Difference between revisions of "Hauntology"
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Latest revision as of 02:04, 1 June 2009
the paradoxical state of the spectre, which is neither being nor non-being
Buick6 Posted 10-10-2006, 10:14 AM
I just find 'hauntology' to be just a more pretentious term for good old 'ethereal' and all the offshoots of all that 4AD stuff.
Slothrop Posted 10-10-2006, 11:52 AM
I think it refers specifically to stuff that works partly by triggering half-remembered memories of other music - like Boards of Canada sounding a bit 70's kids TV or Burial with the half-obscured references to rave.
John Doe Posted 10-10-2006, 12:19 PM
Then I think you're misunderstanding what the term hauntology denotes. The phrase is coined by Derrida (not Delueze) in his Specters of Marx during which he reflects on the persistance of the concept of (utopian) revolution despite its apparent eradication from the scene of politics and history (the book is 'work of mourning' published in the early 90s after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the inaugeration of the 'end of history'). As such the concept of social and political revolution takes on a ghostly aspect - present and not present, eluding the catagorical definintion of western metaphysics, apparently erased yet still palpable in traces and echoes and uncanny visitations. Obviously, transplanting such a shadowy concept to the scene of (pop) music is no straightforward operation but as far as I can work out the concept is deployed towards a music that employs certain strategies of disinternment - a disinternment of styles, sounds, even techniques and modes of production now abandoned, forgotten or erased by history. The classic example, I think, is the music that is released on the Ghost Box label, which evokes a strain of electronic musical 'futurism' that was most notable in the 70s (but was also around before then) - the BBC Radiophonic Workshop sound of spooky analogue synthesizers etc. Listening to that music (and I must admit I haven't heard much) is like encountering a revenant - a return in figurative form of a glimpse of a future that never was, a visionary dream that was envisioned once but which slipped out of collective memory. The concept of hauntology however tends to be more loosely deployed, and in particular to music that employs samples and especially dub reggae techniques that reanimate styles and sounds that hover, suggestively, around the edges of the day to day. Such techniques foreground the 're' in recorded music and evoke the Janus-like status of music as recorded artifact, facing both backwards and forwards simultaneously, an inscripted trace that is neither presence nor absence but a spectral apparation that both referencesand eludes such binary oppositional catagories... Then again, there's every chance I might have got this completely wrong. K-punk continues to explore/expand the term in his latest posting on Little Axe which is well worth a read: http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/
being a ghost in an underdeveloped photograph
From The Clientele - Losing Haringey:
"In those days, there was a kind of fever that pushed me out of the front door, into the pale, exhaust-fumed park by Broadwater Farm or the grubby road that eventually leads to Enfield: turkish supermarket after chicken restaurant after spare car part shop. Everything in my life felt like it was coming to a mysterious close: I could hardly walk to the end of a street without feeling there was no way to go except back. The dates I’d had that summer had come to nothing, my job was a dead end and the rent cheque was killing me a little more each month. It seemed unlikely that anything could hold much longer. The only question left to ask was what would happen after everything familiar collapsed, but for now the summer stretched between me and that moment.
It was ferociously hot, and the air quality became so bad that by the evening the noise of nearby trains stuttered in in fits and starts, distorted through the shifting air. As I lay in the cool of my room, I could hear my neighbours discussing the world cup and opening beers in their gardens. On the other side, someone was singing an Arabic prayer through the thin wall. I had no money for the pub so I decided to go for a walk.
I found myself wandering aimlessly to the west, past the terrace of chip and kebab shops and laundrettes near the tube station. I crossed the street, and headed into virgin territory – I had never been this way before. Gravel-dashed houses alternated with square 60s offices, and the wide pavements undulated with cracks and litter. I walked and walked, because there was nothing else for me to do, and by degrees the light began to fade.
The mouth of an avenue led me to the verge of a long, greasy A-road that rose up in the far distance, with symmetrical terraces falling steeply down then up again from a distant railway station. There were four benches to my right, interspersed with those strange bushes that grow in the area, whose blossoms are so pale yellow they seem translucent, almost spectral; and suddenly tired, I sat down. I held my head in my hands, feeling like shit, but a sudden breeze escaped from the terraces and for a moment I lost my thoughts in its unexpected coolness. I looked up and I realised I was sitting in a photograph.
I remembered clearly: this photograph was taken by my mother in 1982, outside our front garden in Hampshire. It was slightly underexposed. I was still sitting on the bench, but the colours and the planes of the road and horizon had become the photo. If I looked hard, I could see the lines of the window ledge in the original photograph were now composed by a tree branch and the silhouetted edge of a grass verge. The sheen of the flash on the window was replicated by bonfire smoke drifting infinitesimally slowly from behind a fence. My sister’s face had been dimly visible behind the window, and –yes- there were pale stars far off to the west that traced out the lines of a toddler’s eyes and mouth.
When I look back at this there’s nothing to grasp, no starting point. I was inside an underexposed photo from 1982 but I was also sitting on a bench in Haringey.
Strongest of all was the feeling of 1982-ness: dizzy, illogical, as if none of the intervening disasters and wrong turns had happened yet. I felt guilty, and inconsolably sad. I felt the instinctive tug back - to school, the memory of shopping malls, cooking, driving in my mother’s car. All gone, gone forever.
I just sat there for a while. I was so tired that I didn’t bother trying to work out what was going on. I was happy just to sit in the photo while it lasted, which wasn’t for long anyway: the light faded, the wind caught the smoke, the stars dimmed under the glare of the streetlamps. I got up and walked away from the squat little benches and an oncoming gang of kids.
A bus was rumbling to my rescue down the hill, with a great big “via Alexandra Palace” on its front, and I realised I did want a drink after all."