Roots and Wires
Rizosfera Publishing :: Series of Books «The Strong of the Future»
SF014 :: May 2018 :: Cover and Graphics – Gabriele Fantuzzi.
Where are we? The collective mindscapes we both nd and lose ourselves within seem to be rapidly mutating: the compressed “urban” density of an increasingly globalized, networked, and over-populated world; the twilight zones introduced by media saturation and the collapse of master narratives; the blurry boundary regions between identities, ethnicities, bodies, cultures; the virtual interdimensions of cyberspace. These new social and psychic morphologies demand that we reimagine space itself. Erik Davis Roots and Wires
Polymetric Thought and Dub Improvisation
by Obsolete CapitalismThe present essay by Erik Davis, written in 1996, is of extraordinary importance for our series of books and for the rhizosphere thought in general. Despite its 22 years of age, the essay still displays its keenness and foresight. If it is true that it maintains the captivat-ing vibration of the 90s, the essay of the Californian writer has great merit according to the metamatic perspective of the Strong of the Future: it enriches the Deleuzian thought with the “polyrhythmic splendour” of the Afro-diasporic cultures of the last part of the ‘90s and of the new century. To be even more explicit we can say that after Guattari (1992) and Deleuze’s (1995) death, the scholars’ approach to rhizospheric thinking was running the risk to crystallize in a rigid and textual reading of the pages of A Thousand Plateaus and, above all of 1837 Of the Refrain. The consequence was that the musical discourse seemed to be mummified in French itineraries of the French-German direct relationship among Proust, Schumann, Wagner, Schoenberg, Berg, Mahler, Boulez, Stockhausen, Messiaen, with the only “correction” brought by the hegemonic musical approach of the ‘60s and ‘70s: the relationship between improvisation, alea, and contemporary Western music. It was represented by the American wave of Cage and of minimalists like Reich, Riley and Glass, extended up to the Italian composers Bussotti, Nono and Berio. However in 1837 Of the Refrain, the “unsaid” and the “unheard” is represented by the explicit lack of references to polymetric and polyrhythmic minor music, in particular of those rhythms and sounds from the vast world of black culture, both African and American. Not to mention the lack, in A Thousand Plateaus, of another great non-European musical tradition, including Indian and Middle Eastern Arab music. Finally the complete lack of all musical experimentation out of the academic tradition, generically represented by the non-mainstream pop and by the Western underground music like the electronic music in its various forms, increases the danger of a premature ageing and drying of A Thousand Plateaus. Deleuze and Guattari’s new concept of rhythm, repeated by the first wave of commentators, is then very European, white, masculine, academic and elitist. It will be only in the 1990s, that Achim Szepanski, Kodwo Eshun and Erik Davis will update the minor sound lines with the revolutionary nucleus of rhizomatic thought, that is to say the philosophy of Rhythm and Chaos in A Thousand Plateaus. In particular, the anti-Cartesian and anti-Ordo Geometricus axis of Erik Davis’ essay offers an excellent rhythmic counter-tempo between Deleuze and Guattari’s thought and the “polyrhythmic splendour” of contemporary music “against the beat” such as dub and drum and bass. It redefines a new language, a real sonic esperanto, that is a new underground urban axis, between rough metropolitan dimensions, afro-diasporic rhizomatic lines and polymetric, polyrhythmic African music. It is therefore thanks to the revolutionary significance of essays such as Roots and Wires that today we can finally draw a powerful abstract line passing through Deleuze, Nietzsche and Guattari’s chaosmotic philosophy, Glissant and Gilroy’s Creole and Caribbean intellectuality, the ground-breaking minor electronic music of a cyber globalized world, and the rich, ancestral rhythmical heritage of traditional Western African cultures. Erik Davis’s essay paves the way to a new form of non-metric thought, which we consider the prelude to new modes of existence, as outlined in the chaos-opera Chaos Sive Natura, in favour of non-pulsed men and times…
Erik Davis was born during the Summer of Love within a stone’sthrow of San Francisco. He grew up in North County, SouthernCalifornia, and spent a decade on the East Coast, where he studiedliterature and philosophy at Yale and spent six years in the freelance trenches of Brooklyn and Manhattan before moving to San Francisco, where he currently resides. He is the author of four books: Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica(Yeti, 2010), The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape (Chronicle, 2006), with photographs by Michael Rauner, and the 33 1/3 volume Led Zep- pelin IV (Continuum, 2005). His rst and best-known book remains TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information (Crown, 1998), a cult classic of visionary media studies that has been translated into five languages and recently republished by North Atlantic Press. He has contributed chapters on art, music, technoculture, and contemporary spirituality to over a dozen books, including Suzanne Treister’s HFT: The Gardener (Black Dog), Future Matters: the Persistence of Philip K. Dick (Palgrave), Sound Unbound: Writings on Contemporary Multimedia and Music Culture (MIT, 2008), AfterBurn: Re ections on Burning Man(University of New Mexico, 2005), Rave Ascension (Routledge, 2003), and Zig Zag Zen (Chronicle, 2002). In addition to his many forewords and introductions, Davis has contributed articles and essays to a variety of periodicals, including Bookforum, Arthur, Artforum, Slate, Salon, Gnosis, Rolling Stone, the LA Weekly, Spin, Wired and theVillage Voice.