Listening / Edition 4

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In this lyrical meditation on listening, Jean-Luc Nancy examines sound in relation to the human body. How is listening different from hearing? What does listening entail? How does what is heard differ from what is seen? Can philosophy even address listening, écouter, as opposed to entendre, which means both hearing and understanding?

Unlike the visual arts, sound produces effects that persist long after it has stopped. The body, Nancy says, is itself like an echo chamber, responding to music by inner vibrations as well as outer attentiveness. Since "the ear has no eyelid" (Quignard), sound cannot be blocked out or ignored: our whole being is involved in listening, just as it is involved in interpreting what it hears.

The mystery of music and of its effects on the listener is subtly examined. Nancy's skill as a philosopher is to bring the reader companionably along with him as he examines these fresh and vital questions; by the end of the book the reader feels as if listening very carefully to a person talking quietly, close to the ear.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Listening adds a much needed poetic register to the philosophy of music and sonic culture."-Parallax

"In Charlotte Mandell's splendid translation of Jean-Luc Nancy's brief but passionate A l'ecoute, the French philosopher gives us a glimpse of this completely different philosophy of music."-Current Musicology

"Can philosophy listen rather than attempting to understand what comes by way of sonorousness?, Jean-Luc Nancy asks. He proceeds to show that it can, his book opening as an echo chamber in which he explores how sense resounds beyond significance in the experience of listening."-Lars Iyer, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

"Nancy's meditations on the act of listening-as distinct from the hearing-to-understand of philosophy, and continually contrasted with looking-compose, themselves, a kind of music, with its own considerable sonorous resources, the mutual resonances of which translator Charlotte Mandell conducts to superb effect. Nancy's refractions on the relation of art, especially music, to the rise of fascism rise here in a voice that resounds."-David Levi Strauss, Bard College

"What is it to listen with all one's being? To listen and not merely to understand? Can sense simply resound and not direct itself to meaning? In asking these questions Jean-Luc Nancy opens a fresh space for the philosophy of music, and for a new conception of the self as a 'resonant subject.'"-Kevin Hart, University of Virginia

"A significant contribution to the literature of phenomenology and a work of groundbreaking scholarship."-Richard Rand, University of Alabama

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823227730
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2007
  • Edition description: 4
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 100
  • Sales rank: 1,349,648
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 5.20 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean-Luc Nancy is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg. Among the most recent of his many books to be published in English are Corpus; Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity; Noli me tangere: On the Raising of the Body; The Truth of Democracy; and Adoration: The Destruction of Christianity II (all Fordham).

Charlotte Mandell has translated over twenty books, including several books for Fordham: Peter Szendy's Listen: A History of Our Ears and Jean-Luc Nancy's Listening. Her most recent translation is The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell.

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