Monday, November 26, 2007

recent reads

  • Resistance is Surrender: Slavoj Žižek is lucid and on the mark as usual (in the LRB):
    Shouldn’t the Left draw a distinction between the circumstances in which one would resort to violence in confronting the state, and those in which all one can and should do is use ‘mocking satire and feather dusters’?
  • Roscoe Mitchell's Wolf Tones: Brian Morton (of Penguin Guide to Jazz fame) has an insightful career overview (in The Nation; subscription required, contact me for details); from the penultimate paragraph:
    Like most exploratory artists, Mitchell prefers the forward glance to the retrospective and fears repeating himself. But even in this most formally conceived of performances, he has managed to bring together elements that have been part of his work from the beginning: pure sound, sound that obeys or resists hierarchical organization, rhythm as fundamental rather than embellishment, improvisation not as a gone-in-the-air end in itself but as an inseparable element of the composition process, composition as a dynamic rather than an ossifying procedure, passion, cerebral abstraction, a sense that musical "meaning" is always subject to slippage. Multi-instrumentalism has only enlarged and enhanced his playing personality rather than obscured it; at base, Mitchell's only "instrument" is sound itself.
  • Pious Populist: Abbas Milani's Boston Review piece is more than just a biopic on Ahmadinejad, it's the most thorough-going discussion historical contextualization of Iran's geopolitics I've read in a while.

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