We cannot say what new structures will replace the ones we live with yet, because once we have torn shit down, we will inevitably see more and see differently and feel a new sense of wanting and being and becoming. What we want after “the break” will be different from what we think we want before the break and both are necessarily different from the desire that issues from being in the break.
This is the first issue of a new journal called Cesura//Acceso.1 The journal positions itself at the intersections of music, experimental politics and poetics. We want to ask what it could mean to practice politics through music or to think music through politics. A pause in the line, ignited. The pause that ignites. The break, in fire. Acting together, cesura and acceso2 offer a way of thinking towards a politics or anti-politics that moves towards the break, is moving within its imaginings, and confronts the limits of those imaginations.
The process of the project itself started in 2013, but has emerged from years spent in conversations, protests, performances, groups, gigs, work, workshops, frustrations, trips, records, books and questions that we have shared and explored as friends. From our experiences of musical and political communities in London, we felt that a space was needed to produce and reveal connections across genres, mediums and attentions. We’ve seen music acting both as a spark for ludic collectivity and a distraction from encroaching police lines. It is in the entanglement of these seemingly oppositional functions that we find our line of enquiry.
The journal explores, through the collective interests of its writers, how music functions—as anaesthetic, catalyst and symptom. It is our attempt to contribute “a tool and a provocation” against capital—towards energising discourse, cultivating alliances, confusing taxonomies, hardening resistances, antagonising norms and finding the “outer-spaceways”. We hope to stimulate the interchange of experience, questions, ideas and material between disconnected spheres of practice in music and politics.
As the percolating bubbles3 at the ghost-tide4 of capital spill a sedative toxicant into and onto every skin of an idea of love, every body of resistance—music has been subject to the expanding illusion that culture and its aesthetic materialisations emerge out of, and quietly return to, an apolitical vacuum at the service of decoration.
If, as has recently been argued, the common horizon of art and radical politics in the present moment is an autonomy of process; improvising impurely; attempting to evade valorisation; then music provides, through its capacity for spontaneity, rupture, immanence and radical affect, a place to start. Despite a complex relation to the commodity form, the collision of digitization with the music industry has created a dynamic force in the destruction and attempted restructuring of profit. Music, a most vernacular of art forms, thoroughly enmeshed in both our labour and “free time”, offers a stealth politics, “hidden in plain sight”.
For us, music can be understood not simply as sound-phenomena-organised-in-time-and-exchanged-for-cash within the factory of post/industrial capitalism, but also, as an aesthetic-poetic-political mode of enquiry, a mode of perception, a way of learning and sharing—in and outside of the vibrations of sound or the marks of language. Music is also of, and about, bodies (under and in flight from, capitalism)—and bodies are always participating in a generative vernacular of dance and somatics “intransigent toward the detectives of capital” 5 disrupting capital’s alienations and dehumanising ontological cleavages6 at the same time as presenting these for scrutiny.
Experiments in politics, language and music are interconnected within spheres of survival, struggle and desire, imbricated in the often fraying fabric of our everyday lives. Cesura//Acceso probes how these entangled human-social-material practices deal with the tensions between trying to live more of a life, and trying to combat the oppressions that militate to limit any living.
This journal explores—through music, politics and language—the means we have, in spite of limitations, to be part of an ecology of resistance and learning that includes skin, organs, ideas, imagination, flight, asylum and history. It is also a project of unmasking both the roots and reproductions of increasingly opaque and complex malignant factors that sustain our oppressions, and the “unspent” political potential of music.
To bring distinctions into proximity in the journal, there will be myriad manifestations from multiple origins and trajectories. While content will coalesce around particular themes and registers of language; we encourage the noise, friction and enquiry that emerges from the spaces on the underside of accord. The collection of contributions in this first issue form a partial representation of voices and positions that will change over time. The shape of this shifting landscape will emerge as future contributions and dialogues come into contact with conversations in previous issues. This issue does not fix a territory that new friends and perspectives are not permitted to enter: we will continue to encourage and accept open submissions, and work against confines of specialisation to balance academic, non-academic, concrete and oblique ideas.
From within the fog of learning-by-doing, which has informed the autodidactic quality of the production of our first issue, we have attempted to be cognizant of erasures in representation and forces which act to reproduce normative imbalances along familiar lines of gender, race and class. We do not attempt to deny “the pre-written framework”7 —that is, biases betrayed by our collective or individual genealogies—instead attending to these tendencies and responding to the problems they create as they surface during the process of working through the project.
Somebody else’s idea of somebody else’s world
Is not my idea
Of things as they are
Somebody else’s idea of things to come
Need not be, The only way
To vision the future
What seems to be, need not be
What need, had to be
For what was, is only because of
An adopted source of things
Some chosen source as was
Need not be, the only pattern
To build a world on
Sun Ra “Somebody Else’s Idea”8
Cesura//Acceso is self-published and we don’t have the resources of a large publisher. We are subject to increasingly common and intense constraints—a lack of time, space, work, money and resources. We do not have any regular or institutional funding or support and cannot afford to be entirely self-funded. We relied on fundraising to pay for the production costs of the first issue.
We have developed the journal from within the claustrophobic conditions of life lived in the city of London. That is, like many others with a similarly precarious trajectory—we cleave temporary spaces to nurture our project—improvising against the various direct and collateral pressures of work and the city. Without the invaluable generosity, solidarity and help of friends, this project would not have become a reality.
Thanks to: All our contributing authors, Howard Slater, Anthony Iles, all at MayDay Rooms, Mute Magazine, Eva Weinmayer/AND Publishing, Ben Noys, Christina Chalmers, Cara Tolmie, Mira Mattar, Trevor Brent, John Douglas Millar, Seymour Wright, Tim Goldie, Mike Levitt, James Janco, Caroline Heron, Ollie Burch, Mohamed Barakat, Tom Hirst, Ute Kanngiesser, Hannah Sawtell, Mathew Noel Todd, Arika, Stephen Shukaitis, Benedict Drew, Jakob Jakobsen, and all those who kindly donated to our fundraising initiatives.