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The Formulas of the Real
The Question of Democracy
The Sound of Silence:
Wagner with Stalin
A Letter Which Did Arrive
at its Destination
Jean Claude Abreu
Florencia Gonzalez Alzaga
The usual conception of opera as merely the formal oscillation of voice and music (the effect of which is meaning or sense) is shattered by the extraordinary series of cries that punctuate Wagnerian opera, from Brangäne's piercing shriek at the end of Act II of Tristan and Isolde to Kundry's blood-curdling scream at the beginning of Act II of Parsifal. These cries effectively reverse the usual relationship between silence and noise (of silence as that vacuous space which is then filled up with noise, as seen in something like John Cage's infamous Silence, in which after 4' 33" of a piano being unplayed the doors of the concert hall are thrown open to let in the sounds from outside). With Wagner, it is not silence that comes first, but the cry. As Lacan put it, the cry is the support and provocation of silence, that abyss into which silence hastens.
The fact that appearance is all that there is necessarily means that appearance is already split, other than itself. (It is in these terms that Zizek marks the difference between Hegel and Hölderlin in The Parallax View. It is not merely that Hölderlin-and this, we are almost tempted to say, was the very form of his madness-held fast to the raw utopian energy of the founding act of the revolution, the exception to social reality, whereas Hegel attempted to locate "the rose in the cross of the present," that is, the exception in social reality. The more profound distinction between them is that, as opposed to the conventional, self-alienating, dialectical thought of Hölderlin, for whom it was a matter of 'narrating' this exception, for Hegel in a performative way, the very act of thinking is the exception within social reality; thinking thus constitutes both the post-revolutionary social order and its inherent exception.)
Art: Jockum Nordström
The Runt and the Pawn - graphite on paper, 2005
courtesy David Zwirner Gallery.
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