A Community Attuned to the Outside


Rather than adding to the celebration of the sanitary order or the pleasures of the home, the singular relevance of music creation resides more in its capacity to draw connections with the Outside. The Outside here does not refer to any outdoors, nor does it pose a distinction between exteriority and interiority: the concept names the no-place, the outside world that always exceeds the human, the atopian unknown that opens the being to new becomings (Bartoli and Gosselin 2017: 2, 7). 


For Maurice Blanchot (1983: 63), who has written in depth on the notion with great finesse since the 1950s,[8] the Outside is an experience of strangeness, of the radically unknown that is farther than any exterior world, but which is at the same time more intimate than any interior world. To be in relation with the Outside means to be open to the unfamiliar aspects of life, to the otherness that always escapes seizures and representations, not only to avoid normalizing the uncanny but also to be available to what disturbs the usual significations, not to tame the wild part that remains in some forms of life but to listen to it.


The Outside is a threshold, a passage giving access to a limit-experience, where life resonates with unformed forces (Agamben 1990: 69; Manning 2013: 18-19). It is a line that (un)differentiates the living and the non-living, the human and the nonhuman, a line of contact and of separation, where what is distinguished is also overlapping. As David gé Bartoli and Sophie Gosselin compellingly put it: the Outside is the line of horizon that creates discord [différend], but this is also where the encounter happens (Bartoli and Gosselin 2017: 11-12). Entities of diverse natures coexist on this thin line of horizon, away from any instrumental or finalist logic. The Outside persists, despite the countless attempts to colonize it, and its persistence precedes every objectivity or subjectivity.


What kind of community emerges from this strange encounter? A community without residence, which resists any immobilization, any appropriation, that is not based on any origin, attribute, or determined identity, but lives in the intensity of that which circulates between its components: an affective community. And it is the tonality of this circulation, the density and quality of the matters of expression moving it, the blocs of sensation it aggregates, that makes its consistency. And neither no-thing nor any-one can appropriate this, even the ones who are intensely taken up in it. For affect never belongs to any body: it bodies [fait corps]. Affect is a force of potential, a force of the Outside (Deleuze 2004: 95, 108). In this sense, an affective community is one that is moved by experiences of the Outside, that manifests the life that animates it only by taking care of its relation with that fugitive strangeness, without which its tended chords will detune, its proper rhythm will disarticulate, and its resonance will dissipate. 


In this time, when the experiences of community was dispersed among separated households and when the homey dominated the psychic life of the collectivities, the need for common practices crafted to welcome the Outside felt more urgent than ever. In the cold lockdown of Montreal, strange evening sounds emerging from random balconies seemed to broadcast the echoes of this need.