Editorial Suggestions

by Lex Bhagat


From: lex bhagat < alexis@onebox.com>
Subject: RE: editorial suggestions?
Date: July 21, 2006 6:36:22 AM PDT
To: editors@joaap.org

Dear Marc, Cara and Christina,

Thanks for your email 1 and for the Call (which is fascinating!) I'm not too sure how to answer your question, but here's a few thoughts:

Culturalist direction:

(1) I don't pay too much attention to bands, so I passed this question along to Joe Milutis (the author of the book, "ETHER: The Nothing that Connects Everything" - Minnesota, 2006) and here are his first thoughts:

Theresa Columbus / "Darling Hall" (Milwaukee)
Kent Lambert (Chicago)
Anna Oxygen
Kursego Back (Columbia, SC)
Captain Ahab (LA)

I don't know much about any of these folks, but I'm passing them along in case they provoke any associations on your end.

(2) Dreaming in public: Gregory Whitehead

(3) Thinking a bit more widely about your call and your question, I would suggest Brenda Hutchinson's work with recorded speech. I'm attaching my 2002 interview with her (which I did for Sound Generation) to give you an introduction to her. Maybe she would send you a sound work for the issue? (Also, if you're interested, I could edit this interview and include a new afterword, or a few additional questions.)

(4) One of the most fascinating living writers on speech I've come across in recent years is Rukmini Bhaya Nair, a professor of linguistics at IIT in Delhi. She's an award winning poet, though none of the poems I've read have excited me much... but her book "Narrative Gravity" is completely amazing! If she contributed to the issue... wow. (or maybe she would suggest one of her students...)
Send her the Call! http://paniit.iitd.ac.in/~rukmini/

Political direction:

(5) There are no more soapboxes. (The story of soapboxes, and their role in communist organizing, would be an interesting inclusion. Maybe find some accounts from an old oral history?) What does it matter who gives a good speech these days? Think back to the Democratic primary of 2004, those debates where Dennis Kucinich kept dropping bombs that brought out standing ovations. What did it matter? How many votes did he get? Like 4% or something? The machine made it clear that Kerry, Edwards and Dean were the only LEGITIMATE candidates. (Yet, the Democratic primary did create a forum for so much suppressed speech to make its way to the media, to be broadcast, to be released. Spoken-heard-forgotten. If not for such a Primary, perhaps the Democratic Party would have died from cancer, from repression?)

[Why could obvious observations about the suspiciousness of Halliburton contracts only be pronounced on television by the likes of Al Sharpton?]

(6) "Good speeches" - these are EVENTS. This is all so historic, in the sense of coming from the past, and in the sense of comprising history. (At a great speech, we can feel the advance of history, the impact on posterity, the singularity of the moment.)

I oppose (contrapose?) EVENTS to CONTINUITIES, the historic versus the everyday. What about everyday speech? Not just wo/man on the street speech, not just "private conversation", but everyday speech as in speeches which are delivered as an everyday repeating occurrence as opposed to an historic event? The radio comes to mind: the distinction between EVENT to CONTINUITY clarifies if we consider a Presidential Address (especially a Bush address, which is a major Hollywood production) versus the "President's Weekly Radio Address" (invisible and practically unheard.) Both are official speech, but one is stone and the other is water.

Thinking of CONTINUOUS SPEECH (water) as opposed to EVENT SPEECH (stone), Amy Goodman's exemplary continuous performance cannot be under-rated. (This opposition gives some explanation of why her elevation to pseudo-celebrity status since 2001 and her jetting around to give "speeches" (Speaking Events) precisely serves to undermine her...)

(7) In the world of EVENT-SPEECH, Arundhati Roy always surprises me by being so consistently wonderful... but who is she speaking TO? Or FOR?

In India she is often speaking for the NBA (Narmada Bancho Andolan) to English-speaking Urban Middle-Class Society. But, in America she seems to just speak, for the sake of speaking beautifully, to the amorphous liberal-left. This points to the contemporary ambiguity of movements.

(8) The relationship of movements to speakers deserves to be explored: Historically (in modern times, since 1780s) it has been political movements which have nurtured great speakers. The dissolution of movements and the dissolution of speakers goes hand-in-hand, maybe? I can't draw conclusions here: This needs further investigation.

[Are we no longer allowed to speak "for" someone? Even Lewis Mumford spoke "for" a movement, having researched several of his greatest books while also acting as the spokesman for the Regional Planning Association of America.] [Are we now expected to speak for ourselves only? What are the implications of this? Cindy Sheehan speaks for HERSELF, "as a mother," which has resonance... but then any support becomes suspicious and "emboldens" detractors: "She's getting money. She's not really speaking for herself."]

[The relationship of politics and speech has great significance in modern times, because the "common good" of Republican political formations needs to be DETERMINED, and it is determined through public speech... Socialist revolutionary movements are either mutants or heirs of the Republican revolution, and so public speech proliferates, so many forums for the determination of the true "common good." This goes back to the SOAPBOX.]

(9) Tangent on Speech: You may want to check out Michel deCerteau's "CAPTURE OF SPEECH."

(10) Another tangent on the Radio: Gore Vidal's contemporaneous Sunday talks on WBAI... or contemporaneous radio address in general (unscripted... the antithesis of "prompting.") (wandering lips as opposed to "talking heads")

(11) What aspects of speech do we attribute to the lips? And to the teeth? And what to the throat? And what to the tongue? And what to the lungs? And to the heart?
Not physically, but metaphorically? An analysis of metaphors and associations here may be useful... Maybe I should go out with a microphone and ask people?

Ok, that's it for now. A few morning thoughts. If you found this helpful, let's continue the discussion.

As always, I wish you great luck with the JA&P, because they keep on winning and so I'm glad you're working on changing the rules of the game.


PS: Proposal deadline noted.
PPS: If you come across Sarah L. out there in LA LA LAnd, please send her my sweetest regards.


-----Original Message-----
From: journal of aesthetics and protest #5<editors@joaap.org>
Sent: Tue, 18 Jul 2006 01:36:06 +0200
To: lex bhagat
Subject: editorial suggestions?


we are beginning to put together our fifth issue of the Journal of
Aesthetics and Protest. We are focusing on speeches and public performances.

I am writing to send you the submission call below, and to specifically
ask you for suggestions.

you seem to have so many different directions, so it’s wonderfully
difficult to be specific with you, but I'll try two directions...

culturalist direction-
As music and cultural venues is one of the prime spaces where US-Americans
experience dreaming in public and where they try on/participate in the creation of different possibilities- we are looking for bands or
performers with either amazing stage banter and/or whose audience/band
experience is unique and charged.

Who is good at creating interesting shows that invite in dreaming and
creation? Who do you think do their politics well and communicates it?
Any names and contact information, including any music or cultural
writers who might be interested in such a subject would be more then

who is making good political speeches at the grassroots today? if you
don't know, do you know of a writer who might?

in kindest regards,

Marc Herbst
coeditor, issue 5 with Cara Baldwin and Christina Ulke