquisite torture” which the commandant had intended turns into outright murder. At the surface level, the text seems to present itself as a condemnation of those processes of inscription that fix the boundaries for normative human behavior and culture; quite literally, any body that transgresses the boundaries (as delineated by the military law of the colony) is marked – to death – with the very sentence of the law it had violated, presumably thus restoring, through a spectacle of violent yet methodical (“exquisite”) force, the inviolability of the law.

And yet, as with nearly all Kafka’s writing, one can go far deeper. More to follow…

Ramallah Television

November 9, 2009

Here are two short (about 12 minute) videos on YouTube, excerpted from an Al Jazeera television show called Witness:

Witness – Ramallah TV (Part 1)

Witness – Ramallah TV (Part 2)

It is an interesting and informative look at an attempt to establish – and sustain – local and independent television media that airs programming of relevance for the Palestinian community.

a link.

September 13, 2009

quick post (because it’s 9:30 and I have to get up at five and I just found something cool): check out Corner Prophets, which seems (I haven’t had a chance to really check it yet) to be a blog about hip-hop in Israel and Palestine. This post links to a four part video interview about the Israeli / Palestinian hip hop scenes. I’ve always been curious about the presence of hip-hop on this particular cultural frontier. So here’s a chance for me to learn something – and perhaps, dear reader – for you as well.

I hope to do more research on this topic, and will try to keep updating frequently, so watch this space.

**UPDATE** take a look at http://www.dampalestine.com, the website of a Palestinian hip-hop trio called DAM, based in Lod. I’ve listened to a few of their tracks and I’m impressed. Lyrically they write well (I don’t understand Arabic, but I’ve read some lyrics on their site and watched the video for a track they released in Hebrew – which I understand – and Arabic); musically they draw their inspiration from “Arabic percussion rhythms” and “Middle Eastern melodies” as well as hip-hop influences. So pay them a visit and check out the music..

***A MUCH LATER UPDATE*** Also please check out SAZ at http://alsaz.net/

Sameh Zakout from Ramle is an up-and-coming Palestinian MC with real talent (if I am not mistaken he self-produces as well). I don’t know too much about him so I’m not going to try to say more than I know. This I do know though – Sameh is for real. He’s a highly talented artist. I’ve actually chatted with him online and he told me that after a decade he has gotten signed to a stateside label. His album is forthcoming and I know I’m definitely not going to sleep on it. Believe me this guy is going nowhere but up. You heard it from me first. Click that link and check out his music, and check the bio on his page for more info.

Incidentally there was a documentary film made about him as well. If you know more than me about Palestinian hip-hop (which would mean more or less knowing anything at all!) please drop me a line and spread the knowledge.

Stay tuned..

what I’m doing next week.

August 14, 2009

This is another one of those “write something on the blog so I give it some thought” posts.

I’m taking a week off from work – the week before school starts (well actually I quit my job, too, but that’s another story) – for pretty much the first time in the past year (not counting family events).I’m not really going anywhere, but here are some of the possible ways I might spend my time (besides staying home and doing nothing, which is the most important one):

go to Denver, check out my friend Scott‘s new place, catch up with some friends that have just recently returned from Spain, and maybe pay a visit to one of my favorite pubs

finish reading Discipline & Punish (I’m getting there), order books for school, organize / move the hell out of the way the many I already own (this includes setting aside a lot more to get rid of), and pay a visit to the Ginsburg library – maybe check out Derrida’s Acts of Religion

spend some time hanging out with my turntables (I cleaned them pretty thoroughly this week, outside and in – but I haven’t mixed much in ages). hopefully Sennheiser will ship my headphones back to me before then (I sent my HD280s to them for repairs and they very promptly shipped me the wrong ones; not talking shit because they make good stuff, but I will be happy when the proper model arrives)

practice karate more outside of class. I was on a roll for a few weeks, but then the heat and my laziness made their presence known.

figure out how to ask out girls I don’t know (I suck at this. yet it’s always the ones I don’t know that I’m most interested in). then go out and do it. (yes I have a particular person in mind)

do something to organize my room and make it look better.

get my hair cut.

try to hang out with friends at least twice, and if possible catch a DJ or some live music (in Denver needless to say)

drink cold beer on a hot afternoon.

do a lot of nothing.

YES. my vacation is going to be awesome. I just realized this list is at least 85% about me. Narcissism has its place and I welcome it.

music to check out…(a free association)

August 13, 2009

For someone that loves music and listens to all kinds of it, I am decidedly unadventurous about it. I don’t really buy music – that is, I pretty much only buy vinyl, and when I do it’s usually somewhat DJ oriented, and in any case I only really by stuff I come across in a shop or online.

So here I’m compiling a short list of music I’m interested in checking out (or maybe listening to a little bit more). I’m going to let it build for a little while; I think the results might be surprising.

I guess I’ve been listening to so much electronic stuff for a while that I need to diversify a bit. I’m going to try to represent some of the breadth of the musical styles that interest me in this list, and then hopefully I’ll develop some ideas of stuff to track down.

Although basically I think there are more or less two categories: newer releases or stuff I’ve missed in genres I’m pretty familiar with, and more obscure / indie / avant-garde stuff I’ve never really come across. Or actually that isn’t right at all. It’s that there’s some stuff I’m familiar with, but would like to become more so – like Sonic Youth or Fugazi (I know, weird examples) – and then other stuff that I haven’t really heard but know I would like to – like Kayo Dot, or Merzbow, or more J Dilla stuff since I’m always a couple years behind everyone else (these really are some strange examples).

Perhaps strangely, topping of the list (and the only artist that really comes to mind at the moment) is Angels of Light – which for those who don’t know is more or less the solo project of Michael Gira (Swans).

OK, this list isn’t going to make sense to anyone else anyway. So, yeah:

Angels of Light (I love the Swans. Gira is a genius. Gotta pick up at least one album)

Fugazi (I know – I’m way behind. I’ve only really listened to Repeater all the way through)

New Order (not as familiar as I should be. I have one of their much, much later albums)

Merzbow (I’ve only heard about one song they did with Discordance Axis. I’d be interested in hearing some of their stuff)

Swans (I already know and love ’em. But I need to summon up courage and listen to their back-catalog – like pre ’89. As well as just listen more to the rest of their stuff)

Sonic Youth (I really am not familiar with their stuff much)

Bikini Kill (never heard their stuff. I probably should)

The Replacements (never listened to them, feel like I should at least check them out)

(the direction this list is taking is really unexpected, but then I guess it’s a success)

Husker Du (I’ve listened to some of Bob Mould’s solo stuff, maybe I should add these guys in at this point – it seems apropos)

Desert Sessions (I wish I could put Kyuss on the list but I’ve listened to everything they’ve put out, really – except Desert Sessions)

Kayo Dot (I have all three Maudlin of the Well albums and love them, seen Kayo Dot play, loved them… now I just have to pick up their albums)

Discordance Axis (specifically The Inalienable Dreamless. I’ve listened to a lot of their other stuff. This is one of the only grindcore bands I listen to)

hm. I just actually contemplated adding Napalm Death to the list. I think I’m getting way off track here. Going to post this now. Look forward to future edits – and oh. Suggestions please (especially if you can recommend some good industrial. Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails are about the extent of my familiarity).

P.S. I can’t believe how much rock music is on this list. To my readers that don’t know me (and maybe even those that do) this list could be really misleading about my current listening habits. I basically listen to rock music once every two weeks (that should explain why there’s hardly anything contemporary about my list). But for my appalling ignorance there would be way more house music represented here. I need some help here. Or maybe just need to get out more.

I do want to get the new Martyn album (Great Lengths), and anything that D-Bridge releases (either by himself or on his label – there, click on the link and listen to the songs in the beatport player. that’s more the kind of stuff I’ve been listening to. oh, and even more so stuff like this, this, or this. you really should click on one or two of those.) And yeah it goes without saying: when it comes to Chain Reaction, Basic Channel, Rhythm & Sound – more. . . I just can’t get enough of it. (Discovering these labels…maybe it’s something like…I don’t know, the appropriate religious metaphor fails me.)

OK, it’s late. Enough. I’m off to sleep. Love to you all.

Glenn Beck’s site advocates denial of service attack on White House

August 11, 2009

I’ll make this a quick one – I have to get going in a minute, and don’t really want to give this sort of thing more attention than it deserves.  See the following post on the 9-12 Project page: Is Stalin’s Ghost in the White House?

(Um, by the way, dumb question. Of course, that’s exactly where Stalin’s ghost likes to hang out. He loves how Barack Obama so cleverly masks his totalitarian fascist policies as genuinely revolutionary communism.)

Great idea! Let’s all email the white house nonsensical jokes at the same time. Brilliant.

By the way, just to be clear, all this nonsense (just browse around the 9-12 Project website for 30 seconds or so) is not part of a political movement or anything (I mean, how could you even think that?). No; rather, Glenn Beck tells us that:

The 9-12 Project is designed to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001. The day after America was attacked we were not obsessed with Red States, Blue States or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the greatest nation ever created.

That same feeling – that commitment to country is what we are hoping to foster with this idea. We want to get everyone thinking like it is September 12th, 2001 again.

So, let’s send fish jokes to the White House. I mean, it probably won’t bring down their servers or anything. But at least it will annoy them. Maybe they will be reminded of that unity we all felt on September 12, 2001.**

Just remember – this isn’t political at all.

It’s about coming together as Americans.

** Funny though, I remember widespread instances of violent hate crime against Muslims and Arabs. Many people were targeted and brutally beaten – and even killed – because of their appearance, their ethnicity or religion. For Glenn Beck, there’s probably nothing political about that, either.

obscure beauty from the black sun

August 9, 2009

That title probably made this post sound more interesting than it will actually be.

I’m listening to a song off an E.P. I’ve long wanted to listen to but never had until last week: Black Sun Empire‘s Smoke E.P. on DSCI4.

The track that inspired this blog post was the title track, Smoke. Those who aren’t drum & bass heads might listen and wonder what the big deal was about, whereas drum & bass heads might contemptuously respond simply by asserting that the track is “old” (yeah…so?).

This track is a classic example of the style of tech-step pioneered by DSCI4. It doesn’t necessarily transgress the sort of general boundaries of that style, but I think it does exemplify the style almost perfectly. I love how Black Sun Empire can sit their drums perfectly in the mix; they don’t rely on ultra-compressed, distorted kick and huge snare to carry the entire dynamics of the track, but rather the breaks feel restrained. Instead of feeling cliche, as in many drum and bass tracks, the breaks occupy just enough space to provide structure and flow to what’s happening – and what is happening always involves some melodic intelligence and transition.

After thinking about it, though, I think what most impresses me about Black Sun Empire – and this track in general – is the way they integrate all the elements together in the mixdown. That careful precision of the mixing – to me – is as much an element of style as the aesthetic defined by their choice of samples, especially that definitive sounding stab…and it is this sense of controlled precision (at odds with the sort of menacing ambience so often evoked by the synths / samples they select) that more than anything else at that time evokes techno. (The sharpness of their drum samples and the uber-compressed cymbals that punctuate them have become a much more familiar trope by now, but I think this is something that Black Sun Empire really innovated in many ways).

And plus, this track does something else I love. Listen for the change in the second break right before the bassline comes back in…

This probably sounds overly technical, nerdy, and slightly irrelevant – all of which it is. But the feeling I had that prompted me to write this blog isn’t.

While I have been guilty of it as well (and so I’ll avoid polemicizing overly much), I think there is a widespread conceit (no doubt a proper direction for deconstructive critique) in our culture as I understand it, at least, that holds art – and especially music – to be something that offers an almost mystically transcendent experience…and this is especially evident to me in the way musicians are idealized, as though gifted with some prophetic or visionary insight somehow inexplicably lacking in the rest of us (from John Lennon to Bob Marley to Jim Morrison to 2Pac – not to mention Michael Jackson, there seems to be a cult of personality associated with music almost unparalled by anything else I can think of).

But great music isn’t achieved only through some intangible wellspring of creativity (and I would dispute those who idealize either this supposed “quality” or the process by which it is thought to produce the tangible product we ultimately enjoy so greatly). There is also the (much-reviled) technical knowledge – and experimentation, and innovation and yes, discipline that plays a role. When electronic music is stigmatized or marginalized, I wonder about the extent to which an aesthetic is at play that fetishizes the inexplicability of human processes of expression – and ultimately, I would argue, the human “creator” as well – as privileged agent of creativity. When what is heard is not solely or primarily the result of vibrations produced in a tactile, physical manner by human hands, feet, or breath, but mediated instead by systems of circuitry, software (and furthermore is often comprised of auditory objects already recorded), and sequencing – it would seem that for some, the media produced can no longer unreservedly be regarded as “music.”

And yet, to denigrate electronic music (usually out of ignorance – and perhaps also out of fear?) is to kill the messenger.

Now how the hell did I get on this tangent?

There’s something about the mechanization of rhythm in this Black Sun Empire track on an obscure EP released by DSCI4 in 2002 that is just lovely – and, I think, a precursor of things to come. Now, if you haven’t already, go click the link and listen to it at least once through.

DSCI4

A Specter is Haunting my IPod (or, Marx’s Capital as digital commodity)

August 6, 2009

So in other news, I have downloaded Karl Marx’s Capital, volume 1 for my iPod touch (text format with optional accompanying audio of a reader). Link here. Total cost $0.99 (I’d say I’m getting pretty good use-value in exchange for my slightly-less-than-dollar). The text could have benefited from more thorough copy-editing, since there are lots of little typos and such.

Other than that, though, I quite like the format. Because the text is divided into fairly short segments I can just concentrate on reading a little at a time (say, 10 minutes a day) – whereas reading Capital in book form would likely lead me to become intimidated or discouraged at its length and stop less than halfway through. I’ve just barely begun reading the actual text but I am already struck by the fact that Marx was pretty sharp.

(Absurdly the ending of the King Missile Song “Jesus Was Way Cool” just flashed into my mind. After several minutes of narrating in a tone of utterly sincere admiration all the way cool things Jesus did – and repeatedly asserting that yes, Jesus was way cool – the vocalist ends by concluding almost as if a new realization has dawned for the very first time: “No wonder there are so many Christians!” Struck by the clarity of Marx’s thought and presentation – well, at least so far – a similar realization is starting to dawn for me: “No wonder there are so many Marxists!”)

Anyway…I am almost losing track of all the things I am reading. But thanks to this particular commodity-form (which somehow lends itself particularly well to me reading in bed), I have no doubt that with little effort, prolonged over the next several months, I will easily make my way through the first volume of Capital. Technology is amazing…and all for just 99 cents. Amazing…no wonder there are so many capitalists =]

Oh, and don’t forget, kids:

Anyway, please check out some of the other links I’ve added to the sidebar – and stay tuned…