". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Friday, December 16, 2011

Theory: Status, Jargon and Conflict

Jazz musicians know an enormous amount of theory. Music is the oldest theoretic discipline. And in the 19th century the European music theoreticians drove European musical practice off the cliff, as much as did the two world wars of the 20th century. European 'art' music has yet to recover from that splatter under the cliff. Theory isn't only in French, you know.

Nicked from a happy argument between a supreme theoretical anthropologist (who also does great work in the field), and a composer - musician - performer - musicologist.

May I add that the anthropologist was vastly outnumbered by the numbers of musicians in the space, though she was not out-gunned!  JS can more than hold her own, thank you.

She's our number one advisor, teacher, mentor in all things theoretical in academia. You can see where there is a conflict though. She doesn't believe there is such a thing as music theory -- fightin' words among musicians! -- which el V is actually teaching a course in this coming semester. She really wasn't aware that the arts have disciplined theoretical structures.  A terrific illustration of what the strict academic divisions we've made between technology, science, art and the humanties has lost/cost us as curious, rational and creative creatures.

This is the joy, the delight, the pure value of academia at its best -- this exercise of the mind that can take you somewhere you haven't been before.  It's the value of intellectual, analytical give and of take.

No comments: