quinta-feira, 14 de dezembro de 2017

Anarchist Xmas gift: "Gilles Deleuze and the Poisoning of Beethoven"

Chili Com Carne is looking for foreigner publishers for the following book: "a" maiúsculo com círculo à volta - or is you prefer: Caps "a" with circle around. 

It's a book about music and anarchy written by renowed music critic Rui Eduardo Paes (or REP, his friendly acronym) and illustrated by various Chili Com Carne artists: Joana Pires, Marcos FarrajotaAndré Coelho, Jucifer, Bráulio Amado (also Designer of the book), José Feitor, David Campos, Daniel Lopes, André Lemos, João Chambel and Ana Menezes.

Often, and in a few cases if not abusively, Punk is identified with Anarchism. In another music areas, there's the usual analogies of the so-called "free-improvisation" with libertarian principles, even if some of the players are musicians with political and social perspectives influenced by Marxist currents such as the Trotzkism and Maoism. There are more connections between music and Anarchy that meets the eye and that's what this short book of Rui Eduardo Paes will reveal... In it, REP lists the music of norwadays like jazz, improvisation, pop-rock, noise or experimental electronics. Daniel Carter, Lê Quan Ninh, John Cage, Fela Kuti, Frank Zappa, Thom York (Radiohead) and Nicolas Collins are some of the figures portrayed by his analytical writing with philosophical dimension, often with humor and provocative thoughts has this essayist and editor of the online magazine jazz.pt is known for. Among the topics covered throughout the ten chapters widely illustrated are the occult, spirituality, science, science fiction, technology, love and sex, with reference to authors as Robert Anton Wilson, Hakim Bey, Murray Bookchin, Starhawk and Ursula K. Le Guin.

About the author: 

Rui Eduardo Paes is a rare example of something rare: a journalist whose work is as essential and informative as it is well-researched and passionate. - Dan Warburton (Wire, Paris Transatlantic)

Music critic and writer free-lancer. Chief-editor of the jazz and improvised music online magazine JAZZ.PT, after six years of editions in paper. Artistic director of the festival Jazz no Parque, produced by Serralves Foundation. Author of nine books about music mixed with multimedia, politics and queer theory. Collaborative work with Culturgest and the recording labels Clean Feed and Shhpuma. Co-founder, with Carlos "Zíngaro", of the artists association Granular, and member of its direction for 11 years, until 2013. Co-founder of the Ernesto de Sousa Fellowship (Experimental Intermedia Foundation / Luso-American Foundation / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation) and member of its permanent jury for 20 years, until the last edition in 2013. Former assessor of the ACARTE Service / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation's board of directors.

This is the first chapter, "Gilles Deleuze and the posining of Beethoven", translated in English:

We are experiencing interesting times in the history of anarchist thinking. The avant-garde in this field has gained the designation of Post-Anarchism due to having internalised contemporary critical reflections such as those proposed by philosophers in the post-structuralist school, in particular Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault.

At a time when Anarchy no longer needs to be adverse to the divine, when we may encounter a flourishing Christian anarchist movement, defending the return to a savage state, and an anarchist Paganism, with incursions into Shamanism and ritual recourse to narcotic substances, these “new persons” (as the Russian Nihilists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries first got identified with the term surviving to identify their intellectual descendants) have delighted in the discovery of occultism and all its speculative potentials.

There is thus the clear pleasure that Christian Kerslake found in one of the first texts written by Deleuze, published in 1946, when the author was just 21 years of age. This represents the preface to an obscure book written by a physician and occultist in the Romantic period, of whom we today hear so little reference, one Johann Malfatti de Montereggio, an Austrian of Italian origins.

“Mathesis: Studies on Anarchy and the Hierarchy of Knowledge” provides the title to this introduction, immediately leading to the suspicion of something other than a prior anarchist influence on the French philosopher. While the term mathesis universalis was advanced by the rationalist Descartes in order to designate a science capable of explaining everything, we may nevertheless be certain that its justifications prove platonic, theological and esoteric and it was within this scope that Malfatti applied the term.

What the author wrote and what Deleuze himself considered of “Mathesis” in this prose illuminates many aspects of his later work Anti-Oedipus, co-authored with Félix Guattari, such as the essay Difference and Repetition and the concept of a «body without organs».

The fact remains that Gilles Deleuze would never again mention Malfatti irrespective of applying the idea of mathesis in his essays on numerous different occasions. Furthermore, he did not authorise the republishing of any of the writings from his youth and a motive explaining the surprise of Kerslake. Those had remained safeguarded from the majority of readers.

Indeed, Malfatti ended up playing an important role in the secret societies of European occultism of the 19th century, among the Martinists, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, Illuminati and Theosophists. As a physician, he was a follower of the methods advocated by John Brown: all the therapies involved the administration of drugs such as opium, arsenic, camphor, wine or cinchona from Peru. It was not then rare to find, in the General Hospital of Vienna, patients in extremely advanced states of drunkenness, stumbling along the corridors or lying, prostrate in their beds…

Previously a theologian, Brown turned towards medicine after having cured the gout he suffered from through the consumption of opium. He put into practice with his patients the theory that the human organism functions through a combination of external and internal stimuli with the symptoms of any disease caused by imbalances in them. Recourse to opium simultaneously functioned as a stimulant and a relaxant for the excitability of the body.

For somebody with a contemporary perspective, this might appear strange. However, we need to take into account how two centuries ago psychotropic substances were perceived as the best of panaceas and commercially freely available and subject to prescription…

Not even the circumstances of their patients dying along the way, whether through the lack of any more effective cure or through an overdose, demotivated Brown and Malfatti from using those drugs and, as the chronicles testify, both displayed behaviours typical to drug addicts. Indeed, still furthermore, the latter became the clinic of preference for princes and the bourgeois. And also by artists: his name is now best recognised as the physician to the composer Ludwig van Beethoven than for any of his other activities. Still better: as the physician who killed Beethoven.

However, we shall get there soon enough… For the meanwhile, we need to be aware that the understanding prevailing in that period was very different to that kind of moral judgement we might hand down today. According to Schelling, the father of the then emerging natürphilosophie and also an inveterate smoker of Chinese pipes, Brown «was the first to understand the uniquely genuine principles of all the theories of organic nature». For example, those of «somnambulism» and «animal magnetism», which official medicine would later let fall by the wayside.

The «artificial fireworks» adopted by Malfatti to stimulate the «bodies without organs» has experienced the longevity that we know and encountered other defenders in philosophies of more recent influence, such as the psychedelics Timothy Leary and Terence McKenna, both, to a greater or lesser extent influenced by the anarchist movements and, hence, by Romantic occultism. Gilles Deleuze counts himself as among those radical thinkers that engaged in experiments with drugs and thus joining a list that stretches back to the post-Marxist Walter Benjamin and the anarchist Ernst Jünger in the final years of his life.

The orientalism of Leary and McKenna in the years between the 1960s and the 1980s was already present in Malfatti over the course of the years between 1790 and 1800, plunging into Hindu mysticism like few other of his contemporaries and from which he derived the notion of a «hidden anatomy» ordered according to polarities, powers and plans. Mathematical factors but from an incredibly old, stretching back millennia, metaphysical mathematics.

The name Malfatti would prove the delight of the hirsute bearded nihilists in their intentionally dirty clothing who, later, would not rule out any means to assassinate the czar of proud Russia. In every language, such is translatable as «Bad Deed» or «Badly Intentioned». Much gets discussed around what really did happen. Might the enlightened doctor have planned the death of Beethoven by poisoning, raising the dosage of arsenic in the potions he would prepare him? Might this not have been a simple accident even if foreseeable with such a dangerous medication? Might it even have been the composer himself who exaggerated in the quantities ingested?

What nevertheless remains certain is that mathesis took the life of Beethoven. He, at least so it would seem, was not actually infirm; he did however need some kind of stimulation in order to compose and this was the role played by the occultist physician. Arsenic contains aphrodisiac properties and these, when turned away from the act of sex, thus when sublimated or “transcendentalised”, generate a recognised creative potential. Beethoven was stimulated up to a level of absolute non-excitability. In a certainway, he was symbolically deposed from his conditions of genius.

The great irony to this story, which has Gilles Deleuze as its mediator, stems from how another great name in music, the Zen anarchist John Cage, sustained his entire musical theory on the negation of Beethoven. His affirmation that the latter «was wrong» has become proverbial. And he was wrong, in his opinion, because Beethoven defined sections of a composition by harmonic means and Cage not only spurned any relevance to harmony but also had a personal incapacity to deal with it.

Knowing the affinities between Post-Anarchism and science fiction as well as the fantastic literature of writers like William Burroughs, we have here all of the ingredients to imagine how Malfatti de Montereggio was mandated by a Deleuze turned time traveller through magical means, on the occasion of his death in 1995, to exterminate the person responsible for the authoritarianism of harmony in music, Beethoven. Consider how this would have made feasible the existence of a Satie, of a Webern and, of course, the inventor of the prepared piano…

The secret imposed by the post-structuralist thinker as regards his intellectual interconnections with the Italian born pre-nihilist of Vienna might, in this context, be interpreted as indicating complicity in a crime. It now remains to identify just who was the brains behind this Anarcho-esotericism driven conspiracy. Hakim Bey? For all of the consequences that we might wish to draw from this, the most mediatic of post-anarchists does have a criminal record. He is a publicly assumed paedophile.

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