Roots and Wires

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Roots and Wires :: Erik Davis (Author) - License CC 4.0 - Text :: copyright Erik Davis - Publishing House :: Rizosfera, free copyright - Series of books :: The Strong of the Future - Code Number :: SF014 - Year :: 2018 - Language :: English - Foreword :: Obsolete Capitalism

Foreword by Obsolete Capitalism Polymetric Thought and Dub Improvisation

The 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 captivating 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 signi cance of essays such as Roots and Wires that today we can nally 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's Techgnosis blog [1]
- Roots and Wires - Rizosfera pdf [2]
- Roots and Wires - Cover (Rizosfera Publishing House) [3]