The Concert Will Be Televised (2005)

The question is how to metaphorize all this. Is the performer the watcher or the watched? Like Kissinger he could be both at the same time. In this regard, one should study leaks a little more carefully. The Wilson-Plame case, for instance. But how can a musician-performer lie?  How does one define lie in this context?  After all, Haldeman and Ehrlichman are dead.  Also an excellent way to try out some of the subliminal ideas.  I think this is the right idea.  And not very romantic. Sort of a reverse-spin. The material is complexified rather than dumbed-down. Maybe he’s a really bad spinmeister. The out-of-control side would happen by accident. Then what? Some catastrophic patches? A sort of deus ex machina. A Karl Rove-like character, as in here’s some filler material that has proven to be successful. He was a bad guy anyway, the world is a safer place etc. Bait and switch, shock and awe. Make it look good. This should happen entirely metaphorically. However, the use of antiquated FBI documents from a bad time in history should be embraced. Instant replay as it were, Howard Cosell-like. Another way to distract attention away from some potential problems, using the metaphorical potential of the glitch as carrier of truth, which would in some sense save the pianist from getting into structural hot water. Perhaps a couple of gross jump cuts might make a kind of gauche point. Think about the standard concert practice of dealing with screw-ups. You cover them up. What happens? The viewer doesn’t notice and thinks it’s a bad piece.  Do not expose  yourself to criticism at any cost. It’s almost as if performers had some kind of immunity from prosecution. The performer will always do his best. We’ll just keep spinning it to make it seem like our reasons have always been the right ones. He must have destroyed them. Resistance? No problem. No one is going to take apart your chronology. Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Media can enable such untruths to become received wisdom.  No-one can really turn away from a TV. That’s the other thing. The idea of complete ignorance and complete cynicism being the same basic thing. We cannot turn away from the corrupt. We think we can quit anytime, but we really can’t. We’re hopelessly addicted to the thing.  Almost mechanically replaying the past, unconsciously manipulated by the corrupting strings of perpetual insecurity. Should there be a solution built in somewhere, a spanner, a leaker, an informant-signifier who is tired of being a cog in a cynical power-hungry wheel? Should there be catastrophic clues?  I know how to get that effect, look good doing it and make everyone happy. The composer won’t even know what hit him. The panopticon is a good analogy for the concert ritual. Gould called it Climbing Everest. It’s kind of gross actually, and runs the risk of being some kind of voyeuristic titillation. Freak show. That’s really dangerous. How dishonest can you really get? Jacques Derrida had it right with his oscillation. Jarrett and Gould in effect reaffirm the dominant concert ritual. It still is possible to absorb them.  Yes, technology mediates so much of our lives, but OK, then what? (PS: Ken Burns could make Hitler look like your friendly uncle.) How does one convey facts in so little time, with such rigid constraints?  Very little flinching, little grimacing.  They’ve learned their lesson!  Is that all there is?  Meanwhile, they’re in the process of coming to a negative conclusion about the content (too silly and too simple a venture for a serious new music society). The music itself is only a tool to promote the personality and career of the artist. How cynical! Too complex ideas sound crazy or completely opaque. They don’t make it through the concision filter. We’re all impressed by circus animals. Anything more subtle than that won’t make it. One-way only though. Sort of Smithsonian. It’s not being done to him. He’s involved in the conspiracy. How does the TV try and bend that? Does it distract you away from the local idiosyncrasies or steer you towards them? Is the pianist embarrassed by his inconsistencies, or does he use them strategically, to show some kind of superficial personality? Almost like a mistake. This should not be revealed, but unfortunately is. The wizard’s pants are down. It’s a hint dropped into the middle of the piece for anyone paying attention. Yes, subversives are always under fire, in one way or another.  But it is possible to speak at once autobiographically and conceptually?  Yes, the dark side of an already dark work. This piece is a slab of non-excerptable music. It’s not a last performance. Take him back to an earlier, more successful (naïve) time.  Is it the old Fanon saying?  Being in the world is itself a difficult proposition. Why should being on stage be any less so? Again, it’s an inside-outside affair. Actually, isn’t the point that the listener should not really know that? Crimes are caught by accident. Don’t need to actually work investigatively anymore, do actual research. We can just wait and let it fall into our laps. At this point, countless artists already bought the farm years ago.

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