chasing cars

The US has ner’rock, so logically the British Isles must have ‘pastey rock’ to describe the textured complexions of their nerd rock bands. Enter Snow Patrol. They would be post-punk or emo if they took speed, but they don’t, so they ain’t. It is more pop-rock in the tradition of post-gothic. Let’s just call it post-hyphen music. Sweet.

Now I had heard their previous album “Final Straw” and I quite liked the track “Chocolate”. EDIT: Plus the lead singer with the name of a 1980s action caroon superhero, Gary Lightbody, is involved in the superstar side project The Reindeer Section, and I have their album Son of Evil Reindeer, which is an assemblage of very gentle, red-wine-and-candles romantic interlude theme music. This time what has twigged my interest are the two songs that use cars and/or the system of automobility to derive their poetic imagery: “Chasing Cars” and “Headlights”. “Headlights” opens with a loud reverberating charge of drums and so on that reaches out and grabs your ear. The opening verse and chorus:

For once I want to be the car crash
Not always just the traffic jam
Hit me hard enough to wake me
And lead me wild to your dark roads

Headlights… before me
So beautiful, so clear
Reach out… and take it
Cos I’m so tired of all this fear

There is a subtle change of reference here. From the will to become a car crash instead of the traffic jam and thus implicated in the action to a more spectatorial role of reaching out to the beauty of headlights. The traffic jam and the accident are two conjunctural events that populate the everyday experience of automobility. The traffic jam is literally a series of queues that feeds into the singular immanent event of traffic from which the resource of the road is distributed. The car crash is the integral accident of the system of automobility; it is the inverse of the traffic-event. In the accident there is literally a break down in the sociotechnical system for the immanent distribution of the road (as ‘duration’). Both of these events require some sort of action. The movement between the two can be very quick. The traffic jam (that is, the queue that feeds into the event of traffic) is boring and mundane, but at the same time it can be sinister. It can be a brutal banality in the topology of everyday life. It could very well be nihilism’s cliff face. Sheer and imposing it only requires the smallest of movements, a quick dash, a release, to leap from the cliff face, that is to chift from traffic to the accident, the smallest of swerves… (Haven’t you ever wondered, when standing on the edge, what it would be like, a few moments of floating, of peace…?) There are no rocky shorelines at the base of this cliff, only more banalities, of governmental statistics and stupid politicians, and perhaps sadness.

Yet, the change of register produces a sense of hope. The beauty of headlights can be found in a distant night time city road full of the streaming imperceptible lights of traffic. This light-stream is unquestionably an example of the modernist sublime; it crowns an urban experience of always at once part of and removed from something much larger than one’s self, while at the same time forming an essential component of you at the edge of your being. The multiplicity of headlights and cars and their owners is a direct representation of the unknown, but highly visible hustle and bustle of the city multi-pli-city. From the banality of the ubiquitous traffic queue to the singularity of the accident-event opens the multiplicity of the city, of headlights on wild dark roads. Of course, this is a love song, or more correctly, hope in the romantic lament of overcoming stilted passions, of overcming the fear of the wild dark roads…

Towards the end of The Fold Deleuze writes:

Something has changed in the situation of monads, between the former model, the closed chapel with imperceptible openings, and the new model invoked by Tony Smith, the sealed car speeding down the dark highway. In summary we can attribute what has changed to two principal variables.
Leibniz’s monads submit to two conditions, one of closure and the other of selection. On the one hand, they include an entire world that does not exist outside of them; on the other, this world takes for granted a first selection, of convergence, since it is distinguished from other possible but divergent worlds, excluded by the monads in question; and it carries with it a second selection of consonance, because each monad in question will fashion itself a clear zone of expression in the world that it includes (this is the second selection that is made by means of differential relations or adjacent harmonics). Now the selection is what tends to be disappearing, first of all and in every way. If harmonics lose all privilege of rank (or relations, all privilege of order), not only are dissonances excused from being ‘resolved,’ divergences can be affirmed, in series that escape the diatonic scale where all tonality dissolves. But when the monad is in tune with divergent series that belong to incompossible monads, then the other condition is what disappears: it could be said that the monad, astraddle over several worlds, is kept half open as if by a pair of pliers.

Deleuze is indicating the emergence of a transversal movement of groups of prehension across the chaosmos. Hence the architecture of events is mobile and transitory, rather than stationary. “A nomadology rather than a monadology,” he writes. Love as a transitory accident open to multiplicity, a beginning rather than something finished. From “Chasing Cars”:

Let’s waste time
Chasing cars
Around our heads

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Damn. Grace is my measure of sexy for any configuration of forces, of intuiting the dancing figure before it becomes an object, in its becoming. Cool.

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