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  • XL (Letters on Xenakis)
  • Nathaniel Bobbitt

Introduction and References

Xenakis remains a musical figure whose methods have literary implications. To consider the personality of Xenakis, a musical and architectural thinker, becomes a means to extend literary tasks in favor of physical and sensory aspects of experience, behavior, and prerformance. Xenakis stands as a reference point on how to work with techology and how to wonder about a technological outlook within the writing process.

In XL, Xenakis appears as the means to consider the literary task of treating greater quantities of detail and spatial reference within writing. The next step is clearly textual instability and a generative prose form.

  1. A. Breton’s political/scientific approach, also in Xenakis

    • -Collaboration and collectives

    • -Science, Center of Mathematical and Automated Studies, compare Xenakis interest in musical cognition with Weil’s thesis on Descartes’ Science and Perception

  2. B. What are the exercises which develop an aleatory sense of treating greater quantities of data, all at once, via:

    • -Symmetry

    • -Asymmetry

    • -Computational complex patterns

  3. C. “Objects in action,” compared with optical illusions complex observations rather than the consideration of fallibility, hallucination:

    • -Consider the juxtaposition with regular hitting hangers; scrapping tangle as frictive noise as a rythmic source

    • -Waterdrops on a metal plate & microtonality

  4. D. Irrational quality to be found in “objects in action”

    • -Acceleration in glissandi

    • -Multiphonic versus microtonal drone

    • -Octave a microtonal degree These irrational qualities anticipate a “siren” activity that tempi studies in Carter on the player piano.

  1. I. B.F. Skinner & Xenakis as models for the commentator’s (the friends’) consideration of behavior as quantifiable:

    • -Skinner...item...collection


    • -Use of memory as heuristic module within the sensorial practice: F(x, y)...sensorial F (x’,y’)

    • -Skinner...behavior (habitual)

    • -Xenakis...performance (task realization)

    Consider Skinner and Xenakis on math testing and the mathematics of experiment testing.


Adieux, when I get a chance to break away from the hurry up and wait activity I write you, almost a symbol more than anything. A symbol of what I should be in contact with, not that I need reminding but all my mainstays are packed away. The necessity of a new place takes over so. The chance to meet with others is here, as I am a substitute teacher. Each day a new school, another direction, and a bus route to learn. The time schedule is that of the rural doctor. What does the sense of patrimony and grandfatherhood evoke for you: Such stodgy sorts perhaps are not vivid enough for “your punk German, your computer talk, cinema and the blurbs that run together.” Yet you were friendlier (than the other Darmstadters) as an ideal separates...and allows one to respond. One day these letters, notes, and discussion may serve a sentimental end, that of being taken on as a companion in a stoic expression.

For now, necessity takes over from irony. Both are merciless yet irony’s heartlessness and pointed humor is another story. Perish the thought, enter hunger, perish the thought. I think of you as someone that asks for only a good-humored naturalness, as the bitter and remedial feeling after your desires are taken care of elsewhere. Instead there is the commentary the breeze after so many close calls and disinterested conversation between two commentators. The word finally appears commentaire. The ability to work, experiment, exchange over short periods, despite wider lapses of conversation. Good commentator, good night.

Xenakis Letters



It hardly seems like it, but after two summers the term “volumetric” has taken on a life of its own coincidental, arbitrary, and unavoidable. I am content with this news which I must explain to it means undoing a tangle.

By now you know that I am always trying to find ways to make more out of my sentimentality. The act of reading a favorite is even more pleasurable if I can extend some aspect of an author and respond to that attraction in the reading. Better yet, someone shows me something “how to do” and I use it. The call-backs, the sentimentality I live over time through the debris of a better time, the reading matter, the source of...

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