Mimesis and Cruelty

in The Philosophy of Improvisation

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780226662787
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226662800 | DOI:
Mimesis and Cruelty

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This chapter addresses a range of anti-improvisatory positions as traced across the comments of such artists and writers as Theodor Adorno, Pierre Boulez, Luciano Berio, Antonin Artaud, and others. Adorno, Boulez, Berio, John Cage, Gavin Bryars, Artaud, and even Jacques Derrida (a complicated case) have important and not always kind things to say on the subject that cannot be avoided if a serious case for improvisation is to be made. It is the principles of individuation and freedom that Adorno discovers to be the founding ideas that inform what he describes as the “ballyhoo” surrounding jazz improvisation. His aesthetic theory promotes a mimeticism that has nothing to do with imitating or copying that which is already given. Discourses on improvisation are sadly lacking in irony both at the level of form and of content.

Keywords: Theodor Adorno; Pierre Boulez; Luciano Berio; Antonin Artaud; John Cage; Gavin Bryars; mimeticism; irony

Chapter.  17075 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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