Friday, February 22, 2008

Jarret "Obbligato" part one

Michael Jarret Drifting on a Read Ch 2 "Obbligato: Required Listening"

So, I have made it through the first twenty pages of this chapter and I must stop to vent. I am having great difficulty getting through this chapter without feeling overwhelmingly lost (or misled) and fully dicked around. I find kernels of meaning lost amidst tons of other text (I don't even know what to call it but it's making me feel dumb). Why are we reading this? Why must it be so inaccessible for non-jazzographers? I can't stand this. At first, I was like, "oh, how interesting..." But now I'm like, "get it over with!" What are we talking about? Improvisation as a model for writing? This is way too big of a stretch to just dance around an explanation that is more of an exploration. I need an answer. How is Jarret making a claim that jazz can be a model for writing? Can I get a summary? I am becoming totally annoyed with the jazz metaphor at this point...

The parts that make sense:
p. 62 "Obbligato alludes to everything considered parergonal, supplemental, "hors d'oeuvre," or a matter of style. Within the verbal arts this includes prefaces, footnotes, marginalia, and illustrations..."
Simple point enshrouded in crazy vocabulary that pisses me off. What the hell does parergonal mean? And why use it if it's such an obscure word? And if what you're talking about is framing materials and illustrative additions, why don't you just talk about that??!!

p. 64 "Writing (recording technology) is not opposed to improvisation. It results from it. The term 'obbligato,' then, is useful because it makes explicit what's implied by other terms for ornamentation: namely, that any and all distinctions between composition and improvisation are socially constructed and ultimately incomplete." 

Ok, got it. But then the section is over and we launch back into the arguments about jazz being something to write about... and, why say that "improvisation as an artistic practice is rarely, even tacitly, examined" on pave 71 of a book doing just that?Hasn't that point already been established?

and then we're in the postmodernist scene where "this book only and always quotes" (74). And I am officially lost and have arguably built up enough resistance that I will never again be found in the work of this writer.

Will post more later. Will probably be more angry. So beware.

1 comment:

Chris Hall said...

Yeah, Jarret kind of irks me too.

He's playing a sophisticated game grounded in a mind bogglingly complex and thorough knowledge of various theoretical approaches, but it's not effective rhetoric, at least not for this reader--it alienates me, as it does you.

Reading Jarret I feel like I want to find the guy and say,

"you can talk about the 'play of signifiers' and you can talk about how meaning is socially constructed and thusly uncertain, but when you spend 75% of a chapter showing off how much you have read it reeks of snobbery, pretension, and perhaps a thinly veiled insecurity."

So yeah, you aren't alone in your angst, Kendra.