Thresholds of Listening: Sound, Technics, Space

Thresholds of Listening: Sound, Technics, Space

Thresholds of Listening: Sound, Technics, Space

Thresholds of Listening: Sound, Technics, Space

Synopsis

Thresholds of Listening addresses recent and historical changes in the ways listening has been conceived. Listening, having been emancipated from the passive, subjected position of reception, has come to be asserted as an active force in culture and in collective and individual politics.
The contributors to this volume show that the exteriorization of listening brought into relief by recent historical studies of technologies of listening involves a re-negotiation of the theoretical and pragmatic distinctions that underpin the notion of listening. Focusing on the manifold borderlines between listening and its erstwhile others, such as speaking, reading, touching, seeing, or hearing, the book maps new frontiers in the history of aurality. They suggest that listenings finitude defined in some of the essays as its death or deadliness should be considered as a heuristic instrument rather than as a mere descriptor.
Listening emerges where it appears to end or to run up against thresholds and limits or when it takes unexpected turns. Listenings recent emergence on the cultural and theoretical scene may therefore be productively read against contemporary recurrences of the motifs of elusiveness, finitude, and resistance to open up new politics, discourses, and technologies of aurality.

Excerpt

Sander van Maas

When in 1972 the U.S. presidential candidate George McGovern aired a television commercial that portrayed him as a listener, the commercial was hastily withdrawn by the campaign because, according to its producer, Charles Guggenheim, it “didn’t make him look presidential enough.” Recounting this telling decision in an essay on listening in contemporary politics Andrew Wolvin suggests how in the decades after McGovern the status and meaning of listening evolved to the point that by early the 1990s presenting oneself as a listener became mandatory in the eyes of many politicians and their campaigns.

This collection of essays addresses recent and historical changes in the ways in which listening has been conceived as a cultural agency and act. Indeed, it argues that listening, by emancipating from an essentially implied, passive-receiving, and subjected position, has become an explicit factor in culture and the object of proactive collective and individual politics. As the essays in this volume show, the exteriorization of listening—which is brought into further relief by recent historical studies of technologies of listening—involves a renegotiation of the theoretical and pragmatic distinctions that underpin the notion of listening.

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