What is this that stands before me?

I’m really excited to be involved in a couple of, well, really exciting looking events over the next couple of weeks, which will see me witter away about Black Sabbath, utopia, dissonance, ancient theories of harmony, hope, protest movements and Ursula Le Guin (amongst other things); and make some noise as well…

Utopia at the End of History

This coming Monday (the 28th) I’m running a workshop rather grandly titled ‘Utopia at the End of History’ for Nottingham University’s Left Society and the Nottingham Student Peace Movement. It’s in E126 in the Portland Building on University Park campus and is open to all; it’d be lovely to see you there. Blurb after the poster, which features quite possibly my favourite photograph of all time…

“This workshop will consider what the concept of utopia might be able to offer contemporary radical politics. How might we use it to prise open liberalism’s certainty that we have reached the ‘end of history’? (And is this claim not utopian itself?) And, more crucially, how might we set about creating utopian spaces which present a significant challenge to the rule of capital without creating new forms of domination? This session will attempt to answer some of these questions (and pose new questions) by drawing on utopian literature, radical political theory, musicology, popular education and the praxis of global social movements.”

What is this that stands before me?

On Thursday 8th December I’m giving a talk at Nottingham Contemporary and will then be performing a specially commissioned piece of music with Surfacing. Both of these are inspired by Klaus Weber’s ‘Long Dark Windchime (Arab Tritone)’. The talk’s at 7pm and then we’ll be performing at around 8pm. More details after the picture…

Klaus Weber’s Long Dark Windchime (Arab Tritone)

“What do the ominous tones of Klaus Weber’s ‘Large Dark Wind Chime’ (Arab Tritone) mean? To many, they will sound terrifying. The tritone has, after all, long been linked with the devil. Legend has it that it was banned in the Middle Ages, and blues players would refuse to play it for fear of conjuring up the dark master. Yet there is another potential narrative to its dissonance – one which acknowledges difference, rejects closure and is, in the words of musicologist Dane Rudhyar ‘the music of true and Spiritual democracy’.
Drawing on theories of dissonance and noise alongisde contemporary political theory, David Bell will chart the politics of dissonance and suggest that dissonance can be seen as a utopian, emancipatory force.

The talk will be followed by a performance of a specially commissioned piece by Nottingham duo Surfacing- of whom Bell is a member. Entitled ‘What Is This That Stands Before Me?’, the performance will sample Weber’s sculpture and famous works of dissonance (as well as creating plenty of its own)

Surfacing’s piece will pose the question – what is it that stands before the audience? Fear and the abyss? Or a peculiar kind of hope?”

It’s free but you need to book, and can do so here.

And talking of Surfacing, here’s a demo of a new track for you…

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