Friday, June 21, 2024

“Hyperstasis”, preempted

 "For stasis, as I intend the term, is not an absence of novelty and change — a total quiescence — but rather the absence of ordered sequential change. Like molecules rushing about haphazardly in a Brownian movement, a culture bustling with activity and change may nevertheless be static." 

from Leonard B. Meyer's 1967 book, Music, The Arts, and Ideas 


Stylo said...

Could you connect this to Fukuyama's end of history thesis? Both these strikes me as the withering away of the grand narratives, and the purposelessness that individualism has begat.

Not that I necessarily disagree with such a result, or see it as negative.

Tyler said...

You definitely could connect it to the 'end of history', but everyone (Fukuyama included) is pretty much in agreement that it turned out to be a phase rather than an actual endpoint, and that grand narratives left, right, and center are rising back up. Which raises an obvious question - why hasn't the same thing happened with hyperstasis?

My own suspicion is that it's because the end of history was socio-political, and that hyperstasis was/is cultural-economic, which are areas still ruled by the techno-financialized order of the past few decades. If/once that falls, the stasis may be broken


I think Meyer is talking here entirely about art and culture - high culture rather than popular culture - and being rather pained about the lack of focus and direction, the absence of marshalled movements - their replacement by a chaos of trends and tangents.

It's actually rather similar to some of the more recent (2010s) ideas of art theorist Nicolas Bourriaud - if I remember right he talks about in fashion there's no dominant look that everyone adopts in an "all change", instead there's a free-for-all.

I feel like in the modern, or postmodern, era, the world of art and culture has quite a lot of autonomy as a sphere from the economic-political - its trajectories have some bleed-through from the social but are much more governed by internal relations reactions to the immediate past, reactivations from the archive. Probably it's more influenced by technology and specifically the archiving systems of the digital / internet era.