Siren Song: The Death of Poetry and Commodified Singing

What has always fascinated me about Sirens, whether written of by Euripides, Homer, Ovid or Hesiod, is that no one writes about Siren’s Song. (Todorov, 2010)
It is the hour of the discrete siren who refuses in advance to disseminate and cause to vanish truths that are still only in the state of ‘scales or chord played in prelude to a concert’. Ranciere (2011) – Mallarme the Politics of the Siren
The Sirens: it seems they did indeed sing, but in an unfulfilling way, one that only gave a sign of where the real sources and real happiness of song opened. Still, by means of their imperfect songs that were only a song still to come, they did lead the sailor toward that space where singing might truly begin. They did not deceive him, in fact: they actually led him to his goal. But what happened once the place was reached? What was this place? One where there was nothing left but to disappear, because music, in this region of source and origin, had itself disappeared more completely than in any other place in the world: sea where, ears blocked, the living sank, and where the Sirens, as proof of their good will, had also, one day, to disappear. (Maurice Blanchot – The books to come)

What is it in siren songs that piques Todorov’s interest, as if we’re not aware that the siren songs of today come from shopping malls, television programs, political tribunes, tourist “paradises” – haven’t we heard enough of them? Where is Ranicere’s “discrete siren”? As Blanchot notices, sirens are no longer at sea – some of them disappeared and some of them moved into new spaces. Sirens have sung into the ears of attentive listeners about prosperity and freedom while books were burned and walls raised. Both sides have justified their actions, thinking they would be able to eradicate each other for the good of us all. “To hear the Song of the Sirens, he had to stop being Ulysses and become Homer” (Blanchot). Not Homer, but Homer Simpson he became, I would add. And why should we even write about sirens’ songs, those commanding, singing desires that employ shallow poetic language for the purpose of building new fences and walls, heard by only a chosen few who are the creators of both, songs and walls, and who do not really listen to them. All that can be heard turns into universal insights that put fences around our deteriorated education and our lives, and that stigmatizes any sort of common living, that small creation of the togetherness which we share as the good and evil of our collective existence.

Ranciere (2004) wrote:

On the one side there is the community of lived experience, meaning the community of alienated life. This community is based on the originary separation of sense (sensation) and sense (meaning). In Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s narrative, this is the separation of Ulysses’s reason from both the songs of the sirens and the work of sailing. That community of alienated life is achieved in the deceptive appearance of its opposite. It is achieved in the homogeneous appearance of aestheticized life and commodity culture. (p. 39)

Communal hallucination as the consequence of the siren song determines the form and matter of our reality and successfully navigates the processes of how not to see things as they are in their essence. “What a life. True life is somewhere else. We are not in the real world”, Rimbaud wrote (quoted in Slatter, 2002).

We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind. […] The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent the reality. (JG Ballard – Crash)

An entire discourse of hallucinogens and soft, plastic obfuscators has led us into a state of epistemological collapse, which we perceive as intellectual crises, crises of humanity/inhumanity and much more, when in fact they are false conditions caused by the hallucinogenic abandonment of something that it is. The relations of real and symbolic have collapsed – it is impossible to escape the artificiality of the real because of the constant naive belief that we can create reality – reality of creation, creative reality. Festive garments fall and the emperor walks naked for quite some time, while we “in spite of everything” behave like “disgusting bourgeois” (Levinas, 1998). Before consciousness stand stripped-down schemes as bare as frozen trees in winter. Who or what can breathe life into them? Maybe Plato? His “inexhaustible knowledge of history even today leads us to confusion” and so gives breath. Taking with you all foggy areas of origin and, most importantly, preserving their importance, Plato does not cease to provoke the “prose of Life” (Genette, 1980, p.37).

And so, in a never-ending cycle, everything goes again and from the beginning, another sirenic dose of exaggerated beauty, prejudice and happiness, logocentrism, homophobia, hatred, then purification through war and enmity, and a future in the blind belief in the quasi-humaneness and irrefutability of the human to appear as the only possibility in its own impossibility. This perpetual escape from reality or, more precisely, creation of artificial realities, has become very imaginative, fantastical, and fanatical, though it does not complement the reality of what is, but rather the reality of what is not. And what can never be—in the sense of Christianity’s paradox where real life, worth living, comes only after human death—in the special place where all the chosen righteous ones can listen to and sing the siren song—a logocentric song. As Bradatan (2015) says,

Suppose there is a manner of doing philosophy that, strictly speaking, doesn’t involve writing and speech-making, lecturing and teaching—indeed, a form of philosophizing that doesn’t even need language. Suppose, further, that this kind of philosophizing is all about performance, bodily performance. Philosophers have exhausted all their usual approaches, and now have to put their bodies on the line. The situation doesn’t lack irony: an essentially logo-centric discipline finds itself one day in a state where words are useless and arguments futile.

Logocentrism has become the foundation for all other forms of centrism. Logocentrists posit that the spirit is the real subject of history, but it is realized through genius, people, and a multitude of individuals. The structure of asymmetry and privilege is refracted through each of these categories, primarily because the spirit is not realized equally through all the representatives of a people, nor within all the peoples known in history. From the viewpoint of spiritual self-realization there are peoples and individuals who are more important than others. The theory of genius was derived from this centric supposition, as was the theory of people. Logocentrism is converted to ethnocentrism, and this again to elitism, and transcendental asymmetry into the real asymmetry which makes possible the formulation of the principle of greater and smaller spiritual and historical rights. On the other hand, the principle of rights is hierarchized according to degree of universality. The rights of the people come before the rights of the individual, and the rights of the genius before the rights of the people as a whole. At the same time, these rights become historical, and not simply natural, as the nature of the spirit is ingrained in history, its self-positioning and its self-realization. The final aim of the absolute suspends all individual and collective aims, and the firm line of history suspends all individual and collective plans and fates. Not even devastating criticism of Hegel’s absolutism could change the centric, fictional structure thus set up.

Reality has become irrelevant, too plain to search for, to strive for, and that state of mind initiates the unpleasant experience of alienation of one from one’s own self. This false analogue real, drowns within logocentric fixed ideas of stupidity, cynicism and irony. An entire process of the quasi-imaginative has corrupted our processes of thinking so that we still need muses, gods, sirens, great leaders, smart devices, artificial intelligence, and various kinds of synthetic spaces in order to practice how to be instead of just being. We dedicate our entire lives to improving this state of Eurocentric imagined capitalist reality – where the basest human urges are stimulated in order to sustain a system based on consumerism, heading into a life of nothingness – where we do not get to know ourselves but rather consume ourselves.

The science of language, too, has walked through that door of the quasi-imaginative, controlled by bizarre epistemological formulas that are corrupting the knowledge of entire generations for the purpose of deforming our inner being. Our insides so shaped become publicly displayed in an extreme exterior space representing our make-believe reality. We can easily hear the siren song from our mobile phones singing in a high-pitched artificial voice – poetry is dead so do we die too – your battery is low, your battery is critically low.

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