Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Trial of Adorno

"I really must protest, your honour. Digging up my corpse in order to make me stand trial smacks of a medieval attitude towards ideas. The last time this happened was when a Catholic group of heretics reclaimed the body of a dead pope..."

"Mr Adorno, since when did you object to heretical behaviour? You are here to answer the accusation that, through your work, you established an idea of the avant-garde that subscribed to a traditional discourse of art, and privileged the Western Classical Canon. Plus, you were a bit of a racist."

"Objection. Adorno's dislike of jazz and popular music was based on an anxiety that they pandered to audiences, not that they were rooted in any particular racial community."

"Can you explain his rejection of Charlie Parker or Miles Davies without at least wondering why he failed to notice their commitment to rigorous experimentation?"

"If I may speak for myself. You are presenting me with this Mr Goodiepal as an example of how my own enthusiasm for the composition of Stravinsky failed to acknowledge the future possibilities of experimental music. 

Goodiepal's definition of his role - he is an academic and writer, a composer and a philosopher - undeniably fits in with my vision of the erudite musician. That he works in an area that happened after my death hardly negates my position. Could I have been expected to predict the growth of electro-acoustic music? I popped off before Kraftwerk formed."

"But did you not champion the atonal outbursts of the serialists?"

"I am a Marxist. Wouldn't you expect me to like a musical scale in which all notes are equal?"

"But by using electronics, Goodiepal engages with the technology that dominates our lives. By, shall we say, dancing with it, he suggests an alternative practice for us to live with the machines that are becoming our soulless overlords?"

"His altruism is immense. He gave away his goods, and cash. That is not composition, it's conceptual art. And it protects the capitalism model of charity. He is taking cues from Jesus, that old conservative, not Marx. He's the heretic here."

"By defining heresy, Mr Adorno, you recognise your position as the orthodoxy. And that is what we are here to prosecute."

"I wish you'd stop putting words in my mouth."

"Well, until I get access to the University library, don't expect much in the way of footnotes. I'm doing this from memory."

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