Article ID: CBB839291654

We Don’t Know That We Don’t Know What a Body Can Do … , or Spinoza and Some Social Lives of Sonic Material (2020)


This essay is about how artists, listeners and critics claim to hear life in a sound and how this suggestive, but hazily defined, provocation connects vast cultural circuits of production, technology and capital. I argue that claims to life in a sound also belie an anachronistic return to an early modern understanding of sound as particulate matter and suggest a technoscientific discourse in which sound and data are described in terms of one another. With a close engagement with microsounds – from Gilles Deleuze to computer music specialist Curtis Roads – this essay queries what sonic particulates are presumed to be when they are mapped onto Spinoza’s corpora simplicissima but processed through analogy synthesis or digital tools. In part, this essay tries to speak to a persistent separation of sonic materiality and auditory culture, in music and sound studies in which life in a sound cannot be thought apart from how life is subject to different kinds of extractions. With a return to Spinoza’s physics, this essay also retakes the often sloganized “no one knows what a body can do” to emphasize an ethical recomposition of the text in which to “know” must be as open-ended as “body” is typically emphasized to be.

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Authors & Contributors
Bellissima, Fabio
Vassányi, Miklós
En-Chieh Chao
Magnusson, Thor
Kennedy , Stephen
Pecere, Paolo
Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society
The Senses and Society
Science, Technology, and Human Values
Science and Education
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
Carocci Editore
Bloomsbury Academic
State University of New York at Buffalo
Middlesex University Press
Science and technology studies (STS)
Spinoza, Baruch
Descartes, René
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Galilei, Galileo
Wolff, Christian von
Wallis, John
Time Periods
Early modern
21st century
North America

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