DANCING WITH GHOSTS

ImageMain Stage at the revered Techno Festival Labyrinth in Japan 2010: Tipi-Design meets Funktion-One Soundsystem.

CAUTION: The following draft is but a first rough sketch of my PhD-project: any feedback is more than welcome.

 

THE GHOST DANCE PARADOX

 

CONCEPTS OF COSMOLOGY, MYTHOLOGY & COLLECTIVITY IN (POST-)COLONIAL & CONTEMPORARY ECSTATIC CULTURE(S)

This thesis aims to outline a contemporary common ground for subjects as diverse as Sociology, Cultural Studies, (Cultural) Anthropology and Philosophy by re-establishing its foundational topic as the question of what separates society (as a concept, e.g. the ‘socius’) from an undisclosed number of individuals. It will argue that in the age of post-postmodernism the dominating school of thought focusses (too much) on the role of the ‘neoliberal’ subject while prematurely excluding current forms of ‘collectivism’ (for lack of a better starting point; not used as a pejorative expression) which question/transform and maintain/reaffirm social order and the organization of today’s society.

Yet these phenomena of collectivism cannot simply be traced back to functionalist or structuralist explanations: their power seems to lie deep within archaic frameworks of consciousness which themselves prove to contain much more persistance and longevity than poststructuralist and/or deconstructionist thought might have initially supposed. Contrary to ‘common sense’ assumptions of an increasingly individualistic outlook on life this paper will therefore argue that the lack of current forms of social cohesion strengthens the return of so-called ‘archaic’ neo-tribal formations.

Furthermore, ‘neotribalism’ (e.g. Maffesoli) – nowadays not based on supposedly similar ancestry, but understood as a shared frame of ‘belonging’ as well as ethics, social practice and belief – might prove to be a driving force between apparently disparate features such as ‘hedonistic’ traits of youth culture, postmodern rites of passage and even ‘reactionary’ tendencies in today’s politics.

A ‘hauntology’ of postmodern dance culture

Tracing back current forms of global subcultural resistance and civil disobedience like ‘dancing for open or public space’ to corporeal practices of resistance among native inhabitants of the northern/western hemisphere as well as oppressed ‘creole’ minorities (e.g. slaves of african heritage) as part of a ‘minoritarian genealogy’ and ‘hauntology’ (Derrida) of today’s capitalist frenzy, this body of research emphasizes the continuing ‘secret wisdom’ and ‘magical rituals’ of ancient civilizations which seem to be passed on in postcolonial ‘tribalistic’ movements and as a result are still present in today’s urban electronic dance music.

Understood as a negotiation of ‘ghosts of the pasts’ or an unexpected memorial service to the violent foundations of our civil society, for instance the genocide of indigenous people as well as slavery and diaspora between the continents, these ‘neo-archaic’ rituals and practices (though closely intertwined with today’s ‘individualism’ and ‘capitalist neoliberalism’) nevertheless evoke the ‘spirit’ of a supposedly already extinct tribal past re-emerging with a vengeance.

Emphasizing the importance of these postmodern recallings of spiritual and sacral practice for social cohesion and integration in an increasingly ‘insecure’ and ‘fragile’ seeming new world order, it will offer a new perspective on so-called ‘archaic’ techniques of intersubjectivity such as trance, transcendence and techniques of ecstasy and the longing for a new form of utopian ‘cosmology’, archetypical ‘mythology’ and religious eschatology in the 21st century.

Abstract/Outline PhD-Project (incl. Appendix), Tara Hill, 12.04.2014

 

0. TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

i.  introduction: embodied resistance: telling minoritarian tales through corporeal practice

ii. preface

hauntology of a massacre: the day, america’s last warrior took an arrow to the knee

 

FIRST PART: UNCIVIL DISOBEDIENCE: RETHINKING THE ‘SAVAGE’

 

A. WAR OF THE WORLDS

 

I. a forgotten genocide: the double obliteration of the ‘savage’

II. dialectic of enlightenment: modernity as a global ‘ground zero’

III. hybrid hermetism: survival of ‘primitive’ culture in colonialism

i. transcripts: oral transmission of nomadic narratives

ii. incorporated practice: resistance through ritual

iii. ghost in a nutshell: sacred messages in a bottle

 

B. DAVID’s WARMACHINES

 

0. cautionary tales: three empirical examples of encoded struggles of/for survival

 

I. pirates of the caribbean: candomblé, vodou & santeria in the black atlantic

. on creole forms of enslaved negro spirituality

 

II. shadowlands & indian burial grounds: a ghost dance on their own grave

. the ghost dance movement as last uprising of the ancestral spirit

 

III. secrets of the sidhe: a yeats-infection of joyce

. crosscultural crosspollination through the great potato famine

 

IV. exhumation: common native ground of three postcolonial diasporic tribes

i. folk lore & folklore

ii. tribal spirit & trance

iii. practical ‘magick’ & witchcraft (acéphale & co.)

iv. commemoration & eschatology

 

V. pagan poetry: the civilized scholar discovers the near-extinct ‘noble savage’

 

VI. in-dependance: the struggle to overcome the aftermath of an ‘empire’

 

C. RECONSTRUCTING CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY: TOWARDS A MINORITARIAN HISTORY OF EVERYTHING

 

I. the social in question: on durkheim, tarde and the sociology of religion

II. ethos and ethnology: mauss’ dangerous gift, bataille’s forbidden truths

III. endangered purity: mary douglas’ keen observations

IV. myth & mythology: campbell vs. saint-barthes

V.  aliens among us: the making of the working class & the emergence of ‘cultural studies’

 

D. GEOPHILOSOPHY: COSMOLOGY & (NON-)LINEAR HISTORY

 

I. panta rhei on planes of immanence: from heraklit to duns scotus

II. display of affection: spinozas ethics

III. nietzsche’s birth of a tragedy: apollon, dionysos & the eternal return of dualism in culture

IV. convolutions: folding foucault

V. a thousand plateaus: after deleuze / guattari

 

E. POSTMODERN UNIVERSALISM: THE ‘SHAMAN’ AS TRANSGLOBAL NATIVE?

 

I. re-reading mircea eliade: the concept of the ‘shaman’

II. shaman academy: the rebirth of ancient wisdom in shaman studies

III. is ixtlan real? casteneda, mckenna & new age thought

IV. neotribes & tribulations: occultism, esoterics or visionary?

V. overcoming the uebermensch – beyond subject & subjectivity: shamanism as spiralling singularity & cyclic collectivity

 

F. TRANSCENDING ‘TRANCE’: AN ADEQUATE NOTION OF ‘ECSTASY’

 

I. analyzing transgression: diversity and different forms of ‘becomings’

II. supreme spiritual enlightenment or pure embodied immanence? the problem of ‘presence’

III. two forms of ‘trance’: entranced or transcending?

IV. ek-static: decentered stance or transgressed movement? (différance & hauntology revisited)

V. catharsis: is there a ‘tipping point’?

VI. the geophilosophy of morals: religion vs. sacrality

 

G. THE BASIC TRUTHS OF ANCIENT WISDOM

 

I.  times table of geophilosophy: the world(s) according to shaman

II. axis mundi and alternate realities: virtuality & material world in the ‘yggdrasil’

III. totemism: guardian spirits, sacred lands, holy animals & shapeshifting

IV. equinox: balancing the cosmos

V. eschatology: apocalyptic prophecies and the restoration of a paradise lost

 

H. SOCIAL OR TRIBAL COMMUNITIES? THE QUESTION OF THE ‘SOCIUS’

 

I. society or collectivism? tribalism reconsidered

II. social and symbolic order

III. a ritualistic perspective on socialisation

IV. ecstatic techniques as social technology of government

V. the shepherd as shaman: wicked witchcraft, supernatural sorcery or cunning technique?

 

I. PROGRESSIVE PROCESS OR RECESS TO REGRESSION? ‘CIVILIZATION’ FROM A MINORITARIAN POINT OF VIEW (summary)

 

SECOND PART

 

PREFACE

a rave upon ruins: the castlemorton tribal gathering spiralling out of control

 

J. SUB, COUNTER- OR POP CULTURE? WESTERN SOCIETY’S STRUGGLE WITH ‘YOUTH MOVEMENTS’

 

I. the difficult defination of ‘youth culture’ in the 20th century: short overview

II. resisting the present – the ‘revolutionary’: adolescent initiation or deviant behavior?

III. the politics of ecstasy: finding the founding principles of the ‘newest youth craze’

IV. fight for your right to party? ritualistic tribes and the culture industry

V. pop: when new social movements become part of mass culture

VI. youth revolutions: 1968 and social transformation

 

G. ‘DANCE MUSIC’ BECOMES ‘DANCE CULTURE’

 

I. separating ‘dance music’ from other/previous dance culture(s): a perilous path

II. ‘electronic’ music, electronic ‘dance music’ or ‘edm’? further clarifications

III. ‘we call it techno’ a stance against the word ‘dance’

IV. mille plateaux: from post-disco to house, from electro to techno: from the two ‘towers’ to uncountable subgenres

V. 25 years of global techno culture: a brief outline, some facts & figures

VI. the ‘problem’ with dance music: resisting integration, defying categorization

 

H. THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT: CHICAGO’S WAREHOUSE CULTURE

 

I. disco: the janus-faced forerunner

II. cast-out ‘lumpenproletariat’: homeless people searching for a ‘house’

III. the sound of the warehouse: new jack city action!

IV. ‘spirituals’ reloaded: deep house & christianity

V. turn on, tune in, space out: the double entendre of ‘acid’

 

I. DETROIT: MOTOR CITY GIVES BIRTH TO A MONSTER

 

I. feeding kraut to a starving moloch: motown turned topsy-turvy

II. dystopia now: the sound of detroit by three ‘bellevilles’

III. cyborgs, model 500 and underground resistance: tribalism meets sci-fi

IV. the sound of nuclear power: political philosophy, guerilla activism and pitch black narratives of sonic warfare

 

J. THE ‘PARADISE GARAGE’: AN AMALGAMIZATION OF SOUND

 

I. fuck studio 54! the real disco scene around mancuso’s loft

II. larry levan’s steep rise to the first world famous ‘dj-shaman’

III. the (hi?)-virus spreads to the old world: ibiza turns into the party island

IV. ‘the black atlantic’ reversed: a young generation becomes ‘slave to the rhythm’

 

K. THE SECOND SUMMER OF LOVE

 

I. acid house-mania meets madchester’s hacienda

II. a sound-matrix goes viral: ‘illegal’ raves spread along the orbital m-25

III. dangerous impurity: police and murdoch’s tabloids play hide & seek till ‘sunrise’

IV. castlemorton: spiral tribe’s vortex reaches vertex

V. the aftermath: thatcherism plays the ‘e’-card – and unleashes a horrific midweek flu

VI. relicts of rave culture: end of the football war, transgressions of race and class culture, even the dawn of new labour

 

L. BERLIN: TECHNO UNITES A DIVIDED CITY, MOVES A CONTINENT, FORMS A BOOMERANG

 

I. pacifiers as peacekeepers: tearing down bricks with beats

II. the ‘love parade’

III. pandora’s prophecies: sven väth & frankfurt’s ‘omen’

IV. ‘trance’, ‘hardcore’, ‘eurohouse’ and the commercial exploit of ‘happy hardcore’

V. spread throughout europa: benelux, scandinavia, switzerland, southern europa, the east

VI. boom boom boom boom – i want you in my room: big-room clubs, mass raves and festivals: the commodification and ibiza-fication of the scene

VII. new age meets nihilism: jungle, goa/psy-trance, gabber: niche techno culture

VIII. techno goes e-music: high-brow compositions, philharmonic essays and the appeal of minimal music & dubtechno to an elitist/nerd-culture (vs. french house mass appeal, indiecore / french house / nu rave hybrids with rock/pop and rap)

VIV. techno goes global: latin america, australia, africa and even asia fall for electronic ‘diaspora’-beats

X. the mayan apocalypse – 2010 & after: techno returns to the usa, but in its most grotesque antics – as ‘EDM’, a las vegas style mass-marketed and event-based, commercialized culture. smelling big business, countless investors jump on the bandwagon and try exploiting the mainstream-trend throughout northern america – and even in europe.

XI. berlin calling – berlin’s infamous club scene and notoriety as ‘techno mekka’ (i.e. berghain, bar 25/kater holzig > holzmarkt) creates an invasion of weekend tourists (easy jetsetters) and ‘techno migration’, leading it to become one of the global culture centres of the world and experiencing a ‘boom’/’boost’ in several sectors.

 

M. THE GHOST IN THE SHELL: TECHNO AS SPIRITUAL REBIRTH OF ANCIENT COLLECTIVISM

 

I. temporary autonomous zones as bodies without organs

II. binaural beats and theta waves as base for hypnotica

III. trance dance in its current guise: equinox & cosmology

IV. collective ecstasy as dionysos’ rite of passage

V. the midweek-flu as melancholy culture

VI. ‘party’ in the ‘club’ – taking part in a secret society

VII. a minoritarian history, a minoritarian politics: PLUR and resistance as integral part of techno culture

VIII. ‘the age of love’: transformation, spiritual and corpereal healing in ‘the age of minorities’ – a schizoanalysis

VIV. binge & purge at the berghain: mythology of the sacred church/ sodom & gomorrha of current techno culture

X. a global diaspora – a creole diatribe?

 

N. NEGOTIATING DIALECTICS: FINDING VIOLENCE AT THE FOUNDATION

 

I. specters of the slaughtered natives: neotribal rites and rituals as mourning

II. ‘parasitical nature of humanist capitalism’: techno culture as chemo-therapy

III. conjuring the savage at a ‘sauvage’: illegal raves ‘reclaim’ our ‘primitive’ origins

IV. forest swords in the concrete jungle: a young generation encounters their ancestors

V. dancing with beowolves: ghosts of the present subculture incorporated

VI. a shock to thought: corporeal becomings – acéphale arising?

 

O. SYNOPSIS: PUTTING THE ‘SHAME’ IN ‘SHAMAN’: THE QUEST FOR DARKNESS AS AN ALTERNATE NARRATIVE OF ‘ENLIGHTENMENT’

 

P. POST SCRIPTUM: SOPHOKLES’ KING OEDIPUS: EQUINOX OR ESCHATOLOGY?

 

Q. APPENDIX

 

R. BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

S. FURTHER READING

 

T. THANKS, BIOGRAPHY & TRIVIA

 

LITERATURE

 

1. Core Reading

 

Joseph Campbell: The Power of Myth

Deleuze & Guattari: A Thousand Plateaus

Deleuze & Guattari: Anti-Oedipus

Deleuze & Guattari: What Is Philosophy?

Deleuze & Guattari: Bartleby, or the Formula

Deleuze & Guattari: Kafka – Towards A Minoritarian Literature

Jacques Derrida: Specters Of Marx

Jacques Derrida: Writing & Difference

Jacques Derrida: Signature, Event, Context

Mary Douglas: Purity & Danger

Emil Durkheim: Les Structures Elementaires De La Vie Réligieuse

Emil Durkheim: Le Suicide

Mircea Eliade: Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy

Mircea Eliade: The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History

Claude Lévi-Strauss: The Savage Mind

Friedrich Nietzsche: Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik

Friedrich Nietzsche: Also sprach Zarathustra

Friedrich Nietzsche: Jenseits von Gut und Böse

 

2. Further Theoretical Reading

 

Giorgio Agamben: Homo Sacer

Jacques Attali: Noise

Homi Babha: The Relocation Of Culture

Hakim Bey: T. A. Z.. The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. Autonomedia Anti-copyright, 1985, 1991.

Georges Bataille: Lascaux; or, the Birth of Art, the Prehistoric Paintings, Austryn Wainhouse, 1955, Lausanne: Skira.

  • Literature and Evil, Alastair Hamilton, 1973, Calder & Boyars Ltd.
  • Visions of Excess: Selected Writings 1927-1939, Allan Stoekl, Carl R. Lovitt, and Donald M. Leslie, Jr., 1985, University of Minnesota Press.
  • Erotism: Death and Sensuality, Mary Dalwood, 1986, City Lights Books.
  • Story of the Eye, Joachim Neugroschel, 1987, City Lights Books.
  • The Accursed Share: An Essay On General Economy. Volume I: Consumption, Robert Hurley, 1988, Zone Books.
  • The College of Sociology, 1937–39 (Bataille et al.), Betsy Wing, 1988, University of Minnesota Press.

Baruch de Spinoza: Tractatus theologico-politicus

Baruch de Spinoza: Ethics

Manuel DeLanda: A Thousand Years Of Nonlinear History

Frederick Douglass: Double Consciousness

John Duns Scotus: contingency and freedom. Lectura I 39

Kodwo Eshun: Brighter Than the Sun

Paul Gilroy: The Black Atlantic. Modernity & Double Consciousness.

Stuart Hall: Resistance through Ritual

Donna Haraway: The Cyborg Manifesto

G.S. Kirk (1954): Heraclitus, the Cosmic Fragments.

Bruno Latour: the Pasteurisation of France

Bruno Latour: ANT

Marcel Mauss: The Gift

Michel Serres: The Parasite

Michel Serres: Five Senses

Gayatri Spivak: Can the Subaltern Speak?

Edward Said: Orientalism

Gabriel Tarde: The Laws of Imitation

Gabriel Tarde: Monadology & Sociology

 

3. Case Studies and Empirical Research

 

Oral History on the ‘Natives’:

 

Dee Brown: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

Ernie La Pointe: Sitting Bull

Thomas Mails: Fools Crow. Weisheit & Kraft. Das indianische Heilwissen des Schamanen Fools Crow

Häuptling Seattle: Die Reden der grossen Indianerhäuptlinge

 

On Shamanism:

 

Axel Brück: Schamanische Ritualmusik und die Kraft der Klänge

Michael Harner: The Way of the Shaman: Core Shamanism

Terence Mckenna: Shamanism and the Return of the Archaic

Ralph Metzner: Der Brunnen der Erinnerung: Die mythologischen und schamanischen Wurzeln unserer Kultur.

 

Postcolonial Research:

 

Christopher Bracken: The Potlatch Papers: A Colonial Case History. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1997

Aldona Jonaitis: Discovering Totem Poles. University of Washington Press, Seattle 2012

Françoise Lionnet: Postcolonial Representations: Women, Literature, Identity.

Anne McClintock: Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race. In: R. J. C. Yonung: Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Context.

Ann Laura Stoler: Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things.

 

On Techno & Dance Culture:

 

B. Brewster & F. Broughton: Last Night A DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey. Cambridge, Grove Press, 2000.

E. Davis: Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998.

B. Ehrenreich: Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy.

B. Ehrenreich: Blood Rituals.

J. Fritz: Rave Culture: An Insider’s Overview, Canada: Smallfry Press, 1999.

J. Gilbert & E. Pearson: Discographies: Dance Music, Culture and the Politics of Sound, London: Routledge, 1999.

D. Hill: “Mobile Anarchy: the house movement, shamanism and community,” in T. Lyttle (ed) Psychedelics Reimagined, New York: Autonomedia, 1999.

R. Hollands: “Divisions in the Dark: youth cultures, transitions and segmented consumption spaces in the night-time economy,” Journal of Youth Studies, Volume 5, number 2 (2002), pp. 153-171.

S. Hutson: “Technoshamanism: spiritual healing in the rave subculture,” Popular Music and Society, Volume 23, number 3 (1999), pp. 53-77.

S. Hutson: “The rave: spiritual healing in modern western subcultures,” Anthropological Quarterly, Volume 73, number 1 (2000), pp. 35-49.

M. Maffesoli: The Time of the Tribes: The Decline of Individualism in Mass Society, London: SAGE, 1996.

B. Malbon: Clubbing: Dancing, Ecstasy and Vitality, London: Routledge, 1999.

George McKay (ed): DiY Culture: Party and Protest in Nineties Britain, London: Verso, 1998.

Michael Niman: People of the Rainbow: A Nomadic Utopia, Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1997.

Norient. Out of the Absurdity of Life: Global Music

Sarah Pike, Earthly Bodies, Magic Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

S. Redhead (ed): Rave Off: Politics and Deviance in Contemporary Youth Culture, Aldershot: Avebury, 1993.

S. Redhead (ed): The Clubcultures Reader: Readings in Popular Cultural Studies, Blackwell: Oxford, 1997.

Graham St. John (ed): FreeNRG: Notes From The Edge of the Dance Floor, Melbourne: Common Ground Publishing, 2001.

Graham St. John (ed): Rave Culture and Religion, London: Routledge, 2004.

P. Sullivan: Remixology: Tracing the Dub Diaspora. Reverb, 2014.

Tobias Rapp: Lost and Sound. Berlin, Techno & der Easy Jetset

Simon Reynolds: The Rave Generation

Sven von Thülen / Felix Denk: Der Klang der Familie – Berlin, Techno & die Wende

S. Thornton, Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995.

 

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