“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

La Selva

Can I highly, highly recommend reading Alphonso Lingis's The Imperative while listening to Francisco Lopez's La Selva? Lopez opens your ears to the enveloping sound of the jungle as I remember it from an all too brief trip to the Amazon in 1987. You are enveloped by life forms, totally. The temperature is 98 degrees—no difference between inside and outside. Day surges up like the sun in Shelley's The Triumph of Life. And night surges up just as rapidly. Minimal twilight. Far and near begin to lose definition. The jungle is a hyperobject. Intimacy with a massively distributed object. An object whose parts far outnumber the whole.

Lopez's work is the most stunning I've heard for a while...

And Lingis is the Lopez of philosophy. Intense, compelling objects that surround you like skin, that are your skin, that seduce you at every turn, that tell you how to listen to them, look at them, handle them. Not an aestheticized “lifeworld” with its distances and horizons, but something much more intimate and profound.

Lopez from his website:

Much against a widespread current trend in sound art and the customary standard in nature recordings, I believe in the possibility of a profound, pure, 'blind' listening of sounds, freed (as much as possible) of procedural, contextual or intentional levels of reference.

And he's spot on about sound art. It's not about realism as “rendering” some simulation of real-ness, but about producing what Pierre Schaeffer called sound objects. He thus opposes acoustic ecology, as do I, even though (because!) he is an ecologist...


Anonymous said...

Apropos of Lopez, if you aren't familiar with it already, you may find Leigh Landy's book from 2007 or '08, Understanding the Art of Sound Organization, interesting. It's on Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/23745423/Understanding-the-Art-of-Sound-Organization-Landy

Here's the MIT Press blurb: http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11258&mlid=646


Timothy Morton said...

Hey thanks for that--this looks fascinating.