I just came across this bizarre little document: Jacques Derrida interviewing Ornette Coleman. The whole thing is interesting, and it does occur to one that there’s a similarity between the two of them, a kind of unique post-war weirdness, as well as the fact that cults grew up around both of their inventions. There are some exchanges that you would expect.
Derrida: “If I translate what you are doing into a domain I know better, that of written language, the unique event produced only one time is nevertheless repeated in its very structure. Thus there is a repetition, in the work, that is intrinsic to the initial creation–that which compromises or complicates the concept of improvisation. Repetition is already in improvisation: thus when people want to trap you between improvisation and the pre-written, they are wrong.”
Coleman: “Repetition is as natural as the fact that the earth rotates.”
Which one sounds like the real philosopher?
Ornette tells some good stories, too. This story is probably well known to some, but it was new to me:
“Before becoming known as a musician, when I worked in a big department store, one day, during my lunch break, I came across a gallery where someone had painted a very rich white woman who had absolutely everything that you could desire in life, and she had the most solitary expression in the world. I had never been confronted with such solitude, and when I got back home, I wrote a piece that I called ‘Lonely Woman.'”