Complexity and the Aesthetics and Politics of Emergent Form in Jazz. This essay inquires into the history of jazz from Be-Bop composing practices of the 1940’s, to the development of Free Jazz in the 1960’s, in terms of the concepts of “complexity” and “emergence” in physics and cognitive science.
I define this concern with the relationship between aesthetics and philosophy for this essay in the following way: How can we link the concept of “nomad art,” as defined by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, to a historically specific instance of “minortarian art” –African-American classical music or “jazz”– an art which has a micro-political, and political-economical, as well as an aesthetic context? I would like to begin to interrogate Be-Bop as a musical genre so as to illustrate the relationship between nomadology as a theory of complex behavior of individuals and collectives within human social systems, and micropolitical, transgressive aesthetics. In other words, how can we understand the relationship between a central concern with contingent and emergent aesthetic form, and the marginal status of the culture or group producing that aesthetic within a dominant social system? While I might want to finesse the distinction between what is dominant (in the cultural studies sense of “hegemonic”) with Deleuze and Guattari’s machineries of “control” and processes of “becoming,” I think we are too quick to efface the continued conditions of suppression with respect to the complex intertwinings of political, economic and social forces—especially where the condition of African-Americans in the United States is concerned.