Hits: Philosophy in the Jukebox

Hits: Philosophy in the Jukebox

Hits: Philosophy in the Jukebox

Hits: Philosophy in the Jukebox

Synopsis

Hits: Philosophy in the Jukebox is an extraordinary foray into what apple has convinced us is the soundtrack of our lives. How does music come to inhabit us, to possess and haunt us? What does it mean that a piece of music can insert itself - Szendy's term for this, borrowed from German, isthe earworm - into our ears and minds? In this book, Peter Szendy probes the ever-growing and ever more global phenomenon of the hit song. Hits is the culmination of years of singular attentiveness to the unheard, the unheard-of, and the overheard, as well as of listening as it occurs when one pays anything but attention. Szendy takes us through our musical bodies, by way of members and instruments, playing and governing apparatuses,psychic and cinematic doublings, political and economic musings. The hit song, Szendy concludes, functions like a myth, a force of repetition that grows by force of repetition. In the repetition generated by the song's relation to itself, Szendy locates its production as a fetishized commodity, aself-producing structure, and a self-desiring machine. Like a Deleuzian machine, then, the hit song is a technology of the self, or better, a technology of rule, a bio-melo-technology. After reading this book, one can no longer avoid realizing that music is more than a soundtrack: It is the condition of our lives. We are all melomaniacs, Szendy tells us in his unique style of writing and of thought. We are melo-obsessive subjects, not so much driven to a frenzy by a music wehardly have time to listen to as governed and ruled by it.

Excerpt

I would like to be able to tell you, dear reader, to declare to you: This book is for you.

All for you, especially for you, for you alone. Yet by saying that it’s All for you, whom might I already be citing? Janet Jackson, perhaps, who gave these words as a title to her 2001 album before it went on to sell over three million copies? By swearing that everything that follows was thought through Especially for you, what cover song am I already interpreting? Without knowing it, before even remembering it, am I not borrowing these words in advance from Kylie Minogue and her duet with Jason Donovan, which was a huge hit in 1998?

You and I, dear reader, are certainly not the first to notice the way the hit song especially addresses you and me, the way it addresses each one of us through what seems most singular about us. Especially for you was, for example, the title of one of the musical commodities (musikalische Waren) whose apostrophe was analyzed by Adorno in Quasi una fantasia with distrust and irony in order to denounce the illusion they produce.

Anyone who had harboured the illusion that an object
existed especially for him, and who had bought it on that

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