Stefa Govaart

True Sentiments

_Text on PRICE's album Sequences (True Sentiments) focusing on the mediatization of interiority, complicating in vs out_


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You have been betrayed by a grotesquely aesthetic politics of consumption. Your world is in its rule. Mentally barking, were you hoping to feel true to your senses? You endlessly negotiated to try to find what you had sought. You sang in and out of tune, and let the trees speak to you in muted tones. The longer you could spin out a conversation the better it was. You have got to learn to get sick and take out the pain that you have found others to have given you.  

A cock departed you, but a tongue persisted in your mouth and you breathed into it. How forward, how wanton, how lascivious but badly trained. Splashing in the waters lost by your tears, you started to swell. You are unable to think of yourself as anything but free, even if you know that you are not.[1] You’ll get tired of this.   

Who is measuring reality for you? The principle of self-ownership includes having or owning one’s feelings, body and emotional choices, but you know your senses are being disowned at the moment of wanting to own what strikes you as truly yours. Innards are thick with mediation as fog. Latency is a function of time without a well-proportioned place to resort to. An address precedes you, impresses itself on you, injuriously names you, accounts for you, subordinates you, does you. You can desire something and that thing can become materially real, but your materially real desire depends on what can and cannot be given back to you. You have to be granted your material necessity, before all else. This doesn’t make your sentiments any less real. Your sentiments are true to the extent that they have caught fire in what’s doing you. 

The album Sequences (True Sentiments) by PRICE measures reality with melody, tonal plasticity and vocal experiment, instead of lyrics. This parking of lyrics in the middle of sung English phonemes deceives the performative force of language. PRICE’s larynx and technological prosthetic are not explicitly owned by words that “don’t come easy”.[2] The album pays tribute to those who did not grow up speaking English but were nonetheless bombarded with it. PRICE is a child phonetically repeating what it doesn’t understand. But the child isn’t innocent, it is contaminated from the start. Attempting at becoming proficient in the vocabulary of hegemony, the child is intruded upon by enigmatic signifiers it never chose. Its universe is embedded in an ontology of performance operating wholly inside economies of reproduction. Equivocating between willful performance, enigma and oppression, the child’s inner and outer cannot be resolved through the instantiation of a dialectical synthesis: there is no end to being undone in the act of doing. No poison of true sentiments makes die the evil source of an infection from which sprang the golden idioms and premium syntax that pierce through the child. Causal accounts of sequential determination fail to account for the subject’s emergence. There is no free child that first is and is then, having become an adult, repressed. Repression is not performed by the subject but coincides with its emergence.[3] 

Enough of latency’s puzzles though. Confession risks succumbing to the lure of narcissism. Wouldn’t you rather mobilize existence through time? Quick transactions are useful: consider the economics of the encounter. What structure of address recreates experience that had lost itself outside of you in you? How do PRICE’s vocals manifest it up? Can your constitutive repression be given back to and secreted in you, getting you from one repressed place to another? The twelve songs of Sequences (True Sentiments) are slick, sentimental, well-machined. They convince you that they are truer than the truest pop songs. They cope with and reside in the weeping, crying and hailing of commodification’s sentimentality. The truest of vocal outbursts are the most commodified of all, the album knows. It knows that we need more than experience.[4] Sequences (True Sentiments) dwells in wanting to be able to discern the sound that cannot sound in the mellow musky rain of the harbor of the West in which the cruelty of cruelty-free commodities is superior and love cannot be felt. If the externalization of the deepest of bodily cavities including the vocal chords is absolute––if the negativity of repression makes you you––then it is the internal contradiction of true sentiments that PRICE cannot own but can share.[5] 
 
[1] “Subjectivity as such presupposes the illusion that things could be different. To be a subject is to be unable to think of oneself as anything but free –– even if you know that you are not. The barrier that means that this cannot be faced is transcendental.” Mark Fisher, The Weird and the Eerie (2016), p. 44. 
[2] F.R. David, Words Don’t Come Easy (1982).
[3] By insisting that “something concerning sexuality is constitutively unconscious…unconscious even when it first occurs, and not simply due to a subsequent repression,” philosopher Alenka Zupančič shows that repression constitutes (the emergence of) the subject. Alenka Zupančič, What Is Sex? (2015), p.11.
[4] “We need more than experience: we need discernment,” says poet Ariana Reines. Where Reines discerns “the burlesque of truth that shoots into you” by means of poetry, PRICE’s medium isn’t language but melody and vocalization. Ariana Reines, interviewed by Rebecca Tamás, https://www.thewhitereview.org/feature/interview-ariana-reines/.  
[5] My pressing on the internal contradiction of true––or, free––sentiments via PRICE’s sentimental yet muddled vocals is motivated by thinkers that disinvest from the critical confidence premised on a norm-antinorm logic. There is no dyad capable of enduring the recursive temporality that the historical present urges us to take seriously. At stake here are “the processes through which movements for change are recuperated into the change that does not change—or changes for the worse,” as political theorist Angela Mitropoulos puts it. “Freedom is in unfreedom as the trace of the resistance that constitutes constraint” is a brilliant nondyadic formulation by poet and theorist Fred Moten. In a world built upon the radical exclusion of some that structures the future for all subjects, possibility and impossibility are two sides of the same coin, the Black radical tradition has evidenced time after time. “How might it be thought that there exists a being about which the question of its particular being is the condition of possibility and the condition of impossibility for any thought about being whatsoever?,” scholar Jared Sexton pointedly asks. Angela Mitropoulos, “Art of Life, Art of War: Movement, Un/Common Forms, and Infrastructure” (2018), np; Fred Moten, “Black Optimism/Black Operation” (2007), p.318; Jared Sexton, “The Social Life of Social Death: Afro-Pessimism and Black Optimism” (2011), p.7.