Friday, April 25, 2008

Ethnomusicology vs Musicology: The paradox of Productivity

This is Musicology:

This is Ethnomusicology:

And this is Kofi Agawu:

Agawu, the famed postcolonial music theorist of Princeton University has been exceptionally effective in arguing against the position of "difference" assumed by Ethnomusicology in attending to Otherness. His claim, echoed by many other musicologists, is that "difference" is produced in order to give authorial voice to the ethnomusicologist, who speaks for the Other. In a Said-like swindle, Agawu characterizes ethnomusicology as a ventriloquist act, verifying the hypothetical native by distorting him into the discursive universe of ethnomusicology, carefully controlled by other power-hungry ethnoids. What Agawu argues for is a careful unmasking of voices of authority as constructed paradigms of Symbolic colonization of the Other, which can only be defined as such by the production of difference by the former.

While Agawu's critique of ethnomusicology comes fast, furious and effective, rejecting difference can offer no positive way forward for the study of ethnomusicology, nor can it prescribe an alternative to theorizing Otherness. In fact, "sameness" as a category risks becoming hegemonic. One should not forget that the implicit ideology of egalitarianism saturates notions of "sameness" with a historical sheen of Liberal Democracy, and ends up acceding to the reinforcement of Western/Eastern difference as predicated on political ends and means. In other words, the impulse towards Otherness as "sameness" smuggles a loaded inclination towards American models of subjectivity, indeed masquerading as THE model of subjectivity whatever the cultural context the inquisitor is dealing with.

To put a Platonic spin on the notion of "sameness", perhaps we would do better to conceive of "sameness" as a radical imagining of an absence, indeed "sameness" not as a positive value but as an absence of difference. The key, then is then understanding how boundaries of "sameness" are drawn by deftly delimiting "difference". If we throw a psychoanalytic frame on the issue, one may even conceive of "sameness" as the precipitate between primary difference and secondary difference. "Sameness" cannot be foundational, Lacan argues, who conceives of the perceiving subject as intrinsically heterogeneous. "Sameness" therefore implies the subjective delimitation of and endless chain of signifiers, isolating THE signifier (or subject position) which will "signify for all other signifiers". The trick then, is producing "sameness" by manufacturing secondary difference.

Zizek identifies this as a primordially political act that resembles the recognition (production) of stable identity by first figuring the kernel of pure absence, the chaotic cycle of signification, then by according the absence a positive value, the signifier for which will signify all others. But this involves an act prior to naming, it involves a consensual "clearing-out" of the absence which is first and foremost not (and opposed to) all other signifiers, then allocating that negative a positive value as the signifier. The formation of a discipline adopts the same exact principle in clearing out a position of distance from all others, which then allows it to articulate itself as homogeneous.

If we push Agawu's faulty line of reasoning a little further, I argue that one of the reasons Musicology still exists today is predicated upon its difference (even opposition) to that of ethnomusicology. Turning the table, it may be argued that Musicology's hidden reliance on difference is what gives currency to a certain discursive practice as discipline, in order to stratify a certain mode of production intrinsically dependent on numerous ideologies. One of these ideologies is the illusion of an essentially "Western" Canon of Musical Works which may be plundered for productive knowledge. What musicology risks in New-Musicology (so-called Kermanesque interdisciplinary infusionary knowledge) is the bleeding of discursive practices into Ethnomusicology, and the audacious proposition that someday, ethnomusicology may eventually overtake or replace musicology. What, then differentiates both disciplines? Simply, the orientation of either discipline towards Otherness. For Ethnomusicology, Otherness forms the essential kernal of study. Though, as Agawu has pointed out, this may be problematic, one also can conceive of the possibility of the self turning to the self as other. Indeed, exploring the territory of assumed "sameness" as a playground of difference can be productive. For Musicology, however, is towards disciplinary Otherness.

Within the past decade, Musicology has refashioned its ideological territory, embracing values that deliberately contrast with the discursive practices of Ethnomusicology. Ethnomusicology, for Musicology, is "the Other". What I am identifying here is a subtle adjustment in the mode of knowledge production predicated upon the "gaze" of its "Other" discipline, Ethnomusicology. Again, I am not claiming that this reorientation has worked to solidify the stronghold of the Western tradition as a bearer of authentic knowledge; rather, I am identifying how the reorienting of Otherness can drive the productivity of disciplines such as Musicology into avenues which are perceived to differ. But this is not an ethical judgment; on the contrary, the paradox of this produced difference between disciplines is that the construction of difference is essentially productive, as long as the boundaries of "discipline" are still valued metaphysically.

Getai and the fashioning of Cultural Aesthetics

So after ditching my last paper proposal, it took me a long time to find a new topic that may be viable. I've done some research, and became interested in the phenomenon of Chinese Opera in Singapore, and its close relationship to the making of shared cultural identity. Chinese Opera - essentially a diasporic form of ritual performance - has existed in Singapore since the prewar years. In the postwar years, however, a strong government-led impulse towards the construction of multicultural identity led to the privileging of amatuer opera troupes over professional ones, in a phenomenon described as the "secularization" (or, in my view, the museumification) of Chinese Street Opera as cultural heritage. The privileging of 'amateur' opera groups can be linked to the cultivation of National Cultural aesthetic that emphasizes the 'indoor' performance over 'outdoor', and the 'secular' "distanced" aesthetic over the religious/ritualistic one. But in the recent years, Chinese Opera has seen a marked decay, in preferance of a "modernized" version of Opera known as "Getai", which translates literally into song-stage. This paper will attempt to discuss the rise of Getai and the relative unpopularity of Chinese Opera as not 'surface' events bearing directly upon each other, but symptoms of a continuosly evolving National cultural aesthetic that can be characterized as moving towards the performance of simulacrum and form as heritage.

Sounds good?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Strange Machine's Making Noise At Wesleyan
What Is That Strange Machine, And Why Is It Making That Noise?
A Strange Machine's Making Noise At Wesleyan


Courant Staff Writer

April 15, 2008


— The machine in the basement is a mystery.

Buried in a dank corner of Wesleyan University's art studio, it hangs from the ceiling, bathed in cold blue light and aimed into space. Sometimes, it turns itself on, purring with loud, rhythmic thrums. Its purpose? Speculation on campus swirls. The machine might cause you to hallucinate, someone posted on "Wesleying," a student-run blog, maybe even see ghosts. Students and professors who paint and sculpt on the floors above it don't know who put it there or what it does.

But Matthew Valades knows. He built it.

A 22-year-old senior with a goatee and a shock of sandy-colored hair, Valades pieced together the machine for reasons less sinister: It's part of his senior project.

And although it might be the most visible — some might say ominous — piece of the installation, the machine is not the focus. The whole basement hallway is part of Valades' experiment on what happens when sound, light and oblivious passersby meet in an anonymous place.

"This is a transitive space; it's really mundane and functional," said Valades, of New Jersey, as he stood in the cool, darkened corridor on a recent Thursday. "But it's also very beautiful. I wanted to get people to pause and think about these things."

It might seem a strange place to plop an art installation. The corridor is well-traveled by a small group of professors and students, but otherwise inhabited only by stacks of wooden boards and a set of rusty lockers.

Its walls are pockmarked with holes and blotched with water stains. The only light comes from forlorn LED fixtures on the ceiling and the red neon of exit signs.

But where others might just see a shortcut to their next class, Valades sees artistic potential. To highlight the hallway's quirks, he taped countless small white labels to cracks in the floor and marks on the wall. ("Splatter" reads one, beside what looked like age-old drops of paint.)

And, of course, there's the ultimate head-turner: the machine. Using $400 he received from the Student Budgetary Committee, Valades bought two high-quality speakers on the Internet and set them into handmade wooden boxes.

With a tape measure and pencil, he calculated where to place the speakers to get the best sound waves. One speaker went halfway down the hallway. The second he suspended from the ceiling.

Amplifiers and oscillators were hooked up to a series of timers that tell the machine when to switch on. Valades sealed the contraption with a cashmere scarf that he found among the basement refuse. "No one's complained or tried to reclaim it," Valades said, "so I guess it's OK."

The machine pumps out sound waves of two lengths — one an ultra-low frequency and one so high it's on the edge of human hearing. Some parts of the hallway vibrate intensely. In others, there is a vague hum.

The end result is impressive, and a bit creepy. Valades draped portions of the corridor with scraps of plastic wrap to catch and tremble in the reverberations that echo like the hallway's own heartbeat.

The installation mixes Valades' interests in testing the boundaries of art display and sound, said music Professor Ronald Kuivila, Valades' faculty adviser.

Research studies have suggested that high- and low-frequency sounds can do things as diverse as enrich a person's aural experience or inspire feelings of unease, perhaps even explain why people say they see ghosts. Some healers, Valades said, have used them for therapy.

There's no sign posted to explain where the installation begins or ends, or any advertising to draw an audience. News of it spread on campus by word-of-mouth and the Internet. "It's viral," said Kuivila.

Valades thinks that reaction suits the installation's guerrilla nature. He's a bit miffed that some people boil it down to the "ghost machine," but added, "If it gets people down here and thinking about [the hallway], I guess that's the point."

He plans to tweak the hallway again this week by weaving in colored lights.

And when he's not adjusting the installation's decor, Valades enjoys seeing how people react to it.

Some take it in stride. Others, not so much — as one recent post on the Wesleyan student blog attests.

"how does it work??" the anonymous poster wrote. "ugh i pass it all the time but never know what to do."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Living the Nietzchean Lie, or, Re: Historical Musicology: Is it still possible?

Rob Wegman, "Historical musicology: Is it still possible?", in The
cultural study of music, pp. 136-145

Rob Wegman makes his point very clear that Historical musicology faces a criticle juncture: either to continue to berate itself for its impossible task and ignore the music, or to acknowledge its impossible historicizing task and continue to live the "Nietzchian lie" (so to speak), and to go on with its tasks with humility.

On one hand, Wegman's frustration with the never-ending critical reflexivity of musicological critics (from within AND without the discipline) appears justified; his anxieties are not thoroughly exclusive to the discipline of musicology but, most glaringly so, also applies to the disciplinary history of Anthropology. Ever since the "critical turn" of the 1960s in Anthro, writers still battle with the tension between subjective responsible ethnography and "navel gazing". This problem, I
think is never going to go away as long as it is haunted by the metaphysical traces of the "truth claim". And I think we should not ignore the seductive powers of the "truth claim" in our discipline either, in its many manifestations. After all, it is this implicit (usually camouflaged) "truth claim" that grants veracity, legitimacy and power to certain disciplinary "fashions", while surpressing other methodologies as less-truthful or less accurate.

For Wegman, to live the Nietzchean lie is the more responsible of either, BUT we have to remember that Wegman's prescription of historical musicology of the future is equally dependent on what I will classify as "extramusical sensibility", the messianic justification that portrays him and his colleagues as indispensible armatures of knowledge production. For Wegman, that is the case of imposing order upon a chaotic world of facts (which is what all historians do, really, not just historical musicologists). And this is said very well, too. However, Wegman refrains from recognizing himself as part of a disciplinary process *within* a larger disciplinary sphere that is intrinsically heterogenous and divided. A historical survey of plainchant in the Medieval age will bear consequences on the theoretical study of the notation, which will also bear consequences on the sociological and cultural study of music and its various institutions that are interconnected. And vice versa. Historical musicology is already interdisciplinary. And hence it would be fair to imply that Historical musicology has a responsibility to farther disciplines - for example, Cultural historians who are interested in Baroque music as a participant in the shaping of "interiority" during the reign of a French Monarch or something. Wegman-as-music-historian faces an indictement to produce, and I think to a large extent these are the gears that underlie his larger arguement (which he does not explicitly make reference to).

Dirty Difference, or, The Secret Agenda of Diversity

It's time to (re)assess the subjects of reading and knowledge. In particular, I was drawn to the subject as historical being; I was drawn to the subject as virtual self (presumably non-identical), by curiously perusing the archives of this blog. And not without certain bashfulness. Recall ACJC, when Naazli returned, bounding with energy, from her first year of studies in the United Kingdom. "Was I really that vacuous?" she snorted, and proceeded to lambast the memory of her earlier self. At that time, I could not have believed how she could have ever fathomed such a historical distinction of the divided self. And now, for various reasons, it had to be my turn. Perhaps the horizon where culture and the fashioning of self has changed,or claims-to-parole indeed have certain articulated age-groups. Whatever the reason, I found myself scowling at my earlier entries thinking: "How on earth could I have written something like that!"

Of course, this is the soon-to-be-23 Hansel lamenting, laboriously knotted out of nearly half a decade's worth of critical inquiry. This does not presume critical autonomy, oh no. Sometimes it means shuffling the deck, sometimes it means playing with someone else's stack, but the deck of cards, however diverse, have to be manufactured. Today, the winning hand is generally granted by talk of "diversity", but if we allow ourselves to put a Foucauldian spin on the issue, very soon we might just as much slay our teleological inclinations. I think "Diversity" packs the same illusionistic punch as "humanity", spanning a trajectory right out of Aristotle's "Ethics". And so multiculturalism, the birth of the rights-to-diversity cannot be seen as so much a paradigmatic evolution, but a disconnected leap in epistemes.

If we amplify the Marxist quality of Foucault, we may wish to claim that the decentralization of capitalism, the liberation of knowledge, the claims to diversity and the radical retheorizing of the other can be pinned down to certain historical ruptures and breakthroughs, namely that of the "globalizing phenomenon" and the notorious sphere of the blame-it-all, the internet. But as Edelman reminds us, the insoluble (and traumatic) kernal of the Real, indeed the symptom [sinthome] of every successful metanarrative (or the point de capiton of several) must necessarily paradoxically embody a Derridean "center" that "is elsewhere", and hence unintelligable. And so Diversity can only come at a price that, at the present moment can never be fulfilled.

Why is this so? Because the Foucauldian formal premise rests on a successful internalization, founded upon the strictures of institutions and agencies (in an Althusserian way) that radically remodel and reconceive the subject. What, therefore, are subjects of diversity? If subjects of discipline are subjected to discipline, then perhaps subjects of diversity are subject to diversity. Hence the problem - the subject of diversity, for one to truly embrace fracturedness and the dicta of this torch-flaming philosophy, have to account for an intrinsically fractured interior. This is the Lacanian paradox; the subject (which is already elsewhere), the subject of the drive (which already is diversity and yet deconstructs diversity) cannot function without the stable knitting together of implicit divisions in the Imaginary matrix of the Ego-Ideal.

The problem with diversity is also that it can only work as a script of power from the point of difference, although it portends to eradicate difference through feigned tolerance. As Feminism studies have already shown us, Difference is not an essential category, but what Locke would call a "nominal" essence; indeed as Jonathan Culler has ingeniously argued, Difference is produced by differing. And there is no reason why Spivak's heavy-handed critique of the Subaltern Studies group should not apply to the wiring of individual difference. In her polemics (which calls for a thorough rethinking of ethnography), Spivak argues that in order for the inquisitor to so-call 'liberate' the marginalized and to allow them to speak, the voice from which the marginalized speaks can only gain authority through the lungs of the inquisitor by first aceding to its fundamental difference (and marginality), a difference that is usually produced by the inquisitor. For Spivak, this is a necessary "temporal" evil that must be tolerated in order to allow the margins to infiltrate.

If we subject this entire equation to a mirror-reflection, there is no reason to see why the inquiring subject posits himself different prior to the conceptualization of otherness. This, I think, is a crucial move on several accounts. Firstly, it reconsiders diversity from the vantage of the split subject, who has to first radically embody difference before finding footing on the banks opposite the Other. Secondly, it reveals how "sameness" or the gaps between the lines of Diversity (since diversity presumes difference), as a category of subscription still falls prey to the creation of otherness. Thirdly, if the refashioning of vantage is key to the resignification of sameness and difference in Diversity, then the encounter with 'alien' knowledge equally has a potent stake in refashioning the subject of the drive: who is first driven to 'kill' himself, so to speak, in order to resurrect a new 'other' of the self.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Minefield here, minefield there, interdiscipline warfare!

Even musicology-wannabes get more-than-slightly peeved when it comes down to the exhausted talk of interdisciplinary studies. As Frogley mentioned the other day, now everything is interdisciplinary. But as I had to convince a fellow colleague some weeks before, interdisciplinary can only exist by acknowledging the autonomous spheres of disciplines as totalized discrete entities. And as "interdisciplinary" continues to grow in slogan strength (my my... it looks contemporary, hip and oh so culturally adept on those resumes!), so does our somewhat flaccid lip service continue to mask its deep anxieties, that is, the deep disciplinary fears of infiltration and decentralization. This is especially so for Musicology, the once paraded field of study that, in its earliest German incarnation, strove to be a hothouse of knowledge about all-things-musical. But where are we today? In the much-cited compilation The Cultural Study of Music, Rob Wegman's article "Historical musicology: Is it still possible?" attempts to deflect the incriminating gaze of the textual critic (usually transported from literary criticism). More urgently, his plea for a recourse to the lies of empirical historical musicology in a warts-and-all approach is useful for surveying exactly what musicologists of his caliber and breed are precisely so anxious to preserve.

For Wegman, the secularized messianic call once proudly brandished by the Musicologist (with a big M) was one of historical interpretation and factual accounts, that is, attempting to craft compelling historical narratives that display a degree of internal consonance. Although Wegman does not necessarily imply that musicology should strive to the order of Taruskin's totalizing "Oxford History of Music", Wegman does argue for the scholastic necessity of musicologists in society as an antidote to pure empirical chaos and heterogenity. This is, of course, an absolutely essential mode of epistemology, but what is at stake here is Wegman's own convictions about what Musicologists should be. Simply, Wegman prefers us all to be music Historians. With a capital H. If the disciplinary production of music History (note the capital emphases), as Wegman himself admits, depends on narratology, then why a radical suturing of History to the study of music itself?

As Zizek has argued, the problem with "suturing" is that the privileged signifier (he uses the example of the King) radically "de-sutures" his subjects, who become subjected to the social contract articulated (indeed activated) by the centralization of the King. And no prizes in guessing what has served as Musicology's little Master Signifier cum disciplinary enabler, neither as to what the author is feeling. Indeed history haunts all specters of music-making, as if the former was a validation ticket to the latter. Perhaps, given Foucault's gentle promptings, we should remind ourselves that an accepted disciplinary chronotype (i.e. a system of temporal unfolding - past/present/future - that is theorized and assumed) is not an immanent one, but also a necessarily "historical" one too. History cannot forget to historicize itself. History is what keeps the mausoleum of performances of great works compelling, and history is what keeps many minion-cologists hard at work with the next earth-shattering project. And so if history, the necessary illusion of many faces, is what can be transcended (or, as Wegman will have it - its fallacies very much ignored), then shouldn't there be an ethics of musicology involved somewhere, lest we rehearse the Nietzschian lie?

Can musicology survive without History? At this moment, I doubt anyone even dares to raise the possibility. Indeed with the publication of Joseph Kerman's 1985 decree towards New Musicology, the way forward never involved the relinquishment of History. In fact, it assumes - by way of interdisciplinary ventures - to reinforce the suturing of History to music and musicology by means of co-option. And this has led to some very confused musicology and critical (and crossover) landscapes. Consider Leo Treitler's forceful distinction between purely empirical musicology and "postmodern" musicology (see Rethinking Music, ed. Cook), in which he rejects either epistemological paradigms for various implicit faults, then comes to a strange poetic standpoint from which to re-mysticize music, indeed to imbue it with as much subjective meaning as possible in order to "plumb" its depths for a narcissistic image of ourselves.

Criticisms aside, it is easy to confuse Treitler's definition of "postmodern" musicology. In particular, his definition has been confused with New Musicology itself, and has been raised as a war-flag against it. What Treitler means by postmodern musicology is a particular form of criticism fashioned along the (usually misread and much abused) lines of Deconstruction by enthusiastic discipline-crossing musicologists. The problem with these armchair critics are twofold (in my opinion): Firstly, they often are quick to jump into the tools of deconstruction without realizing where and how the paradigm emerged (AND - Derrida never pioneered Deconstruction; the term was attributed to him by literary theorists and philosophers who felt energized enough to enact the fame game) and secondly, deconstruction can never be productive (in a Foucauldian sense). Deconstruction can only but peel away at the onion, one skin at a time, till the palm is left clutching at nothing, but reeks of odour all the same. There is no musical knowledge created - rather, it is the destruction of the legitimacies of knowledge in itself. Now this can't be good for people who want to write about music, and not want to write about why the author isn't really there.

So what? Are we really at a disciplinary dead end? Or an interdisciplinary minefield? Personally, I cherish Kevin Korsyn's own proposition of the term "post-disciplinary", where at once we acknowledge that our positions of disciplinary security are slipping, and yet be engaged with writing about music as creatively as possible. After all, it's about putting the M back into MUSICology. It's about letting the squabble between Theory/Analysis or Musicology/Theory or Musicology/Ethnomusicology rest, because an absence of disciplinary boundaries evoke a ghostly nostalgia as forceful as presence, which leads back to another squabble about whether the wall should never have been torn down in the first place. Even perhaps, it means tracing our steps back into German-Ideology-land of Musikwissenschaft, where the only glue that holds us together is the curious and wonderful world of music.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Battles with a professor

re: your proposed paper,

i am sure you have changed topic now. i hope so, because that one did not seem very viable. please try to come up with a topic more strictly within musicology. you can apply all your psychology/philosophy/theory knowledge once you have mastered writing a clear musicology paper. aim to address just one topic, not deriving a new metatheory. this is how to make a concrete contribution to our knowledge, and advance the discipline--one small piece at a time.

re: re: my proposed paper

I'm surprised you thought that the idea was a little out of the realm of musicology. Maybe I should make the case for it a little clearer. I'm trying to put a 'New Musicology' spin (so to speak) on the old Grosse Fuge problem by suggesting the possibility that an act of revision (within the composerly sphere) may be read as an act of autobiography, and the act of constructing one's own biography. I'm approaching the topic from a 'subjectivity studies' point of view, a forceful musicological topic that emerged since the mid 1980s, and exploded into multiple positions in the 1990s with Gender, feminist and queer musicology, headed by Lawrence Kramer and Naomi Cummings as two of the most forceful voices in the field today. Therefore I do not think the argument that I should stick "within the discipline" holds (first and foremost, is the 'discipline' of musicology really as autonomous and self-enclosed as we imagine?); either this is an act of professional angst, or worse, with all the contemporary work that has been done at the margins of the field, myopic! This does not mean I'm going to be brazenly theorizing without delving into history. History I must definitely genuflect to. This is an ambitious paper, yes, but that shouldn't hold me back from attempting it on the grounds of an idealized (even ethical!) prescribed method on how to make scholarly contributions to the field.

Friday, April 4, 2008

RE: Revision as biography

A few thoughts regarding the essay below:

(1) What I am clarifying in terms of a theoretical position is the formalistic quality of the Lacanian category of the Ego-Ideal, the Ideal-"I" as a site discursive reflection. I view the site of misrecognition as one that is a predicate for various discourses regarding (a) the autonomy of the author (or, in this case, composer) and (b) the site from which musicological work on manuscripts and their revision are indebted to as an a priori.

(2) What if Hegel's formulation of recognition of Geist in the work of art was wrong, i.e. that the subject misrecognizes himself in the work of art, that the impulse to recognition is indeed a symptom, our "only crutch" of being (as Zizek puts it)?

Revision as biography: revisiting the aesthetic subject

A good friend of mine, Leah, is currently working on her dissertation regarding the puzzling move by Beethoven to revise his String Quartet No. 13 (Op 130), extracting the controversial "Grosse Fuge" and rewriting a jolly finale instead. The Grosse Fuge, freed of its strongholds as a movement to the 13th String Quartet, gained aesthetic autonomy as an independent single-movement piece, published as Op 133. Eventually shying away from the herculean question "Why?", she decided to pursue musicological study into a small but significant subtitle published under the main title of Grosse Fuge.

And understandably so, for musical biographers have often engaged in heated debates regarding the biographical details that persuaded Beethoven to tear out the Grosse Fuge. And speculation will be speculation, for the vast litany of intrinsic and extrinsic events that form the web of any event spatialized in time can never be fully recovered. One problem with musical biography in the creation (and inevitable generalization) of truth regarding the history of manuscript bibliography has been crouched upon a troublesome notion of the permanant, stable, pragmatic subject which simply reacts to and encounters its environ. For a discipline that already has to struggle with the fluidity of revision and text, considering the heterogenity of the subject would only be an added burden. However, such neglect (or presumption) of the stable writing (and/or reading) subject cannot and should not be simply buried under the carpet or left to the philosophers.

In fact, I believe that a recourse to subjectivity studies in music can produce a wealth of knowledge and possible interpretations that may be especially illuminating to material and bibliographical scholarship. There is simply no reason to dismiss the fact that the composing subject is and should be conceived as fractured and plural as the body of sketches that figure the sum of a single musical "work". The metaphor is a fitting one, one that might even be conceived of as personification. Granted the regulatory concept of the single abstract nominal category (here I borrow from Locke's "nominal essences") called the "work concept", much scholarship has muddled the presumptions of a total, localized and unified system of presentation that can be thoroughly assimilated into material rules. Instead, we see how the category "work" (as localized to a singularity for convenience's sake - take, for example, an opus number) is already a localizing force, as if it were a microscope whose resolution could be adjusted to varying degrees. Similarly, the heterogeneous subject is localized at what Lacan calls the "ego-Ideal" - the misrecognized mirror image; the site of the Imaginary where the "barred" or "split" subject constructs an illusion of his total self; the site of life investment; the necessary mistake.

Zizek, working on Lacan's hypothesis, takes this idea of misrecognition a step further, claiming that there already is a "double-reflection" at work at the site of the imaginary upon which the subject (or composer) is constituted. In his work on Political jouissance (For They know not what They do), writes:

"...the [split] speaking subject is split into the ignorance of her imaginary experience ... and the weight her words assumer within the field of the big Other, the way they affect the intersubjective network ... this double reflection produces a symbolic point the nature of which is purely virtual: neither what I immediately see ("reality itself") nor the way others see me (the "real" inverted image of reality) but the way I see the others seeing me." (Zizek (2008), 13)

This is what Zizek locates in Lacan as the "purely virtual viewpoint of the Ego-Ideal", the vantage point from which the gaze of the big Other is necessarily (paradoxically) constituting-of and constituting-from
the "split" subject. So how does this lead us to subjectivity in manuscript studies? Quite simply, by acknowledging the site of the Ego-Ideal as a regulating locus for knowledge production, we are empowered with the means to theorize that the site of misrecognition is also the site upon which decisions regarding the editing of manuscripts are consulted, indeed negotiated as if it were the forearm upon which Rodin's The Thinker's heavy jaw rests on.

As early as Hegel, the heterogeneous subject has been theorized in philosophical literature as (in Hegelese), a subject that perpetually "reduplicates" itself. In Hegel's writing on aesthetics, the great work of art enables the thinking subject who is a site of spiritual evolution and hence, instability, to reconstitute himself by "recognizing" the spirit [geist] in the work of art, the spirit of which he is a participant to as well. In a reverse-Lacanian move, Hegel views the successful work as something of recognition (as opposed to misrecognition): the work of art serves as a mirror, reflecting and making intelligible the Spirit manifest in man. Man recognizes his greatness in this narcissistic feedback loop (and here we have some potential Freudian undertones), and thus is given a platform upon which to contemplate his great role in the unfolding of telos. But Hegel is not far away from Lacan, and drawing out consonances in either of their theories finds friendship in the concept of the author, who is always constituting himself by constituting the Other gazing at the self, or the work.

Revising a work of art, or a manuscript, therefore, may reveal a tension, a rupture, or an irruption in the subject that constitutes materially. After all, sketches and revisions are methods of reproduction, indeed a Hegelian form of "reduplication", such that the final product is more befitting, or filial to the heterogeneous subject at a certain coordinate in space, time and history. Upon these terms, can we not read Beethoven's risky maneuver as an attempt at writing (and therefore, revising) a biography of the self, where the concept of "Opus" so rationally linked with the idea of telos and positivism suggest the possibilities of a linear historical trajectory that can be absorbed into the rationalizing imperatives of the Symbolic? For me, Beethoven's decision to reassert the Grosse Fuge into the institutionalized (read: Symbolic) logic of Opus numbers reveals (1) an insistence on creating a narrative that reflects a progressive and logical telos, and (2) an implicit (but unwitting) subscription to what Zizek calls "the point of double reflection" whereby "the Imaginary is ... hooked on the Symbolic" (10).