Stop Making Sense: Music from the Perspective of the Real

Author(s) : Scott Wilson

Part of The Psychoanalysis and Popular Culture Series - more in this series

Stop Making Sense: Music from the Perspective of the Real

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Stop Making Sense offers an original and compelling theory of music “from the perspective of the real” as this term is understood according to the Lacanian orientation in psychoanalysis. Specific examples and cases discussed include Freud’s melophobia, or fear of music; Che Guevara’s revolutionary a-rhythmia; John F. Nash’s obsession with “Bach’s Little Fugue”; Talking Heads and Asperger’s syndrome/autism; Yoko Ono and the sense of “lack” in the Beatles; the role of “Imagine” in the murder of John Lennon; Brian Eno and the digital auto-generation of Freud’s ‘oceanic feeling’; Aphex Twin and the brain-dance of the hikikomori; and the utopian promise of Merzbow.

The first part of the book explains its theoretical and methodological underpinnings that are based in a reading of subjects and symptoms such as amusia. The second and third parts focus on contemporary examples that look at how music has become both a powerful locus of discontent and also a form of orientation in an age of generalized psychosis imposed by neoliberalism as a form of governance. This has been accelerated by the regime of digital telecommunications since the early 1990s, which has seen the emergence of various new symptoms related to the autistic jouissance to which we have been confined with our gadgets and networked computers.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘If the problematic distinction between music and noise has already been fought over in much recent work in the philosophy of music, with this book Scott Wilson enters the arena wearing the colours of psychoanalysis. In adopting this mode of attack and taking as a given the non-categorical distinction and imbricated relations between music, noise, and voice, Wilson’s book helps us understand the bipolar psychic force of music, its ability to be both the tie that binds and that which tears us apart. Read it for this reason, and to appreciate his point more fully, follow his opening provocation and play the deliciously sadistic parlour game that, by his account, gave birth to his core idea.’
— Greg Hainge, University of Queensland; author of Noise Matters: Towards an Ontology of Noise

Stop Making Sense launches a series of deep probes into the contemporary cultural condition. Music stands in for an order that is both imposed and resisted, and when music turns wrong, or is heard as something outside of musical order, its amusia makes it a privileged auscultatory device. This book has achieved the rare task of successfully bringing Lacan’s thought to bear on the formal structures of music and its rejection, and represents an impressive incursion into musical disturbance.’
— Paul Hegarty, University College Cork; author of Rumour and Radiation: Sound in Video Art

About the Author(s)

Scott Wilson is Professor of Media and Psychoanalysis at the London Graduate School, Kingston University, London. His books include The Order of Joy: Beyond the Cultural Politics of Enjoyment, Great Satan’s Rage: American Negativity and Rap/Metal in the Age of Supercapitalism, and Melancology: Black Metal and Ecology. He is the editor with Michael Dillon of the Journal for Cultural Research.

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