Dear Ben Watson,
It’s been a year since we met. I was wondering whether I could ask you the same questions now that I did then and, if so, what the answers might be?
What was the first trigger for the initiation of the Association of Musical Marxists? Did you and your friend Andy Wilson feel dissatisfied that the Socialist Workers Party saw the very things that you like about music as bourgeois and counter-revolutionary?
The first title of Unkant, the Association of Musical Marxists’ publishing wing, was Adorno for Revolutionaries (2011). Was that because you wanted to convince those workers that their true leader is Theodor Adorno, someone who, contrary to the postmodernist myth, hated pop culture? Do you still believe that Adorno was neither defender of ‘high culture’ nor ‘popular taste’ and wished to expose its mechanization and standardization?
In the 1994 book Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play, you not only discuss Zappa’s situationist lyrics, but also his radical conventional personality, attacking class oppression and the conformity of mass culture. What is the essential connection between Adorno and Zappa?
I can’t wait to talk further about your recent co-writings with Esther Leslie, your partner, for the Militant Esthetix.
Hopefully until soon,
Ahmet Öğüt is an artist based between Berlin, Germany, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In 2018, he had solo exhibitions at Kunstverein Dresden, Germany, and Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Denmark. He is the initiator of The Silent University.
First published in Issue 200