The subject (of) listening

Gritten, Anthony (2015) The subject (of) listening. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 45 (3). pp. 203-219. ISSN 0007-1773


Jean-Luc Nancy’s phenomenology of listening (trans. 2007) makes a series of claims about the sonic / auditory nature of the subject. First among these is the claim that the subject is a subject to the extent that it is listening, that it is all ears. The subject emerges on the back of the resonance of timbre in the body and the body’s becoming-rhythmic. These claims are phrased often in musical terms, or making use of terms and rhetoric from the domains of music theory and music psychology. This article explores the role of music in Nancy’s phenomenology with a particular view to the nature of listening in the contemporary world: both how listening is figured as a part of what Nancy terms the inoperative community and how listening figures the cognitive and phenomenological constitution of the subject.

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