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.”

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