Jon Rafman – Remember Carthage
Brian Eno delivered the following lecture during New Music New York, the first New Music America Festival sponsored in 1979 by the Kitchen.
“There are two pieces of mine, Skysaw from Another Green World, and A Major Groove from Music For Films (both Editions EG), which are exactly the same track, mixed differently, slowed down, and fiddled about with a bit. I also gave it to Ultravox for one of the songs on their first album. It’s been a long way, this backing track. Listen to all three, and you hear what kind of range of difference usage is possible. M386 on Music For Films is another one that’s had four different lives. This is actually quite similar to what reggae producers have been doing for a while. Once you’re on tape, there are so many variations you can make that you don’t really.need to spend all that money hiring musicians; you can do a great deal with one piece of work. So when you buy a reggae record, there’s a 90 percent chance the drummer is Sly Dunbar. You get the impression that Sly Dunbar is chained to a studio seat somewhere in Jamaica, but in fact what happens is that his drum tracks are so interesting, they get used again and again.”
In a crowd of people fascinated by a spectacle or a speech, only a small number of spectators or listeners can hear very well, many only see or hear partially or almost not at all, and nonetheless, however poorly seated they may be, no matter how expensive their seat, they are satisfied and regret neither their time nor their money. Those people waited two hours for the Czar, who did finally pass by, but, crowded together behind several rows of people, they saw nothing; at most they could have heard the noise of the carriages – or sometimes only a deceptive noise. Yet when they went home they recounted the spectacle in all good faith as if they had been witnesses , for, in truth, they had seen it through the eyes of others. They would have been astonished had they been told that the man in the provinces, 200 leagues from Paris, looking at a picture of the imperial procession in his illustrated paper, was more truly a spectator than they, Why are they convince of the contrary? Because the crowd itself on such occasions serves at its own spectacle. The crowd draws and admires the crowd.
There is nothing that man fears more than the touch of the unknown. He wants to see what is reaching towards him., and to be able to recognize or at least classify it. Man always tends to avoid physical contact with anything strange. In the dark, the fear of an unexpected touch can mount to panic. Even clothes give insufficient security: it is easy to tear them and pierce through to the naked, smooth, defenceless flesh of the victim.
All the distances which men create round themselves are dictated by this fear. They shut themselves in houses which no-one may enter, and only there feel some measure of security. The fear of burglars is not only the fear of being robbed, but also the fear of a sudden and unexpected clutch out of the darkness.
The repugnance to being touched remains with us when we go about among people; the way we move in a busy street, in restaurants, trains or buses, is governed by it. Even when we are standing next to them and are able to watch and examine them closely, we avoid actual contact if we can. If we do not avoid it, it is because we feel attracted to someone; and then it is we who make the approach.
The promptness with which apology is offered for an unintentional contact, the tension with which it is awaited, our violent and sometimes even physical reaction when it is not forthcoming, the antipathy and hatred we feel for the offender, even when we cannot be certain who it is—the whole knot of shifting and intensely sensitive reactions to an alien touch—proves that we are dealing here with a human propensity as deep-seated as it is alert and insidious; something which never leaves a man when he has once established the boundaries of his personality. Even in sleep, when he is far more unguarded, he can all too easily be disturbed by a touch.
It is only in a crowd that man can become free of this fear of being touched. That is the only situation in which the fear changes into its opposite. The crowd he needs is the dense crowd, in which body is pressed to body; a crowd, too, whose psychical constitution is also dense, or compact, so that he no longer notices who it is that presses against him. As soon as a man has surrendered himself to the crowd, he ceases to fear its touch. Ideally, all are equal there; no distinctions count, not even that of sex. The man pressed against him is the same as himself. He feels him as he feels himself. Suddenly it is as though everything were happening in one and the same body. This is perhaps one of the reasons why a crowd seeks to close in on itself: it wants to rid each individual as completely as possible of the fear of being touched. The more fiercely people press together, the more certain they feel that they do not fear each other. This reversal of the fear of being touched belongs to the nature of crowds. The feeling of relief is most striking where the density of the crowd is greatest.
-Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power