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Radiohead and Deleuze

Radiohead started out in the decaying medium of Rock but evolved out of the cyclical attractor that rules all artistic niches and into the complex topological space of affective intensities that cuts across localised developments (D&G’s plane of immanence). Radiohead are continuing to achieve what few artists do: they are maintaining the intensive threshold that keeps them from falling completely into the gravity well of their medium, which is ruled, like all localised and actualised spaces, more or less, by entropic dynamics. Radiohead are, in my opinion, no longer dionysian rockers, feeding off the energy of a new or not-yet-spent medium, nor are they apollonian formalists playing with dead forms without any intensive gradient to actualize the affective novelty of the virtual (they have soul). They are mature artists—they are in command of their instruments, but they continue to pour their passion into them in new ways, evolving those forms and finding new combinations, not always through exploiting new instruments and mediums like our youth-obsessed culture tends to do to keep the passion alive as the medium is exhausted or the energy dries up, but by true inner originality and sincerity; true soul: inner connection to the potentials of form not defined by its given meaning.

At least that is what I hear. I admit I am obsessed with Radiohead, so I would think they escape the declining phase of their formative genre. But I think they are merely a contemporary example of what can become more common in the future. Dane Rudhyar in his book “Culture Crises and Creativity”, points out how Spengler’s cultural cycles are not the last word; since cultural forms are all tied to environments that have a limited range, then of course they die. But there are developments that cut across and through local niches and forms, converging towards an awareness of the larger space of possibilities. Rudyhar, as a modernist composer, characterised this convergence in music as a move towards more abstract smoothe tonal spaces–pleromas of sound–a conception I think makes the same mistake Gebser did with Modernism: mistaking abstract integration and totalization, for the soulful creativity of intensive awareness. Rather than the modernist gimmick of a totalizing conflation of time and space into representational apotheosis, we can, if artistic and cultural maturity converge into a sustainable system of productive differences, use whatever forms are available to actualize the infinite diversity of the virtual.

There is no shortage of intensity right now emerging out of the nonlinear dynamics of globalization and new possible intensive gradients on the horizon if we can survive this phase. It remains to be seen how many soulful musicians will rise to the challenge.  It definitely seems like, in contrast to the excessive complications of modernism, the most creative movements now are returning to minimalist aesthetics to uncover a new and true spiritual ground in the basic sense ratios and relationships–at least in the most interesting countercultural art, science and music. Unlike the move towards modernist abstraction, where the contextual meaning of forms is lost, avant guard and countercultural experimentation have been more or less groping towards meaning grounded in a pragmatic logic of sense (in the deleuzian, immanent, relational sense) rather than iconic representation. While some may look to cling or return to transcendent meaning defined by fixed codes and genres, the future is in what appeals to the senses, whether that be the crude senses of the pop culture consumer, or the possibility of a more conscious culture of soulful affectivity, the Deleuzian “sense” of infinite relationality,