I worked briefly as a temp in an office in Scotland, at this place that handled standardized tests. Another temp and I bonded over our interests in obscure music, though he liked somewhat different music than I was into, and our common love of Nick Hornby novels. At one point we were talking with another fellow temp about books. The two of us said we really liked Hornby and she said she had read High Fidelity and found the main character a total jerk (which is a fair judgment I think). We said, ‘really? we totally related to him,’ which put us all in an awkward position on two fronts – she’d dissed a book we liked and had implied that we were jerks. Our way out of that awkward spot was to talk about the bit in the novel where the protagonist makes a mix tape for someone he’s romantically interested in.

That paragraph is how this post was going to start. But when I sat down at the computer to bang out my 500 words I happened to check the Dashboard (that’s part of the behind the scenes control center in the WhatInTheHell Cave) and noticed that NP had made a post about my last post. So I now post about her post about my post. If this continues, then this whole 500 words a day thing is totally in the bag. The extra funny bit is that the post I was going to write was actually _also_ about my last post. Well, it wasn’t really. But it was sort of a continuation of it, or at least a tangent that I thought of in relation to it. But that post is a not-yet-post, a post-to-come. (Hey I just read that last sentence from the “But” onward and I have to say, I think “not-yet post” and “post to-come” are really really funny terms, if I do say so myself, as long as one thinks that jokes about obscure theoretical stuff are funny [which I do], in that the “not-yet post” and “post to-come” [n-yp and pt-c] could refer [not as I’d intended them, to refer to some writing I’m going to do later on this blog but] to past, that is, if “post” is taken in the temporal sense like as in “post-Civil war” or “post- fall of the Berlin Wall” or “postmodernity.” In that case, n-yp and pt-c would refer to point far in the future when another point in time [like the present, or a moment in the future but not so far in the future] has become the past. I think these terms provide much in the way of potential mockery of theoretical vocabularies and utterances which like to use “not-yet” and “to-come.” Which I like. But I digress [from this post which is itself a digression; if I was *really* ambitious I would now open another digression about my own digressive tendencies, about digression as story-telling device, and about the nature of digression itself, which would make that digression – one which does not exist in the present, such that it can be called not-yet digression or a digression to-come – a metadigression. I will resist that temptation at present.].)


NP alludes to a possible disagreement between us, a parting of ways. I expect that this is because in my post I celebrated that despairing songs lack a positive (in the sense of “non-despairing”) lyrical content while enacting a positive content via the performance of the songs, and I celebrated that split. I hope she says more about this. For now:

First, NP describes her “work as an experiment predicated on the hope that we might become much more powerful, if we can also somehow learn to express and understand the potentials we collectively enact.” I have no objection to that and like it. And I’m not valorizing the division between lyrical (propositional) content and emotional (performative) content such that I recommend it. Well, okay, I am, but I’m doing so in two distinct ways –
a) aesthetically (I just like that in music)
b) having a particular use which is valuable but not _more_ valuable than that non-divided (the terms are clumsy, I hope this is clear) thing that NP I think wants, but also valuable.

Second, I didn’t mean to make a claim in my post, but I think I can’t avoid making at least two:

1. There are some subjective problems of orientation towards proposition which can not be resolved by the use of correct propositional content in argument (or, at a minimum, which can be resolved via non-propositional content)
2. Music has solved some of these problems.

Both of these are drawn from my experience. In the first, by “subjective problem of orientation” I mean among other things my own experience (I’m sure partly a matter of brain chemistry and depression, but I don’t think reducible to these) of believing in certain things but not really believing in them. That is, I have had times of believing things about the need for and possibility of dramatic overhaul in economic and gender-and-sexuality social relations, where ‘belief in” means agreeing with or affirming certain propositions. At the same time, I have not believed in those things, where “belief” means actually being able to imagine and have some measure of confidence in the change actually happening. At a non-political level, in moments of feeling down, I’ve _known_ that and said out loud that things will get better eventually while also having the feeling that (and acting as if – taking as the operating principle implied in my other actions and beliefs – I knew that) things would never get better.

In these instances, it was the feeling part that was the problem. I was not going to be argued via reason alone into feeling optimistic or being happier. But I could be sort of taught to feel optimistic/less despairing, music addressed that stuff. What I think is particularly valuable about the combination I mention in my post (I mean, I also just like it, but I think there’s more there) is that the combination of propositional content which does not contain something better showing up (or which contains the proposition “things will not get better”) is paired with a social action which I want to say implies an unstated future-directed operating principle.

This also applies to another condition I’ve found myself in, which is situations where I _haven’t_ known/believed (in the sense of agreeing with or affirming propositions) that things would change. That’s the other thing where this sad music is useful. It says/shows that one can (teaches one to?) have the future-directed operating principle not only when one believes in (agrees with) the possibility of change but can’t imagine change, but also when one _doesn’t_ believe in that possibility. What I like about that is it shows that one can act like things will get better even when finds oneself unable to find _arguments_ for doing so. This is, I think, something like what goes on when one gets involved in things which are a sort of wager: “I think we’re all going to get fired, but I think it’s worth trying to form this union; if we all just say we can’t then we definitely can’t but if we all say maybe we can then we at least have a shot. We have no shot at all if we don’t even try.”