Animals, Music, Vibration

So, I’m going to start with a weird story and then pose it in relation to the reading of Grosz’s Chaos, Territory, Art.

While I was reading section 2 in Grosz, I started thinking more literally (materially) about my relationship with my cat. I began to think back on the time I first brought her home and she was frightfully scared having been an abandoned kitten. She would cry for seemingly no reason, and I couldn’t think of a way to calm her down so one day I buried my face in her side and began humming to her. Soon she started purring in response then calmed down and fell asleep. Later on as my relationship with her developed, I noticed that when I would whistle the same tune she would respond by calling back to me which eventually lead to her nuzzling me.

This summer (2 years later) when I began moving around quite a bit, she would become very agitated at the ‘chaos’ of each new place we would stay and would even hide from me. To help her feel more comfortable I employed the whistling/humming of the song and each time she would recognize the sound and respond to the familiarity of the situation.

So, what does all this have to do with the readings… well, I realize I’m taking Grosz too literally perhaps in how she is using certain terms, but I feel like the use of sound in my relationship to my cat is reflective of some of the theoretical contributions Grosz is making about music. For example, through the use of the refrain, that is the repetitive nature of the humming and “a kind of rhythmic regularity” (52), my cat understands that I am attempting to begin, in a way, to territorialize our surroundings. Then she responds in kind with her own vibrations (her purring) which creates the possibility of the territory or milieu. For her, the confines of spatiality were not as important as the recollection of the past in our relationship which enabled her to express her comfort in her interactions with me in our ‘musical frame’.

I don’t know if the concepts in her book are capable of being extrapolated so directly, but thinking through it this way helped me to grasp the way that every body interacts with another body in a way that allows for the development of certain relationships (e.g. the spider and the fly). I did not have a reason to hum to my cat except that I thought it would be similar to the sound of a mother cat addressing her young, and she did not have to respond to me except that she found some intensity in the sensation of my humming.

So, outside my most direct interpretation of her work, what other ways can we understand relationships in regards to music and territory?

Some Interview Responses I Recently Gave…

The questions were about our perception of identity based on our ethnicity, home and community.

1)   ‘Midwestern’ White by some accounts; Southern Ohioan by others; Great Lakes-ian by my own accord

2)   I feel that as a white male, to suggest that I have an ethnic identity or to be more generative and create a history for my ‘ethnicity’ would be perceived as a racist moment in trying to claim something for myself that was created for/by marginalized groups for resistance purposes

3)   Home isn’t a very meaningful concept to me; I’m not even fond of the word. I think that for me a better word is  ‘shelter’. I think that I feel sheltered in the presence of my cat and with my friends and those I identify as my family. Shelter is more mobile, whereas home whether it is mobilized still implies a moving static whereas shelter is always dynamic.

4)   Community again I think has too much literal baggage of being communal or common. I think a better word than community is association. Whereas community often implies a positive connotation, association demonstrates a more neutral reaction so that I can be associated both with groups I choose to interact with and those to which I have been assigned.

5)   The associations that I am a part of include the human species, a resident of California, a resident of La Mesa, a resident of La Mesa Gardens, internet bloggers, video game player, athlete, sports fan, friend to people in Kent, OH, friend to people in West Virginia. I am an Ohioan. I am a son. I am a Colley.

6)   Briefly, I have chosen at least somewhat to play games, sports, and watch TV. I have chosen the friends I have kept although I was limited by the structures of the environments of grad school. I have chosen to come to San Diego State although I had few choices after Kent. I have chosen to remain a son though it was not a choice I originally made. I maintain my last name and therefore my relations to those people but do not necessarily feel related to my relatives.

7)   The most important parts of my identity are thought, emotion, and interaction. As long as I am a member of thoughtful relationships then I can see myself as intellectual and interesting. If I maintain these thoughtful relationships then I am capable of engaging in more deep emotional ones. And if I am capable of releasing my emotions then it is more likely I would be able to increase my interactions with more and more people, places and things.

Week 5 in SDSU Geography and Art Class – 09/28/09 – Supplemental Discussion

Comments from classmate:
On page 123, “Simmel’s overall view offers us a suggestive starting point for rethinking fashion on the realm of emotion. His assertions, however, stop short, for he affirms the emotional, liminal power of fashion but ultimately locks it into a form of compensation.” Is this the first time that Bruno has mentioned “emotion?” I am puzzled. I expected Atlas of Emotion to be an exploration of emotions inspired, instilled and spent, but I don’t recall reading about these. Did I miss the descriptions of emotion in the context of architecture and film? I can’t find the purpose of the book other than her own travelogue of adventures sitting in the theatre; where is the emotion? or even a reaction?

My response:
I felt like Bruno’s understanding of emotion was based on this statement:

Cinematic space moves not only through time and space or narrative development but through inner space. Film moves, and fundamentally “moves” us, with its ability to render affects and, in turn, to affect. (7)

So, her argument then is not about emotions as ‘feelings’, but rather emotion as change and movement. And movement not necessarily in direction but instead through re-territorializations of ourselves which may or may not be accompanied by the more popular notion of emotion as feelings.

IDK, that’s just my thought though.

Week 5 in SDSU Geography and Art Class – 09/28/09

Bruno explains that “[f]ilm, the serial image, is made equal to the android, the serial body; they are both mechanical doubles — products of the same mechanical dream of reproduction” (22).

Quoting Lefebvre, Bruno states “architecture produces living bodies, each with its own distinctive traits. The animating principle of such a body, its presence, … reproduces itself within those who use the space in question, within their lived experience” (30).

She continues, “the changing position of a body in space creates both architectural and cinematic grounds. This relation between film and the architectural ensemble involves an embodiment” (56).

So… if I am reading through these excerpts correctly, film produces a reproduction of our bodies/lives/spatial practices, but through the geographies (architectures) of film and film space, these bodies become unique and then reproduced within the ‘spectator’ thus changing her or him. In that moment, the relationship between spaces and images become embodied in the spectator and re-articulated upon our bodies and the way we are inhabiting and consuming the film and the architecture.

Maybe… I dunno. I like the quotes anyway…

Since I started with her reference to the film Blade Runner, I will then ask in response to my mini-argument/discussion: do androids dream (of electric sheep)? If ‘replicants’ – films and androids – are bodies, then do they not have a life of their own outside of our understanding them? Then is our way of interpreting them a connection of multiple bodies creating a new body/space/image or assemblage? So much so that not only is the spectator changed, but the film and the architecture are as well?

Maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about…

Weeks 3 & 4 in SDSU Geography and Art Class – 09/14/09 and 09/21/09

Week 3:
My interest is primarily in the opening of Cosgrove’s work when he sets forth his discussion of the way we imagine ourselves in the universe. I feel his discussion fits well with King’s interest in the confinement of sense, but I believe that King’s conclusion strays from Cosgrove’s point about expanding our anthropocentrism.

What I am considering basically revolves around Cosgrove’s assessment that “[w]hile we may have decentered the human creature from the contemporary cosmos, images [. . .] reflect a continuing apprehension that organic life more generally holds a special place in existence” (Cosgrove 2008: 44). King offers a similar sentiment suggesting that when we imagine our adventures, we wish only to venture into those places where human existence is held to such a high degree that we are protected from the outside world.

In considering the implications these comments have on popular science fiction (or, ‘extra-terrestrial geographies’) it is striking to think of the way that almost every world in Star Trek is an “M-class” planet in which human life is sustainable or at least possible. However, this is not limited merely to the geographical imagination of Gene Roddenberry, Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox; it is, instead, a staple of the way in which media imposes the priority for human survival on the exploration of ET spaces. Perhaps this is a function of a need for mediated sources to connect with the consumer, or perhaps it is more closely related to “our” fundamental lack of vision when imagining those spaces to which we have not traveled.

If we consider it from the latter perspective, then Cosgrove’s points about landscape painting and other forms of artistic expression become equally relevant to motion picture and television media. Essentially, whatever form of media we use to convey images of ET spaces, we still find a need, desire or socialized ‘apprehension’ to configure those imagined spaces in the representation of spaces already familiar to us. And, unless I am reading King incorrectly, I do not agree that this is necessarily a good thing. I believe that if we are to confine ourselves primarily in the perspective of the dwelling, we will rarely find a way to comprehend the possibilities inherent in “unrealized realities” (Kemper 2003); those variations in space-time that do not confine themselves to the perspective of human existence.

Kemper, David. “Unrealized Realiy”. Farscape. 2003

Week 4:
Are works of art always a reflection of “whatever people’s produced them”?

Does this take the experimentation and expression out of artistry?

I really like this quote and thought: “[c]onceptually, the map has often either preceded the physical presence of the city or served to regulate and coordinate its continued existence” (Cosgrove 2008: 169).

Is it possible to make this more generic and suggest that conceptually, the image (or imagination) precedes material existence and then helps to shape it’s continued presence? If so, then is the imagination also in turn re-shaped by the physical presence?


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