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Elder Ones, "From Untruth," and a Threat Called New York: An Essay

Arian Bagheri Pour Fallah By

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A brief look at prominent, socio-politically charged American jazz and improvised music from the 1960s, among them Sonny's Time Now, may help impart the turn. With Sunny Murray, cynical playfulness prevails but never in the context of a grand narrative. If anything, "the freedom boys" would upset both modal and quasi-classical inclinations of the time, running counter to grandeur roundly and in full, in a manner all too excessive even for the punks-to-be. There existed for them no Other outside of the sheer incongruity and dementia of creation itself. So if we find ourselves today, hesitant to move into the margins, to appear exposed and all too abject, deliberating free improvisation without reservation, if assuming the Other and maintaining an other grandeur appears as the only way to overcome, when truly subversive paths appear all exhausted and in mass circulation, if words such as subaltern need be invoked, and if media's celebration of a post-truth politics renders inevitable critical inquiries into that which comes after truth itself, we may be slowly forgetting one primordial rule: that elder ones, be they senior journalists, institutions or ethnic ancestors, must be violated, suspected, and continually resisted, for any creative endeavor to flourish, just as modernity is, so readily suspected in regard to ethical questions, and one should not make light of the utter and empirical record of modernity, that despite its amoral, industrial connotations for those who enjoy, or can in theory enjoy, its benefits in the modern world, too came to be as a direct result of a rigorous, creative opposition to the very aphorisms reawakened today, its economic, mercantile conditions nothing but a byproduct.

This is the exclusive reason explaining developing countries outside of global and political arrangements, developing countries whose lackluster and/or sheer lack of a prevalent creative enterprise (which is considered secondary to economic impulses on the basis of which development is at large defined today) is both undeniable and explicably identifiable, as in the case of those at their forefront, e.g. China, where out of modernity's many ethos only its mercantile incentives have been adopted, thanks to Friedman and other gurus of free trade, where figures like Zhao Liang are few and far between—which is why an ethnography of the modern world, of America, is of man as we know him, and in no way limited to the territory as such. China, the future home of capital or not, is for this reason, no more than a dead ringer of America, of the modern, moral world, where immorality tends to shock the outside observer but rarely incite any fundamental questions about its frame of reference.

More concerningly, ravages of truths and facts in current political air have slowly defaced the need for hermeneutics, in fields that most require it, and this is uniquely the germ of notions, ethnic origin, as well as biologic parallelisms on which the new appeal of the Right rests. It would be easy and just about as dangerous, for a truly radical Left, and not the neoliberal Left, to play the same cards. For power has grown immune to spooks, and Fordism discreetly a means to regiment spooks. The propensity to hold symbols accountable, as with Geertz, is no less improbable today than looking for and/or insisting on perils of ideology. On the other end, it is imperative for queries on man to move away from ends and estates altogether, which is why and in which sense this study bears the label essay with no addition and/or mention of economic anthropology or urban studies, both of which may very well have been present/absent as sous rature and in a subtitle, that is, in the strict sense of essais, from Montaigne to Leiris, resisting authentications, convictions, and validations of institutional study, of preservation.

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