Dark Utopias: Music and Minor Literature


I have a general interest and some actual stake in the idea of a minor literature– Henri Gobard's Marxist sociolinguistics filtered through the conceptual lens of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari– and the application of all of this to music. And I'll assemble something of an introduction from what I've found in D&G's Kafka: toward a minor literature and Gobard's L'aliénation linguistique (no translation available, you get the idea).

A minor literature refers to the body of work of a minor [obscure, strange, estranged] artist within a major [dominant] language. (Minor in this case taking on all dark and obscure shades and shifts of meaning.) D&G center their study on Franz Kafka, the Czech writing in German (that is, not Czech, you can read about it here). But I find a musical analogue that fills a lexical need (sure, at the same time obfuscating... but I like that sort of thing) and helps me describe what happens when I hear Eugene Hütz or Philip Glass or Anton Webern. There's something wrong with the way they speak that circles around this invisible hand of the dominating language. A minor expression is, perhaps self-evidently, a collective one (D&G say this): a shout from the margins, the photo-negative of the sole genius, creator. 

D&G start off wondering "how to enter the work." There is no privilege, no path, no meaning like you'd find on the last paragraph of an airport book. Then I thought about Twitter. 

— But let's be serious(it.?). —

We know when robots are speaking to us and this is how. It is at the surface a question of our own perceptual fluency, an invisible fluency. But it's more than that: it is not solely a problem of perception of difference, it is what the difference in this case represents. A minor expression is an expression of discontent. (We haven't even at this point abstracted ourselves out of music.) A minor expression is underground, a refugee camp. It is dark, exists confined to a crevice in prevailing attitudes. In the case of botspeak, it's a broken down prosody that approaches a language of force and speed: they (them), they act like a mirror reflecting what we've termed 'self' or 'personality' in awkward semblance. It now assumes a frightening sobriety. (It's a mirror the same as a pool of water: there's no negotiating from in between, which is what makes the Jaws poster so terrifying.)  These things that talk to us, answer our questions, and set our alarms allow us to see them as benign little slaves. That's the thing with minor expressions, we (you know, we) start out seeing them (of they) as something trivial or stupid, and then... 

It's interesting is all. 



An interesting case study in talking to machines.