Phonograph, symbolic. Acoustic Evidence in Arno Holz’ Phantasus (2017)

Thomas Forrer

About this exposition

The fundamental innovations in modern German verse around 1900 can be ascribed to the emergence of technological media rather than to a deliberate departure from metrical tradition. In 1879, Friedrich Nietzsche had already approached a new style of writing that emulated the performance of oral speech and its singular visual and acoustic phenomena that had become recordable with photography and, as of 1877, with the Edison phonograph. In this article I will focus on the “phonographic” writing techniques of the German naturalist-poet Arno Holz that take the insurmountable difference between the medium of writing and the singular acoustic happening as their precondition. A technique that can be called “acoustic evidence,” employed in Holz’s cycle of poems *Phantasus* (1898ff.), indicates sounds not through writing traditional musical notation or alphabetic letters, but rather by crossing out writing. In this way, Holz’s verses indirectly reference the new “orchestra of life” that Edison’s phonograph had brought into the discourse.
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last modified17/01/2017
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published inJournal of Sonic Studies
portal issue13. Issue 13

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