Thursday, 9 April 2009

How the Future Used to Sound

"Noise is triumphant and reigns sovereign over the sensibility of men."

The intonoromuri is an instrument created by futurist Luigi Russolo. It functions by vibrating a piece of catgut or metal string. The operator (or 'noisician') cranks the internal wheel by a handle on the rear, varying the pitch by the speed of cranking and by a topmounted switch which alters the tension of the string. The vibrations are amplified through a frontmounted speaker. A large variety of sounds can be produced, depending on the initial design of the instrument and its internal diaphragm.

27 different kinds of intonarumori were created, named according to the kind of sound they produced. Examples of these are:

  • Gracidatore (the Croaker)
  • Crepitatore (the Crackler)
  • Stroppicciatore (the Rubber or Scraper)
  • Scoppiatore (the Burster)
  • Sibilatore (the Whistler)
  • Gorgogliatore (the Gurgler)
  • Ululatore (the Howler)
  • Ronzatore (the Hummer)

As well as buzzers, thunderers, exploders, rattlers and roarers.

Taking as his starting point the apparent orchestrations of everyday urban life he sought to emulate the "crashing down of metal shop blinds, slamming doors, the hubbub and shuffle of crowds, the variety of din from the stations, railways, iron foundries, spinning mills, printing works, electric power stations and underground railways". This emulation is one that could only take place - indeed only make sense - in the twentieth century.

He first performed with his intonarumori in 1913 but the public had to wait until 1914 to savour its unheard sound. The performance was almost halted by police worries that, having experienced the afternoon rehearsal, it would likely cause a riot.
Sadly all the original intonarumori were lost or destroyed during the second world war.

Luigi Russolo's six families of noise according to which he designed the individual intonarumori:

Hissing Roars
Noises obtained by beating on:)
(Voices of animals and people:)

A better Explanation of the Fallacy of Solipsism

After my last entry was published on MySpace I was asked to explain further my reasoning with regard to solipsism. I also realise I wasn't very clear ion expressing my ideas, so hopefully this will give a clearer picture.

Solipsism rests on a subject-object ontology. It depends on 'I' being here on one side, interacting with, experiencing, the 'World' on the other side. This articulation of life is what leads into the problem of solipsism. In fact, it seems the fallacy of solipsism itself makes apparent the flaws in this conceptual approach to life. If life can be made to present this problem then the criteria we are approaching it through must be wrong.

The correct approach is to see 'the world' as not something out there in opposition to the 'in here' of the conscious self. The self happens, occurs, through the world. It is not 'in' the world. 'Life' is a network which includes and is constituted by different levels of interplay and relationships. 'Life' is not a category within material reality, material reality is a category within Life. Likewise, objects and subjects do not exist 'in' a Real System: a System articulates itself into objects and subjects. To say 'Life' is much the same as to say consciousness, for this is the sine-qua-non, that which must be the principle axiom of any discussion (even though in discussions about truth and reality we often forget that reality is only reality subject-to-consciousness).

This may be tricky to explain due to the way we are taught to think of the world. But the world is 'shot-through' with consciousness. Nowhere can we point to something and say "that is independent of consciousness". What of a stone? Well, how is it that we see it? It occurs as an element of a conscious, sensory panorama. It is embraced, enabled by, the world of consciousness. Consciousness is not 'in' me, passively apprehending the inert non-conscious world. We are a system. 'I' am a category within this conscious panorama just as the stone is. We both 'exist' (to the extent that we do exist, that we are manifest in form), by virtue of, as aspects of, a cohesive holistic system. It is only by analysing that we fragment the system into parts and claim they are independent and singular entities in themselves. It is by this process that we assign consciousness as a predicate of individuals, instead of seeing individuals (and all 'things') as a predicate of consciousness. It is by this process that we create the notion of an 'ego' which then separates itself from the 'world' and begins to wonder whether the world it is part of actually exists at all.

Stupid really, but then no one said the ego was clever.

The Problem with Solipsism

It is possible to translate life into a question of solipsism; that is, we can interpret all the day-to-day events of living in such a way that they pose the question,

"is there an external world to my sensations?"

We can push and pull life into making this seem a valid question. But to do so is really a misuse of our powers of interpretation. It is in fact not a valid question. We misunderstand the source data when we try to frame it into a question like this. Just like asking "what is a question?" and expecting there to be a sensible answer is a misuse of language, even though it may seem valid and logical when posed. Life, like a question, is a doing. To look for set meaning, facts, an underlying structure, is not a valid endeavour. To understand the living of life as phenomena, as a surface appearance to which there either is or is not a "real" causal substrate is to misinterpret the action of living life and being conscious.

It should be understood: we can interpret "I am walking" as "it feels as though I am walking", thus presenting the question of whether I am actually walking or not. But this creates a divide in the middle of life which is not present until we begin, after the facts, analysing and misinterpretting, and thereby drag life away from the normal patterns of thought. The differentiation of sensation and actuality is one not based in life, but in human analytical thought. Life is an activity. The problem occurs when we start analysing the activity and attempt to define it with too strict certitude according to granular criteria; then we are mistaken from the outset in imposing the forms of abstract human reason onto something not created according to those criteria. The truth of life is in the doing and partaking of its functionality.