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The Philosophy of Improvisation$
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Gary Peters

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226662787

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226662800.001.0001

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Mimesis and Cruelty

Mimesis and Cruelty

(p.75) 3 Mimesis and Cruelty
The Philosophy of Improvisation
University of Chicago Press

This chapter addresses a range of anti-improvisatory positions as traced across the comments of such artists and writers as Theodor Adorno, Pierre Boulez, Luciano Berio, Antonin Artaud, and others. Adorno, Boulez, Berio, John Cage, Gavin Bryars, Artaud, and even Jacques Derrida (a complicated case) have important and not always kind things to say on the subject that cannot be avoided if a serious case for improvisation is to be made. It is the principles of individuation and freedom that Adorno discovers to be the founding ideas that inform what he describes as the “ballyhoo” surrounding jazz improvisation. His aesthetic theory promotes a mimeticism that has nothing to do with imitating or copying that which is already given. Discourses on improvisation are sadly lacking in irony both at the level of form and of content.

Keywords:   Theodor Adorno, Pierre Boulez, Luciano Berio, Antonin Artaud, John Cage, Gavin Bryars, mimeticism, irony

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