From Nancy’s Listening

December 20, 2007 at 12:08 | Posted in communicative media, Musings, On Sound, sonic, the body, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage | Leave a comment

I’m Listening to Panda Bear’s album Person Pitch while I’m writing this. Attempting to qualify and quantify existential phenomena has not been very hip in my head lately. Until recently most of my ‘philosophical inquiry’ has revolved around trying to understand the world–not necessarily to rationalize, but just to find some way to be able to be ok with the seeming madness and “harmony of overwhelming and collective murder,” that proliferates infinitely (the quote is Herzog, from The Burden of Dreams).

In the past year my preoccupation with the unsolvable, and merely acquaintable, existential phenomena of life has shifted into a preoccupation with the sonic, and the act of listening. So far, this is what I’ve gleened/come up with:
I use the word sonic to refer to the empirical and objective–that which is without the attention of cognition. There are sonic events, which become sounds after they are perceived. And, there are sonic environments in which we move, live, and perform. Hearing is the cognitive performance through which we add significance–in a strictly cultural, that is inter- or intra-personal manner–to sonic events, thus transforming them into sound. Hearing is always a reduction, so that sound in consciousness is sensually inferior to the sonic event int he sonic environment. I’ve coem this conclusion in ;arge part through the influence of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, particularly a passage in which he says something to the effect of “The creation of an object in consciousness is always at the cost of the destruction of that object.” I like his view on phenomenology, particularly the idea that we–we being humans–exist as a fold between cognition and the empirical; the world is an “infinite horizon of sensation” (also MMP’s language) and when we interface with that horizon we assemble our rendition of the world, and become agents within it.
I’ve strayed formt he point a bit, but the point was never articulated, or priveleged, so I’ve arrived perfectly. So, here I arrive at the event that the title premised, and here that event will crystalize until some server space somewhere crashes. From Jean Luc-Nancy’s Listening translated by Charlotte Mandell:

“Music is the art of hope for resonance: a sense that does not make sense except because of its resounding in itself.”

#8. Dated 25.05.07

May 25, 2007 at 14:00 | Posted in On Sound | 2 Comments

When I took Intro to Creative Writing in my junior year of college I had a terribly egoistic professor. His idea of poetry was rather dated, an fluffy, and he insisted that his way was the right way. Predictably lame. One comment that he made stands out in my min as relevant though. While I don’t think that it’s necessarily true it provides an interesting departure point for discussion. His name was Mr. Sallinger, and he said, “The definition of genius is being able to hold two opposing views or opinions.” It’s a bit reductive, but it makes a great intro for something that I was thinking abou earlier today.

John Cage was a proponent of hypocrisy: “Contradict yourself all you want, just be honest about it.” I’m a proponent of John Cage, or rather I’m a proponent of the contents that John Cage expressed [to be Deleuzian about it (but even Deleuze is not Deleuzian for he is merely a point of articulation for a plane of consistency that extends beyond the temporality of his beginning and his end)]. I tend to work in opposition to sensibility, and consensus. I don’t want to be a radical, but I find the conditions that create radicality to be a pleasing ontology; I’ll not digress on priniciple. It seems to me to be quite useful to find two opposing heuristics (epistemologically) within an ontology and attempt to embody them both. I’m thinking specifically of my proclivity to making rap music and making works of phonography. Both are different ways of understanding the ontological category of sonic presence. They call for entirely different everythings, but it seems a useful effort to continually justify each of them to myself without doing so at the cost of the other’s total effacement.

I feel like there is perhaps a useful degree of architectural ingenuity in constantly killing the self that kills myself.

#1. Dated: 16.05.07

May 18, 2007 at 15:06 | Posted in On Sound | Leave a comment

All of the writings that will appear in the series On Sound are intended to provide new ways for theorizing on sound. These writings lie somewhere between stream-of-consciousness, short stories, essays, narrative non-ficiton, and perhaps poetry as performed writing styles. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything with these writings. I am trying to to excite discussion of issues that relate to the perception of sound. Many of these writings will not make sense in the I’m-conveying-explicit-facts-or-experiences-to-you manner. They’re demanding in ways. I hope that you can enjoy them.

Yes, but the sense are divided. We can touch an object, but we cannot see it. What registers as ocular sensation is not teh object that is perceived, but the light waves that are absorbed, refracted, adn reflected by that object. An object cannot be seen. As if it were a ghost ship we perceive only its wake upon an ocean of light. It is not that the ocular is immaterial. The material of the ocular cannot be perceived through solely tactile faculties. Our bodies are engulfed in an ocean of ocular material, but it is only the eyes–with their specialized type of tactile perception–that notice the material of the ocular. It is a thin stuff, infinitely thin. It is thin beyond imagination. We cannot touch what we see. We can only touch the objects that create what we see. For the hands to perceive the material of the ocular would be like a fish breathing outside of water; it’s not impossible, it’s evolutionarily sophisticated.

Create a free website or blog at
Entries and comments feeds.