Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A Transitional Operation: an interview with Christian Wolff

My interview with / essay on Christian Wolff, A Transitional Operation, is now up at You can find it by following this link. The piece was written for the collection Aesthetic Justice, published by Valiz: Amsterdam, 2015. Discussing the relations between music and justice, in composition and teaching, linking Cage to Plato and examining what the political importance of experimental music could be today, forty years after the activism of the seventies.

SV Do you still feel this has a kind of political – well, I won’t use the word impact, but importance? 
CW I think so, just by the fact that it’s there. I still like to talk about experimental music, even though many people would say that it’s a non-category now. These days, the formula that I come up with is that experimental music, quite apart from its actual technical procedures and all that, is a kind of music which suggests to people the possibility of change. That things don’t have to be the way they are, to the extent that the way they are is no good. So you kind of make a model, if you will.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Rituals of Contingency. Essay on Badiou, Wagner, Cage.

Theory & Event has published my essay "Rituals of Contingency" in its most recent issue. The text can also be found on, by following this link. The abstract:

Badiou’s politics stresses the need for new fictions dissociated from the Great Names of history. By contrast, his views on art remain largely historical, focusing on names, schools and oeuvres, rather than on the artistic process itself. His views on Wagner, and his ideal of a non-transcendent ritual, are contrasted with the more process-oriented, open, immanent rituals of John Cage. Intersecting the poetics of the communist philosopher with those of the anarchist composer opens the possibility of a new interpretation of the immanent ritual and new values of freedom through the notion of a contingent form of discipline.