Ideologies of Sound: Longing for presence from the eighteenth century until today (2015)

Nicola Gess

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This essay began with a suspicion and a discomfort. The suspicion was that the pervasive theoretical interest in sound and music in recent years is connected with the simultaneous popularity of an aesthetics of presence in philosophical discourse. For music has time and again been appealed to as part of the search for preconceptual sensory experience, for immediacy, bodily presence, or states of immersion. The discomfort was that such appeals are often connected with an ideologically motivated understanding of music that ultimately has little to do with a historically informed, critical and concrete examination of music as an art form. Instead, this appeal is often accompanied by a return to the past that is motivated by cultural criticism: a lost essence (of language, art, community) is sought and rediscovered in music or sound, as is the experience of immediacy and bodily presence. The long tradition of this entanglement of art and ideology in philosophies of music can be traced in texts by, among others, Rousseau, Wackenroder, Nietzsche, and Bloch; today, it reappears in the work of philosophers of presence and sound theorists.
typeresearch exposition
last modified28/10/2015
share statusprivate
licenseAll rights reserved
published inJournal of Sonic Studies
portal issue10. Issue 10

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