A Paleontology of Quiet (2014)

Neil Verma

About this exposition

This paper considers “close listening” in the context of classic America radio drama through a study of “The Thing on the Fourble Board,” a radio play by Wyllis Cooper. Although it is among the most esteemed works of dramatic audio in U.S. popular culture, the piece has seldom been engaged critically. Doing “readings” of radio drama is a rare activity to begin with, and this play is especially elusive because its features exceed the common preoccupations of theory of radio dramatic technique. Following Jonathan Sterne’s proposal to blend “sonic imaginations” with other fields of thought and practice, I take a new approach, heeding Cooper’s odd “geological” aesthetic and arguing that the play offers an idea of “auditory fossilization.” Building on some of my earlier work that considers classic radio drama as a mineralized transmission, I further propose the “sound fossil” as a heuristic to help us conceptualize the form as a whole as it exists in our time. This nearly extinct yet modern genre has always been a kind of objet sonore, surely, inasmuch as it occupies a “theater of the mind” whose pleasure rests on a disavowal of its own production, but radio drama is also increasingly a sonorous “thing,” defined by glitches and errors in the preserved audio that point toward a struggle against – and requirement of – materiality. According to this model, to critically engage with a recorded drama is to unearth these two underground counterpressures, and close listening is both a mode of reading and one of excavation.
typeresearch exposition
last modified26/06/2014
share statuspublic
licenseAll rights reserved
published inJournal of Sonic Studies
portal issue07. Issue 7
connected toJournal of Sonic Studies

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id name copyright license
87913 Verma Clip 4 W. Cooper All rights reserved
87908 Verma Clip 3 W. Cooper All rights reserved
87905 Verma Clip 2 W. Cooper All rights reserved
87836 Verma Figure 1 Verma All rights reserved
87831 sonicstudies-banner-964-3 Mannschaft All rights reserved
87828 Verma Clip 1 W. Cooper All rights reserved

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