Friday, December 10, 2004

signature event context

One night, I woke up and understood the trinity. Not in the usual prosaic logical/theological way, but with a kind of natural clarity that had always eluded me. It was both exhilarating and disturbing, in an Isaiah-burning coal way, not least because I do not actually believe in the trinity. When I woke up the next day, of course, I was unable to reconstruct the revelation.

I mention this because there was a period when I really understood (or so I thought), and loved, Jacques Derrida. Having finally unpacked my books, I can confirm that, although longer than the Trinitarian, my Derridean period is over as well. For some reason, I no longer have the intellectual stamina to keep up with him. The mere fact of his difficulty has, of course, always been held against him by the non-believers, as if anything worth thinking must naturally be self-evident. It hardly seems necessary to respond to this kind of logic, except to note that the miracle of Derrida is that once you marshall the resources necessary to figure out what he is saying, his ideas suddenly become self-evident, and you can't imagine that you ever failed to share them.

For me, the chief of these was the famous connection between (identity of?) repetition and alterity. I will spare you any attempt at vulgarizing his argument (if anyone is really interested, take a stab at this, esp. under "writing and telecommunication"). Perhaps even more than writing, recorded music shows how this works, the .mp3 effacing its own origin, context, intention, every time you play it. I have no desire to argue about the radical unknowability of the other; only that, in music as in writing, the reception is structurally divorced from the intention.

And I mention this (stay with me here) because we are about to be subjected to a lot of facile bullshit about the innately violent quality of a certain musical genre, namely metal. But even if this were somehow proveable, one could certainly never show that a guitar solo, say, was capable of producing the effect it intended (if, indeed the latter could be ascertained). And therefore the very very sad murder of Dimebag Darrell is senseless. There is no meaning to it. Like Derrida's writing, Dimebag's guitar was fucking awesome, and I will miss it (all the more so because it remains accessible to my atrophied brain).

At least the Times gave Dimebag a better obit than poor J.D. (on whom, see especially Nathalie Chicha; also, his last interview, courtesy of Liz Penn in Nathalie's comments).

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