It’s officially the dawn of a new calendar year, and, against all odds, actually cold in Austin. So, it seems as good a time as any to stay indoors and send out my first update of 2017. I have another fundraiser pitch to discuss with everyone, but first let’s talk about some genuine productivity.
The Taste of Sound
On the sonic arts front, I have a new brainstorm to host a combination culinary event and music concert here within Austin (or elsewhere…contact me if you are considering doing anything similar in your own place of residence). Since I’ve written a great deal about how under-valued the “chemical senses” (taste, smell) are in forming an enlightened view of the world, I feel it may be time to demonstrate some possible ways of using the dining experience to make so-called experimental or avant-garde music literally more “palatable”. This idea is still in what I’d call the “cartoon lightbulb appearing over my head” phase, but I do have at least some skeleton of a concept to flesh out over time. I hope to have performers appear who will collaborate with culinary pros to make a multi-course menu for the evening, which will take about as much time to prepare, serve, and enjoy as the musical performance will take to play out.
This will all be carefully choreographed and hosted in a venue (still to be determined, obviously) that will be able to provide both adequate sound reinforcement and a great atmosphere for dining. My hope is that, whether this is a standalone performance or a “series,” it will be able to take the interaction between culinary and sonic art beyond the state in which one form merely acts as the passive sensory framing for the other, but in which the common ritualistic aspects of both forms are heightened by presenting them together.
Ne Plus Ultra update
While I wait for the distribution of To Hear The World With New Eyes to commence in earnest, I am making some headway on one of my two (!) other books in progress. As I might have mentioned before, I’m working together with my Spanish partner to translate a number of my texts into Español under the title Ne Plus Ultra (I’m also going to be conducting completely new interviews and writing new essays to enrich what we have already). The common theme of the book is that of “extreme” culture, and what exactly that elastic phrase means to whom. My ambition is to map this concept out as fully as possible within the covers of a 300+-page book, and to share important insights about the differences between “extreme” culture as simply a different flavor of conformity, and “extreme” culture as a real engine of meaningful change.
I feel like I’ve already made some headway towards this goal in my previous books, particularly my studies of sound cultures (noise, onkyo etc.) that strive to communicate something unique by relying on minimum of maximum values of information and sensory impact. Some of my more recent writing on video art, architecture, the writing of J.G. Ballard also fit this bill, and will in fact be included in the new book. I’m also going to be touching upon issues such as communication technology, high-speed transportation and performance genres like standup comedy that I haven’t explored enough previously.
“Secret history of pre-fabbed buildings” update
I am still trying to get a strong start on my newest English-language book, which will deal with the cultural history of pre-fabricated buildings in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. I have sent out a number of emails to arts institutions and individuals in Russia, which I felt would be very helpful in the process of mapping out the book and in providing a larger pool of contacts to interview. Oddly enough, many of these mails have been bounced back to me undelivered, and I’m left wondering if that has anything to do with the ongoing enmity of the U.S. political class towards Russia (if there is one article I can recommend that cuts to the core of the American establishment’s dangerously stupid agitation of its nuclear-armed scapegoat, it would be this one by Glenn Greenwald). Whatever the case, I’ll continue with outreach efforts and keep everyone updated.
As I’ve been alluding to in previous posts, things are not looking good now as far as my ability to support myself. I won’t go into any more detail about this here, but I do urge you to please take a look at my fundraiser page and share it with anyone who might be interested. As I mention on that page, I want to take advantage of this current “downtime” to do truly interesting things that will strengthen bonds between myself and my supporters, not to simply accept donations and to let my commitment end with a simple (albeit sincere) “thank you”. I’m cautiously optimistic that my current state of hardship won’t be long, but it will be just long enough to be in a justifiable state of panic over the affordability of housing here in Austin. Please help spread the word!