Author Topic: Schenker gets cancelled  (Read 409 times)

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Offline BWV 1080

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Schenker gets cancelled
« on: August 01, 2020, 05:28:46 AM »
UNT theory prof and editor of Schenkerian analysis journal under fire for defending Schenker (the Jew whose wife was murdered in the Holocaust) and Schenkerian analysis charges of white supremacy. 

https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/07/at-the-university-of-north-texas-the-mob-comes-calling-for-a-music-theorist/?fbclid=IwAR3GzC-tD_6IKD2NKULq6EimmyvCT-f3cJBaQqehcFACdI_FA20ISHygWXU

Jackson’s response that led the mob to call for his head is here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dTOWwlIsuiwsgAa4f1N99AlvG3-ngnmG/view

Offline Todd

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2020, 05:46:09 AM »
Quote from: Samantha Harris
A group of graduate students in UNT’s Division of Music History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology issued a statement calling on the university to “hold accountable every person responsible for the direction of the publication” of the journal. “This should also extend to investigating past bigoted behaviors by faculty,” they wrote, “and, by taking this into account, the discipline and potential removal of faculty who used the [Journal of Schenkerian Studies] platform to promote racism. Specifically, the actions of Dr. Jackson — both past and present — are particularly racist and unacceptable.”

Well.

I do like the dutiful use of the word "platform".  It is one of the best ways to identify the indoctrinated. 
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Offline BWV 1080

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2020, 05:55:23 AM »
Well.

I do like the dutiful use of the word "platform".  It is one of the best ways to identify the indoctrinated.

Indoctrinated or careerist?  Note how the grad students with an eye on the academic job market are leading the charge

Offline Todd

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2020, 05:56:54 AM »
Indoctrinated or careerist?  Note how the grad students with an eye on the academic job market are leading the charge


Good point.  Could be a blend of both.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General

Offline amw

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2020, 06:02:22 AM »
I read the Timothy Jackson essay under contention last week and it is kind of racist, but not really in the "White Pride" sort of way, more in the "I don't understand these damn blacks these days and their jazz and hip-hop music" way. Instead of firing him, I submit that it would be sufficient restitution to require him to complete 30 credits (or whatever) worth of courses on the history, practice, analysis and reception of Afro-diasporic musics, because he's clearly clueless. (Who cites Wikipedia in an academic paper??)

Offline BWV 1080

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2020, 06:09:07 AM »
I read the Timothy Jackson essay under contention last week and it is kind of racist, but not really in the "White Pride" sort of way, more in the "I don't understand these damn blacks these days and their jazz and hip-hop music" way. Instead of firing him, I submit that it would be sufficient restitution to require him to complete 30 credits (or whatever) worth of courses on the history, practice, analysis and reception of Afro-diasporic musics, because he's clearly clueless. (Who cites Wikipedia in an academic paper??)

Read it as well and agree with your assessment of the content, but this is what debate is for.  Disciplinary action is not needed, but the mob’s response it to destroy the man’s career and throw him out in the street.  But, to my earlier point, if you are a conforming careerist grad student or junior prof, firing Jackson creates a scarce opening in a very competitive job market, with the bonus that politics would dictate the replacement prof posses impeccable woke credentials

Offline amw

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2020, 06:21:50 AM »
Disciplinary action is not needed, but the mob’s response it to destroy the man’s career and throw him out in the street. 
I think that's a severe overstatement though. Grad students do this kind of thing all the time. When I was one (until pretty recently) my student union would put out all kind of statements about how the Vice-Chancellor is a white supremacist who must be shunned by all decent people, Professor So-and-So needs to be publicly shamed for whatever reason, and the Dean absolutely must go. Naturally they were ultimately satisfied instead with a letter of apology, or a public walk-back and some platitudes, or a new university-wide equity initiative. Then when you become an academic it's the same thing except behind closed doors and in secret meetings. Nothing bad ever actually happens to any academic. Nevertheless it's 100% a snakepit of constant infighting and backstabbing, for the lowest stakes possible, since no one ever loses their job (unless they do something really heinous and unforgiveable, such as be a Palestinian).

Offline Todd

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2020, 06:26:38 AM »
So academia is rife with public intimidation and humiliation in exchange for miniscule gratification to reinforce feelings of righteousness.  Sounds about right based on my memories of college.  I'm glad I got a real job.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General

Offline amw

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2020, 06:28:41 AM »
Basically, yes. Also the pay sucks.

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2020, 08:34:53 AM »
This was the most surprising thing to me in Ewell's article:
Quote
Schenker’s praise of Hitler should be unsurprising to anyone who knows Schenker’s writings intimately.

In what context is praising Hitler unsurprising for someone who is Jewish, even in 1933??
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline MishaK

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2020, 09:39:14 PM »
Read it as well and agree with your assessment of the content, but this is what debate is for.  Disciplinary action is not needed, but the mob’s response it to destroy the man’s career and throw him out in the street.  But, to my earlier point, if you are a conforming careerist grad student or junior prof, firing Jackson creates a scarce opening in a very competitive job market, with the bonus that politics would dictate the replacement prof posses impeccable woke credentials

That's really not how academia works at all. If you destroy a professor who is liked by his fellow faculty at his home institution (who presumably hired him and/or mentored him and otherwise supported his career), you'd be shooting yourself in the foot by attacking that guy. That same faculty most certainly won't be hiring you to replace him. And logically it makes no sense. Ewell could not have anticipated that Jackson would necessarily respond to him, and do so in such a blatantly racist way as to potentially endanger his continued employment.

The problem with Schenker is simply that it's a self-enclosed system that by design can't analyze non-Western, non-classical music on any other terms except by comparison to Beethoven, because it was never designed to do anything else. His system was created to analyze the canonical western music that came before him and his analytical tools can do nothing else than confirm that those works are canonical because they are great by the metrics that were invented exclusively for the purpose of analyzing those same works. In other words, by necessity, Schenker can only measure other works by whether or not they conform to metrics established for the old canon. It can't take a work that falls outside that canon and just tell you what that work actually is. It can only tell you that it fails to be Beethoven. And I would think one could have known that without any analysis at all. You don't even have to go outside the realm of Western music to see that Schenker is of extremely limited utility, to be generous.

PS: I note that no one has as of yet linked to the piece that gave rise to Jackson's writing. That may not be un-worthwhile reading:

https://mtosmt.org/issues/mto.20.26.2/mto.20.26.2.ewell.html

PPS: I think the OP vastly overexaggerates the situation. Ewell is not calling for Schenker to be canceled. In his own words:

Quote
I do not suggest that we stop teaching Schenkerian analysis, or that scholars should cease their work thereon—there are of course many significant scholarly inquiries in this area of research. Given the racism within the theory, however, we who teach Schenkerian techniques are confronted with an ethical and intellectual dilemma.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2020, 11:48:37 PM by MishaK »

Offline MishaK

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2020, 10:52:34 PM »
This was the most surprising thing to me in Ewell's article:
In what context is praising Hitler unsurprising for someone who is Jewish, even in 1933??

Unsurprising, if you have read what Schenker has written over the course of his lifetime. Here's Leon Botstein neatly explaining why a Jew would be such a rabid German cultural supremacist::

Quote
The fact that Schenker, an observant and active member of the official, religious, Viennese-Jewish community, adhered to these [racist/cultural supremacist] views and propagated them indicates how deep-seated was the sense of German cultural superiority within German-speaking Europe and how widely it was internalized. This fact also reveals, ironically, the role of Bildung, or culture, as an instrument of acculturation and integration for European Jewry in German-speaking regions. It also suggests a not uncommon pattern in which marginal populations that achieve some legitimacy and a foothold in a culture and world after a history of exclusion become energetic opponents of the very patterns of entrance they themselves had exploited.

Btw, this short quote from Botstein basically annihilates the entirety of Jackson's ridiculous response to Ewell, which essentially boils down to "bbbut... Ewell is wrong! Schenker can't be racist because he's Jewish! And Ewell is an anti-semite for suggesting Schenker is racist, just like so many other black anti-semites!"

The paragraphs starting with "Ewell's scapegoating of Schenker, Schenkerians and Schenkerian analysis, [sic] occurs in the much larger context of Black-on-Jew attacks in the United States", surely are some of the dumbest and most racist things written in a year with no shortage of dumb and racist writings. He fully deserves to be skewered for that BS. Never mind all the straw man arguments that precede that bit and the incoherent assortment of random cultural grievances that follow. Jackson is clearly a confused old man who needs to retire.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2020, 11:45:06 PM by MishaK »

Offline Florestan

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2020, 08:13:06 AM »
Right. Let's cancel 2,000+ years of European culture and civilization (including but not limited to, literature, music, painting, sculpture, architecture, philosophy, history, science, law, customs and manners) because they were made, thought, proposed, espoused, developed and propagated almost exclusively by whites and overwhelmingly by white males. What sheer, blatantly racist nonsense.

I for one make no apologies for loving this very culture and civilization (actually, for considering it superior to any other, in degrees varying from slightly to vastly) and for the fact that all my favorite composers and writers are dead, white males. If that makes me a privileged white suprematist, then so be it.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 09:33:12 AM by Florestan »
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2020, 08:36:09 AM »
Well my reaction to all this is LOL, for purely personal reasons.

I take no position on this controversy and I don't know anything about Schenker. But when I saw the name Ewell being bandied about, I just had to click. Philip Ewell was the guy I replaced at the Moscow office of a large Western law firm. Ewell was in Moscow studying the cello at Moscow Conservatory, and working as an editor at this law firm at the same time.

I never met Ewell, but the general consensus around the office was that he was kind of nuts. He used to circulate memos around to all the lawyers, going on at great length about such things as the difference between "that" and "which." When he finally left the job, his way of saying goodbye was to write a long, rambling poem in rhyming couplets. It was hilarious and quite cringeworthy.

In my presence, the head of the firm described Ewell as "a f*cking moron." Was this fair? I don't know, but that's the opinion of some people who knew him.
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Offline ritter

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2020, 08:43:16 AM »
Right. Let's cancel 2,000+ years of European culture and civilization (including but not limited to, literature, music, painting, sculpture, philosophy, history, science, law, customs and manners) because they were made, thought, proposed, espoused and propagated almost exclusively by whites and overwhelmingly by white males. What sheer, blatantly racist nonsense.

I for one make no apologies for loving this very culture and civilization (actually, for considering it superior to any other, in degrees varying from slightly to vastly) and for the fact that all my favorite composers and writers are dead, white males. If that makes me a privileged white suprematist, then so be it.
+1 to the general drift of your post, Andrei. As for Schlenker, I don’t know his work, so won’t comment.

Good evening to you!

« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 08:47:52 AM by ritter »
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2020, 09:08:55 AM »
It's really facile to judge early 20th century assimilated Jews for being "German/Austrian/European suprematists". Read Stefan Zweig's Memoirs for an impression of that "world" (in this particular case, ca. 1900 Vienna). They were supreme in art and culture (and in the case of Austria Hungary also comparably decent at a kind of multiculturalism), they really had something to be proud of. And many lost this world twice within their lifetimes. It ended with WW I and while some bits survived in the 1920s, for someone like Zweig it ended again when he had to flee in the 1930s. He got safely to Brazil but could not cope with it and killed himself
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2020, 09:17:23 AM »
Good evening to you!

To you too, Rafael.
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline Florestan

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2020, 09:21:09 AM »
It's really facile to judge early 20th century assimilated Jews for being "German/Austrian/European suprematists". Read Stefan Zweig's Memoirs for an impression of that "world" (in this particular case, ca. 1900 Vienna). They were supreme in art and culture (and in the case of Austria Hungary also comparably decent at a kind of multiculturalism), they really had something to be proud of. And many lost this world twice within their lifetimes. It ended with WW I and while some bits survived in the 1920s, for someone like Zweig it ended again when he had to flee in the 1930s. He got safely to Brazil but could not cope with it and killed himself

Yes. Stefan Zweig's Memoirs are very relevant --- and so is his short story Buchmendel.

Read it here: http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/stefan-1.pdf.
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline ritter

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2020, 09:22:10 AM »
And Arnold Schoenberg comes to mind in this context as well....
ritter
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Schenker gets cancelled
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2020, 09:23:17 AM »
In my presence, the head of the firm described Ewell as "a f*cking moron." Was this fair?

Judging from Ewell's article, and assuming they are indeed one and the same person, the head of your firm was spot on.
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart