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portada programa hirugarren belarria 2012
September 10, 2012 - September 14, 2012

hirugarren belarria 2012

on transgression

O people that I know

It is enough for me to hear the noise of their footsteps

To be forever able to indicate the direction they have taken

Guillaume Apollinaire, Cortege, 1920


The task of this, the latest Hirugarren Belarria seminar is to extend our perception, through sound, listening and music, of certain rhetorical and dramatic devices that form part of our social environment. In the first seminar we said that, due to its own irreducibility to discourse, sound (music) is an especially fertile ground for tentative explorations of the sacred. The boundaries we find, time after time, when speaking about the "sacred" and "sound", has led us, in this new seminar, to invite a number of guest speakers to reflect upon the meaning of the notion of transgression.

For Nietzsche, in his The birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music, Dionysian music (something like will itself) arises from the rupture and transgression of the Nomos of ancient Greece. The ecstasy of Dionysian sound burst upon a world of appearances and intensified the body to the extent that this made it another: "Not the symbolism of the mouth, of the face of the word, but the full gesture of dance that moves every member rhythmically".

In a text dating from ancient Greece, Victor Shklovski found an anecdote about a prince who was enraptured by dance during his wedding celebration: " the point that he took off his clothes and, naked, began to dance on his hands. Annoyed, the King, father of the bride, shouted at him: 'Prince, due to your dancing you have destroyed your marriage'. 'I don't care', answered the prince and continued to dance on his hands".

Some of these examples of otherness that the rhythm of music and dance are capable of generating, may be included in that space that the anthropologist Victor Turner described as the preliminary phase of a rite of passage. The place where the agent is an incomplete being. Someone who "is neither one or the other", but may, simultaneously and transitorily, be both conditions the person is experiencing.

The relationship between the sacred and transgression was pointed out repeatedly by George Bataille. The question was exemplified in an aphorism of Marcel Mauss (who had a great influence on the School of French sociology), who said: "taboos were conceived to be violated".

Today, in programmed leisure, in the music and dance of the masses, we find the frenetic, the orgiastic, and the tragic. Thus, in the darkness of any discotheque, we can find and experience a (perhaps domesticated) sense of the tragic, like a canned frenzy, but an experience nevertheless. The search for otherness, the fleeing from the world, the fleeing from oneself, remain the same. Everyone wants to be another.

In a book by Javier Echeverría that delves into the relationships between thought and play, after pointing out the close collaboration established between the Ego and God when subjecting the body to an established order, surprisingly, the author dedicates a chapter to the riau-riau. In this ritual exercise, political battle and dance, Echeverría sees an activity freed of any purpose, goal or achievement other than gaining space for the continuation of the dance.

In effect, and just like a musical interval, the fiesta is a temporary state of emergency. According to Manuel Delgado, in some ways, the fiesta has no duration. It places on hold, therefore, the same future of which it is the very exaltation. This time transgression (of which the carnival would be the clearest exponent) plays a key role when putting into order the temporality of the society in which it is inscribed.

At another level, it should be pointed out that modernity, far from disenchanting the world, would have consecrated (with the transgression as its spearhead) the most diverse forms of experiencing the world. In this regard, we might mention Taussig's observation about the movement of modernity from religion to the discourse of drugs: "After making drugs illegal and establishing extraordinary penalties for the very use and sale of drugs, modern societies and especially the United States, have succeeded in taking the logic of taboo and the transgression that underlies the sacred to their most terrible levels of perfection".

Thus, the aim of modern rationality to abolish the sacred has, in reality, been nothing but an attempt to abolish the conflict that underlies its logic; an attempt to convert the sacred into a unique, ubiquitous space, capable of interfering in the most hidden depths of human conduct. 

In Estrangement from the World, Peter Sloterdijk points out the relationships between the sacred and the use of substances as a form of escape from the "excessive demands of existence". An escape in which listening is taken as a kind of model: "Since earphones were invented, the principle of disconnection from the world has progressed in modern music consumption and also at a device level. Based on the above, a drug-theory evolution of all the forms of the most "subtle" ambiences of modernity is ever nearer. Today, a contemporary culture phenomenon that does not show signs of quasi musical techniques in order to distance oneself from the world is highly improbable. The most modern cocooning, the massive emigrations of modern subjects to the inaccessible interior of retreats, parties and symbiosis, would not be possible without the immersion in the tonal menu of the sound installation. Isolation from the world is the minimum common denominator of the polyescapist society."

This Hirugarren Belarria seminar will try to describe the ways in which the sacred, with all its ambiguities, is presented to us today: the new uses it makes of the things and violence it appears with on stage, the costumes and the voices with which it is presented, the multiple faces with which it has not stopped terrifying the world for one moment.