In Chapter 7, The Occulture writes about the “speaking of the world” and the transformations operative in any echo. Hence my insertion of this field recording, a faint, imaginary, dreamed echo of a world that once spoke to me.
By the way, to keep the reader in a sort of dream state, to keep him roaming in this atopos between the real and the virtual, between conscious and unconscious systems, between fact and fiction, the authors – it is never clear who of the four has been writing what; they offer their work under the collective name of “The Occulture” – do not aim to provide any transparent knowledge; instead they encourage readers to rely on their imagination, to enter and espouse a delirious world, thereby “returning the world to itself a little bit more unintelligible” (p. 13). To confine myself to just one example (besides the untraceable Mercurius ‘Sculla): Having found no proof on the Internet regarding experiments with tune recognition for music that has been subjected to highly mutational procedures such as backwards playing or intervallic stretching as described in Chapter 8, I found myself gradually doubting its veracity. (Of course, this also immediately raised questions about the relation between the Internet and truth!) Fact or fiction? Real of fantasy? And … does it matter? The Occulture mentions the term “hyperstition,” “the transmutation of fictions into realities” (p. 66), with a strong dose of technology and fiction regarded as a potentiality instead of an (alternative) actuality. Dreams, technology, and listening might bring us into an immersive state where borders blur (“devices now aspire to become fully integrated biological systems” [p. 99]), categorical segregations dissolve, transparency vanishes, and often neglected forms of irrationality and inarticulate feelings are taken into account.
To just briefly zoom in on this uncanny listening, Chapter 5 claims that “listening is always muddy,” for example because “sounds produced by the ear […] interact with the ‘outside’ acoustic world but […] are not of either” (p. 82) – the oto-acoustic dimension of listening “that defies being diagrammed according to its signals, senders, and receivers” (p. 82). This then leads to a thinking on listening as a Baradian intra-action between sounds and listener consisting of “intervals, tempos, intensities, amplitudes, contours, and boundaries” as “mere connections – indifferent to their content” (p. 86). This of course echoes Steve Goodman’s ideas on affective tonality as expressed in his book Sonic Warfare, but it equally reminded me of music psychologist Ruth Herbert’s Everyday Music Listening,where she describes her listening as “wallowing in the sound, be exposed to unbidden imagery, narratives, associations and memories, notice myself analyzing aspects of the music, experiencing my surroundings slightly differently – or even forgetting the very presence of music” (Herbert 2011: 1).
I dreamed that a listening experience always already consists of more than what one is actually listening to. One always hears more and other things than that which can be heard …