Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener

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Toop may have better proved his points through fewer examples and more detailed information; as long as he kept the book moving.

Sinister Resonance

We log anonymous usage statistics. Please read the privacy information for details. Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer. Ariel Rubinstein - manuscript. Klein on Justification and Certainty. Gary Toop - - Philosophia 26 Something Deep and Sinister.

John Churchill - - Modern Theology 8 1 Transcendence, Truth, and Argumentation.

Daring to Presume. Sage Publications. Anna Livia. : Sinister resonance: the mediumship of the listener () : : Books

David Sterritt - - Film-Philosophy 14 1 Gustav Emil Mueller - - Norman, Okla. Healy - - Foundations of Chemistry 13 1 Dobbs - - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 12 45 Rasmussen - - Journal of Value Inquiry 40 Amnon Goldworth - - History of Philosophy Quarterly 4 1 - The name of the central character is Hawk- eye, the scout with raptor vision, yet what I recall, and a rereading confirms this, is the importance of hearing to survival in the forest.

Though the narrative becomes laborious and barely credible, Cooper maintains interest with vivid descriptions of an intense engagement with a sublime yet dangerous environment. Sight is prioritized — the naming of this engagement falls by default to the eye — but some of the most strikingly affective incidents of the story are auditory.

In this context, the cave functions as a vernacular church in which the sonorous tones of Christianity resonate in natural acoustics. Wilderness is reclaimed by holy texts that stir the emotions and raise the morale of the listeners, only to be pulled back into inexplicability by an external sound so strange that even the scout is inclined momentarily to consider unearthly origins.

But I am fascinated by the spectral qualities of sound, disturbing noises, eerie silences and the enchantments of music. Distant music is the perfect poetic expression for such qualities another debt we owe to James Joyce , a reaching back into the lost places of the past, the slippages and mirages of memory, history reaching forward in the intangible form of sound to reconfigure the present and future.


All of us, or should I say those of us equipped from the beginning with the faculty of hearing, begin as eavesdroppers in darkness, hearing muffled sounds from an external world into which we have yet to be born. Four and a half months after conception we begin to hear.

This is the first of our senses to function: hearing dominates amniotic life and yet after birth its importance is overtaken by seeing. Sound, which had been absolute and causeless in the womb, becomes something understood to happen as the result of. The enjoyment a child takes in banging things together is the enjoyment of this discovery: first there is no sound, and then — bang! If they lack a cause, then our need is to invent one. Places are saturated with unverifiable atmospheres and memory and these are derived as much from sound as any other sensation.

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Although this book is more about listening than it is about music, in the first section I list sounds and recordings of music that connect me with that presentiment of reaching back or forward over hidden far distance to hear echoes of an unverifiable past. Some of these recordings have never been released in digital formats, so I listen to them on vinyl.

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When the stylus connects with the surface of the record the crackle of this contact ushers in a ghost of time, even before music has begun. Like the cracklings and stirrings of leaf and twig heard by Virginia Woolf, this is a transformative sound, a sound that dispels for a moment the visual, tactile reality of the present.

In the amniotic ocean, all of us are unified by the furtive yet helpless condition of eavesdropping, unable to identify what we hear when its operation is enacted in another space, entirely beyond our experience as unborn beings.

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Am I hearing things? Is there anybody there? I began a new phase of enquiry by asking such hypothetical questions. Why, for example, are the various modalities of sound — from silence to noise — associated so frequently with disquiet, uncertainty and fear, with childhood terrors and a horror of the unknown?

David Toop

At the same time, many people seem to be oblivious to noise and resistant to silence. The two positions seem contradictory, but are they inextricably linked? A duck hears also. Is listening more attentive than hearing, or is it the other way around? Listening may be executed with effort yet result in nothing being heard, whereas hearing may begin as instinct and end in Le Sacre du Printemps. The point is that all hearing individuals are open to sounds at all times.

There is shuteye, but no shutear. Our reasons for deciding to listen, or learning to hear, may range from survival to poetry, from sexual desire to jealous desperation, from curiosity to snooping with malice. Developing our listening abilities in order to gain a deeper understanding of complex passages of sound from the entire auditory world — this is a decision that involves a rejection of cultural norms. I had been thinking more deeply about sound and silence, attempting to separate out the experience of hearing everyday sounds from the act of listening to music.

Listening more intently to those microscopic sounds, atmospheres and minimal acoustic environments that we call silence, led me to examine more closely the subtle perceptual entwinement of our senses.

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