Friday, September 25, 2015

JAZZ PAPERS: The Improvisative - Tracy McMullen / The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies

 This essay explores the ramifications of musical improvisation for understanding self and other. It suggests that musical improvisation may offer insights into a conception of self and other different from the dominant model found in most cultural theory. It is my contention that contemporary cultural theory is too beholden to Hegelian notions of the self as created through the field of the Other and the concomitant emphasis on “recognition” as the central factor in the construction of the subject. This emphasis on recognition is, in part, instilled through the theory of the performative put forward by Jacques Derrida and Judith Butler. I will detail my concerns with this theory and then offer an alternative way to understand the relation of self and other, one that focuses on “generosity” rather than“recognition.” I describe this as a theory of the “improvisative.” (Read & Download)