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Frank Brickle & TE Hulme

Frank Brickle & TE Hulme

12 February 2022 / William Anderson / Announcements, Compositions, How to Talk about Music

Frank Brickle is now, I believe, working on setting The Compete Poetical Works of TE Hulme. This is a worthy project that must be seen to completion.

One of the features that webmaster Marc Wolf set up on this blog is “categories”. One category I included was, “how to talk about music”. I take a cue from the NPR discussions. A 20 or 30-something talks about some new band that we’ve never heard of, NPR always so terrified by the aging of its audience. The suitably young enthusiast talks about the emotional state of the songwriter.

I go with that. Talk about anything but chords. It’s about scents rubbing off on the music. Let Brickle’s work have some musky Hulme scent; set our brain hounds onto that scent. Either you stfu and listen to the music or you let your brain hounds loose and we usually flicker between the two modes.The worse thing to do is cast judgements like a music critic. In this way, music become useful in I Ching/Sestina manner.

Music is useful like the Sestina, like the I Ching

TE Hulme’s writings began as a mystery to me. After 15 years, his points are sinking in – particiularly his “Tory Philosophy”.

I talk abut chords, but I try to keep that talk in the footnotes. Music is about all kinds of extramusical things for the curious. First, there are the lyrics, then there are the poets, and there follows an endless train of exegesis. Brickle’s project set into motion some thoughts on TE Hulme, a very curious thinker who was smart enought to make friends with Bergson.

Plugging Emil
This not unlike Emil Awad having the good sense to befreind Octavio Paz.

This is a capricous, flying leap at Hulme’s Tory philosophy. Find it and read it before going further.

I didn’t know I was headed toward Hulme when this bit began. And a comparison of rants led me to an interesting hypothesis about history as a Procrustean bed.

This might be an outline for a more thorough kwriting, in McLuhan style, with just one idea and one image on every page. Or perhaps Brickle can join me to make a podcast about this……

Toxic PoMo

is a value (grounding) temper tantrum, combined with the arrogance of a generation (more than one generation) that felt their predecessors didn’t really get all these deep problems. This arrogant bunch didn’t really understand that Kant woke up every morning bound and determined to get to the bottom of something, did a damn good job, and much else rides on top of what he did, especially Hegel and Husserl.

To submit oneself to toxic PoMo is to bite an apple that turns out to be the same apple.

There is ok PoMo. It knows its biblical roots, its roots in Cervantes, Laurence Stearn and Goethe.

Goethe got Kant and he felt Lenz should not have suffered so after his novel Werther, which addressed those problems.

And Faust – the PoMotantrum comes from a dysfunctional relationship with Mephistopheles.

Thinking next – how condescending, calling the Chinese & more broadly Asian attitude, “ancestor worship”. Toryism is ancestor worship no less. You say you want a revolution…..

I figured some day, I’d wake up with some understanding of TE Hulme’s essay, but I suppose I felt at odds with Hulme because for me he overstates his case. He says we don’t change. I hesitated there – what’s the difference between Kant & Job?

Hulme’s rant in his Tory Philosophy is my rant here. Hulme would get my point here, but the analogous figures against which Hulme was ranting are now canonized. His bĂȘte noire is not exactly the same beast as mine. This is interesting–

That canonization – history as a Procrustean bed?

History as a Procrustean?

Kafka (thinking of Walser) – “there’s hope, but not for us….”

Two reasons for hope –

–history as a procrustean bed
–Macherey’s (thru Terry Eagleton, if you like) ideological shadow play


Some responses:

Frank Brickle:

What appeals to me about Structuralism still is how it reveals history and the ancestors to be fully alive in the present (and vice versa, but never mind about that for now). PoMo can’t tolerate that. Amputate the synchronic and worship the diachronic.

Yes, I’m objecting to weak post-structuralism or weak deconstrutionism.

[ anon]:

Derrida, Lyotard, and de Man were among the most discerning readers of Kant, so I hope you are not including them in this denunciation of what you call “PoMo” (whatever that is).

Fair enough.

1 – By “PoMo” I mean what got David Foster Wallace depressed. According to my son, Infinite Jest was a response to the depression DF Wallace attributerd to what I’m calling “PoMo”.

2 – Josh Hawley’s Yale – Weak post-structuralism becomes nihilistic, leading to a preference for *their* autocrat. They want to be dominated?

3 – Paul De Mann’s Yale – I welcome help with my unease with Paul De Mann.

[anon, same person]:

Instead of defending Paul de Man, I will relate my stories about de Man and Allen Forte, who hated each other. Forte told me that even when they were standing next to each other at the urinals in Harkness Hall, they would never speak.

Forte was a sound musicologist. (See elsewhere a conversation about George Walker and Forte. George Walker professed that he aimed at interval projection and he mentioned Forte & Eastman.) Musicology is grounded. Paul de Man strikes me as unhinged, a sower a bad seeds, and I feel he fed into the present right wing doublespeak. This may be unfair. Nevertheless I get the feeling that the bad students at Yale got enough of a whiff to become very dangerous. Bad readings of better thinkers than de Man can be dangerousl

I think I remember Terry Eagleton does not dismiss Paul de Man. I trust there is some good reading of Kant there. I’m still trying to figure out my unease with de Man. Your comments are welcome.