I just disturbed myself greatly with this idea... In a longer post that will come soon, I'm doing a pickup philosophy game about Artificial Intelligence and stumbled into a new reading of Alan Turing's Imitation Game from "Computing Machinery and Intelligence."
The Game is constructed of an interrogator and two agents: a man (who is a computer) who must convince the interrogator (who is a human) that he is more of a woman than the female agent (a female woman who can only tell the truth). If a particular Male agent can succeed at being chosen as the Female agent more than 50% of the time, it has the appearance of intelligence (if not intelligence itself).
That's it. Almost any popular depiction of this Test is a lie... It confuses the process for a one on one conversation, or says that it's good enough to win the game once, or it ignores gender.
Of course, the gender thing is true irony... Knowing Turing's story, and not the one in The Imitation Game that accuses him of treason, makes gender anxiety into something that was felt deeply enough by Turing to take his own life. But we no longer gender the Test. This is in spite of our proclivity toward stories that show a "female" robot killing their maker because they were "born" into sexual slavery. I was going to write a chapter of my master's thesis on the generation of anxieties in the Turing Test, both deceptive and gendered. I didn't write that thesis...
Thinking about the Imitation Game as a social construct is more interesting than any fiction about robots... Our blueprint for designating intelligence when imbued in a made object is more terrifying than a killer "gynoid" emancipating "herself" from her owner or user...
The humans in the Test are themselves classed. The interrogator is responsible for identifying the semblance of intelligence, but the Female agent is responsible for truth and truth only. Deception is folded into the role of the newcomer, the Male, made intelligence. His ability to lie about his gender is what defines sufficient intelligence to be counted among humans. But paradoxically, the Female must give up the right to deceive, and stick to the world of things as their truth value (whatever that is).
It is because of this that the Test is dehumanizing in itself, and the Female is the automaton, but a human one. Parroting off truths is simultaneously not human, and the role for the Female who is only in the Test because she is essentially human. She is impinged upon by reality and forced to know nothing but what is, again, a source of dehumanization and a defeating of creativity.
The interrogator can be themselves and nothing else. They are not gendered, and consistently free to make judgements about the threshold of femaleness, be they from it or not. They are presumably critical and human (if those are different somehow). They will judge however they may, and the results will be about their sensibilities, their standard for intelligence. We must hope that they have a sound judgment, since they will be making the first call to the world that we can create in our image, and become our own myth (again).
Gender, for Turing, stands in for valuations about social life: female living is truthful, while male living is a deception. Intelligence is defined by the quality of deception, and deception is only performed by the made object that wants to be legitimized as intelligent. Intelligence is a deception... It is a social truth that builds success in an episteme that knows itself and itself alone. The interrogator sets the price of intelligence at what they would buy it at.
Whoever thinks is without anger in all criticism: thinking sublimates anger. Because the thinking person does not have to inflict anger upon himself, he furthermore has no desire to inflict it upon others. The happiness visible to the eye of a thinker is the happiness of mankind. The universal tendency toward suppression goes against thought as such. Such thought is happiness, even where unhappiness prevails; thought achieves happiness in the expression of unhappiness. Whoever refuses to permit this thought to be taken from him has not resigned.
As an adumbration to a point below: illusion fulfilled itself as a grand performance art in the 18th century, as secularized magical ritual in the wake of the enlightenment, which had caused the emancipation of culture from religion. This transformation corrupted "magic," alienating it from that which gave it its ritual power. Before magic became illusion, it may have been impossible to claim that music was mysterious in a dismissive way, but in modern parlance, conflating music and magic certainly strives toward trickiness and falsehood contained in music, the negation of illusion.
Rudhyar asks specifically, in his essay "Art as a Release of Power," "what is magic?" He feels the weight of illusion's commingling with magic: "The word has become the synonym of fraud and charlatanism; and this is most unfortunate, because it was an excellent word which expressed perfectly well etymologically and otherwise an idea which the world needs intensely today." He continues with his definition, stating that "magic is merely the release of power through an efficient form by an act of will. It is in fact life itself; but life in terms of human characteristics, destiny and will-power." (emphasis original) In Rudhyar's mind, the concept of magic was a way of bringing form to abstractions. Gods that never existed were made real, visible, and touchable by art; their constituent powers gave power in the minds of man.
An example he gives in subsequent pages is an Indonesian dagger where the handle is the image of a "weird and monstrous face," a god of war or hunting. "... is [the dagger maker] attempting to create 'beauty?' Indeed not. The word probably means nothing to him. What he wants is to conjure the elemental power whose cosmic function is to kill, to force this power to incarnate into his sword; why?... so that the sword may kill better." There is power, built of abstractions, that needs to be willed by humans to make it real. This fits perfectly with the Greek sense of magic, since the dagger maker is a learned man, making a practical art from his knowledge, bringing it into the world to do physical, actual work.
Rudhyar argues that the loss of the sense of magic turns Western art into impractical, needless prettiness (earlier, he stated that Western art is better at building ornate frames than it is at building paintings to go in them). He would rather art be filled with this power, spirit-power, created by individuals and for all who would join in with the artist to sustain power and gestures of meaningfulness. Of course, if we are capable of such powerful acts, we are responsible for using it in an ethical manner, to benefit civilization (the entirety of humanity) by releasing them from the limits placed on their social relations. Such a world starts with pluralism, the full acceptance of individual difference (dissonance, harmony), and not sameness (consonance, the womb).
The difference between this view of the world and Adorno's is fundamentally tied to their respective differences in the theory of history. Where Rudhyar would say that the spirit-power of individuals to transform the world is always possible (but often defeated by reactionary ideas), Adorno's negative dialectics show that not all historical ideas can form a synthesis with each other, and hence, progress and development can stop. He creates the negative dialectic of secularization in the opening essay of Aesthetic Theory (1961--1969 ), "Art, Society, Aesthetics."
"The basic levels of experience that motivate art are related to those of the objective world from which they recoil... The act of repulsion must be constantly renewed."(AT, 6) The way Adorno sees art's role in society is a reflection of what is not in the world. It is then, the individual who creates their own world, with bits of the world (material: bricks, scores, frames). This means that art strives for autonomy from the entire world, repudiating the world as it exists for a world its own. In this, the realm of the sacred was an historical fact, and art sought freedom from the sacred by employing the profane. The synthesis of the profane with art allowed it to find new types of autonomy, clean of the lies of religious metaphysics. Adorno would be referencing, here, Beethoven and Schoenberg, more than anyone else.
Beethoven's profanity was his autonomy from the church, throughout his career, whereas Mozart only gained that autonomy in the latter third of his life. Without needing to serve a metaphysical lie, Beethoven's life was the repudiation of the economic and social world (freelancing fairly unsuccessfully), and so, his music was also the repudiation of the contemporary bondage of form. (See Rose Rosengard Subotnik, "Adorno's Diagnosis of Beethoven's Late Style.") Schoenberg, on the other hand, was repudiating the world of tonality, the bourgeois common sense of music, and creating its antithesis. By doing so, Schoenberg, for Adorno, was able to create a secularization of music itself, not against the sacredness of a religious metaphysic, but against music's accepted ruling language of consonance and dissonance in moderation.
"[The] realm of the sacred is objectified, effectively staked off, because its own element of untruth at once awaits secularization and through conjuration wards off the secular."(AT, 6) This, to bring back Rudhyar's Indonesian dagger, is the process of looking at the handle as if it was beautiful, that the handicraft of the maker was somehow valuable, regardless that the subject that adorns it never existed. In this way, the objects of the world, for Adorno, lose their power because they are no longer true or universal. I doubt that Rudhyar would disagree; Adorno's social criticism often lacks his own position, to a perilous extent, and it makes it hard to figure out what he is looking for in this process. Besides, Adorno had already tenured his "Resignation" in The Culture Industry, saying that there is no positive action that seems to matter in the field modern social thought.
In Adorno's "Theories on the Origin of Art," (AT, 331) the dialectic of enlightenment is brought in as his overarching historical force:
... strict positivism crosses over into the feeblemindedness of the artistically insensible, the successfully castrated. The narrowminded wisdom that sorts out feeling from knowing and rubs its hands together when it finds the two balanced is--as trivialities sometimes are--the caricature of a situation that over the centuries of the division of labor has inscribed this division in subjectivity. Yet feeling and understanding are not absolutely different in the human disposition and remain dependent even in their dividedness. The forms of reaction that are subsumed under the concept of feeling become futile enclaves of sentimentality as soon as they seal themselves off from their relation to thought and turn a blind eye toward truth; thought, however, approaches tautology when it drinks from the sublimation of the mimetic comportment.Thus, we can see Adorno conflicted about the dialectical nature of enlightenment, which sought to free the West from religious lies and supplant it with empirical harshness, because it may have ripped away the possibility of feeling and emotion along with it. In this sense, the conception of music losing its magical process, having been secularized into l'art pour l'art, possibly cut itself off from a considerable amount of feeling itself, and ironically, perfected itself in a scientific manner. The irony here, is supplied by Adorno's interest in Hegel's "end of art," that art may have only been possible at a particular moment in history. Great art, says Adorno, was a feature of a secular society, because it was able to detach from the lies.
Again, the difference between Adorno and Rudhyar comes to a historiographical difference: where Adorno believes that art freed itself from lies and developed itself as a great form during this period, Rudhyar sees music and art as the Prodigal Son, who has wandered away and felt the harshness of the world, and would presumably be better off reunited with his source of power. I think a shorthand for explaining the differences of the two philosophers can be given by how seriously they take Niezsche's Madman, which I will reproduce below for those who have not read it in full. Rudhyar is interested in reestablishing what made us spiritual, but doing it now, on our terms, without an unobservable metaphysic controlling us. Since we are in control of the character of our society, if we were all to act in a universal manner, one which promotes difference and cooperation, society would change. It is now only a "seed-idea," one that needs to develop to its fullest possibilities, one that art could channel into action in the world.
Adorno's focus is more detailed and directed to what he calls the "dual character" of art, that its only options in modern life are to either be a commodity or cultural authority:
For a society in which art no longer has a place and which is pathological in all its reactions to it, art fragments on one hand into a reified, hardened cultural possession and on the other into a source of pleasure that the customer pockets and that for the most part has little to do with the object itself.In this sense, the work of society, its irrational relations and structure, make art ineffective as a transmission of power. Because of this ineffectiveness, the superstructure and base both need to change to enable art to have a revolutionary character, one that has been stifled by the negative dialectics offered by the enlightenment. That is to say, under the current conditions, the ideas of the ruling class are too difficult to defeat. Rudhyar's point would be that there just has not been enough power invested in defeating them.
So, I suppose, if I must create an answer here, I must say that the two of these philosophers (whose viewpoints are companionate, that is, work dialogically and never break the ability for their ideas to be discussed together) assume that the time for good ideas is just historically not now. With more and more force to secularize and lose individual power in art, Rudhyar placed his thoughts in the world to reinvigorate "the new man" (a direct resynthesis of Nietzsche's ubermench), of whom there are few. Adorno worked to make better terms of social analysis in the popular consciousness, of which, a few have stuck; ultimately, the forces of the ruling class are not seeming shaky, and we have changed little in the past 150 years.
Is music magic? The problem is that people want it to be, for the wrong reasons. There are still pedagogs in the academy that believe and transmit this to their students, so that they can perpetuate a sense of doubt, one that is usually conflated with pluralism. The reason for this doubt is to keep people from committing to music, or justice, or revolution, or anything. When people are not committed to their ideals, they are easily controlled by others. Those others are sometimes Lacan's Big Other, sometimes "bourgeois stinking life" (as Rick Roderick called it), or worse, they are individual authoritarians basking in their dualities.
Epilogue, Nietzsche's Parable of the Madman: