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FleshFactor: 431-5569, NO AREA CODE

A E C  F O R U M - "F L E S H F A C T O R"
"_..opera has no original, but rather originarily happens as the work
of translation with out origin.  opera is not about the generation of
one form into another; it cannot assert an organic totality, a kind of
transcendental unity of its disparate forms.  this is not to say that
opera did not dream such a totality of its parts or desire an origin. 
you cannot establish with certainty whether the music precedes the
text or whether it goes the other way around: which is why opera opens
the great politics of contamination."
             Avital Ronell,  Finitude's Score.

[4] fundamental concepts have governed my life, the first of which is that
the God of my understanding communicates, you might say manipulates,
through the media. This is personal, you understand. I don't suggest it's
necessarily true for you, but the fact that you're reading this could be
an argument one way or another.  Let's see....primarily it's been books,
occasionally a movie, less often, or maybe less obviously, TELEVISION,
which I assume is because you can't really package TV discreetly. There
are resonant moments of course, ("He doesn't want anything, he's insane"),
as you can imagine things have gotten rather strange since I subscribed to
the New Yorker and got hooked on THE INTERNET. 

[3] weeks ago I started reading this book "RUA/TV? Heidegger and
the Televisual" which I picked up while I was SURFING THE LIBRARY,
something I've been doing since I was about six or eight, which
curiously enough was about the same time that TV came to the remoter
suburbs of Seattle where I was diligently trying not to grow up. 
Anyway I liked the title which I idiosyncratically assumed was
supposed to call up some harmonic of RUR, and like a lot of books it
started off pretty cool, which if you're an American you have to
imagine any Australian reading of Heidegger published by the Power
Institute of Art would be, I even SCANNED A FEW PAGES for future use,
but also like a lot of theory books it got pretty forced pretty fast,
so I put it away and started looking at "Postmodern Sexualities." 

[1] of the things about a real University library is that you can find
an aisle per floor DEVOTED TO SEXUALITY considered in discipline
specific realms and if you hit the right floor, five or six shelves on
the postmodern variety.  This one was a paperback so I confess it was
initially the cover art that attracted me.  Beyond that I have the
memory that the author was from Oregon, which is close to Seattle, but
on checking back I see it's Houston, which while geographically
slightly closer to Seattle than Syracuse, is climatically less
related.  Still it had some interesting stuff like "_all discourses
about sexuality are inherently discourses about something else_" and
vice versa I say.....but despite my overall enthusiasm for an ex-Kinsey
worker who may be in the process of coming out of the closet, I found
the writing unbearable; what are you supposed to do with sentences
like: "The politics of sexual penetration, raising, as they do, the
gestures of dominance and submission, the postures of control and
permission, make of sexual engagement an optimally accessible staging
area for both licit and illicit, both probable and improbable
enactments of the politics of interpersonal relationships.  The realm
of the Phallus is the realm of social power," but steal what you can
use in later lectures while keeping in mind that it's a lot more fun
to say "postmodernity" than to write it, and go back to TV.

[5] "Five Myths of Television Power," another catchy title particularly
for the Foucault fans but you'd be misinformed because basically the
author's points are that TV isn't all that bad, but we get off on
thinking that it's worse, an overall dated concept which is rendered
interesting only his REFUSAL TO ACCEPT ANY DATA on anything
including, how may hours per day we watch TV, where do these figures
come from, are they more or less reliable than the reported number of
masturbatory fantasies  involving same sex partners; but while the
style here was readable, in the targeted for the average playboy
reader sense of readable, the argument amounted to: "I don't have
anymore facts than my opponents but by restating my opinions several
hundred times I can appear for the moment more credible that what you
thought you knew when you started reading; boredom set in not too far
from the table of contents.....fortunately I was saved from proceeding
to "The Scent of Eros," an apparently over researched treatise on sex
and scent, by the timely arrival of a post card form the library
telling me that my recall was in.  

[5] years ago, more or less, Tom Sherman gave me a copy of "The Telephone
Book," by Avital Ronell, which I actually read more than half of, a
testament to obsession right up there with "Gravity's Rainbow" and
"Infinite Jest." It's either that I like reading Avital, or that I have a
predilection for fantasies I have about her, nothing detailed or specific
you understand, but she's always wearing something severe and, you know,
black. I can't figure out whether this indicates that I'm TURNED ON BY
INTELLIGENCE, or a victim of a desire to debase intelligence, but it does
make me think that there is some connection between mind and body, as in
"Hey kids, What Time is it?....It's Trauma Time," which sets up in my
personal experience of the universe as a direct link between the chakras
of Buffalo Bob and Brigitte Bardot, and not simply that the first BB
evolved into Annette and Doreen on the Mickey Mouse Club and the latter
started with "And God Created Woman" wound up with "The Origin of the
World" setting up some correlation between the good breast which you could
see in black and white thus guaranteeing an acceptably moral intellectual
content and our dirty little secret; all of which gets problematized when
you get back to Buffalo Bob because as Avital points out, "Television is
always related to the law to metonymies of the law and the law always to
power".....which is to say that being somewhat smart, at least art-movie
smart, gave you the material for masturbation, but also the doubly bounded
guilt of whacking it over "The Seventh Seal", which in part explains why
we get, if not need, several shelves of the SEXUAL CONFUSIONS OF
POSTMODERNITY; naturally I started reading her last bit about TV first,
then thought maybe I should see where this starts, which turns out to be
Opera, so Catherine Clement makes her appearance,

[6] months ago I tried to force a body of undergraduates to read
Clement, another failed initiative in pedagogy, in part because we
were supposed to be studying Television but more because I was trying
to get them to read a whole book about Opera. Clement has always been
blonde for me, maybe not as much challenge as Avital, but quite
possibly more fun...and as you might expect Avital displays a bit of
hostility, but she does make things clearer for the slow
reader/learner, among whose happy community I count myself, the idea
being that the undone one in Opera's not so happy couple is the music
which may be one of the voices that Cavell had in mind with his pitch
of philosophy; it's odd that Cavell never seems to come up for Avital
even when she's writing about Television, maybe we're tuned to
different frequencies, in the same way that you're probably wondering
what any of this has to do with THE FLESHFACTOR.  Think of it as a kind
of interference, Noise, a ghost channel running to the side of the
main program, in the same way that Avital's homme, homo, home runs for
WHATEVER NATION YOU'RE READING THIS IN, effecting its intent quite nicely
with or without your particular attention.

[9] times out of ten saying what you mean and meaning what you say
are quite different things.  We should pay attention though to what
evolves and what doesn't; attention to what we want to say, if saying
is the right concept, or to what music needs making and what it will
mean or accomplish to make or listen to it; perhaps the science, in
the sense of a particular system of organization, of intellect is a
false step in the syncopated dance whose ineluctable modalities (words
more fun to write than say) carry us toward the millennium, because I
have to wonder how much difference it would make to our environment if
Dan Rather and Jane Pauley had read every book I've hinted at or
mentioned and all the books referenced in those books.  The thing is,
I can imagine Rather reading Heidegger and Pauley with her copy of
Lacan; I think I'd be more comfortable, more at home in the world if I
couldn't, but for the moment that's the way it is and we are left only
with a number (431-5569) but as yet NO AREA CODE.

Donal Little

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