Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener

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9781441149725: Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener

Sinister Resonance begins with the premise that sound is a haunting, a ghost, a presence whose location in space is ambiguous and whose existence in time is transitory. The intangibility of sound is uncanny a phenomenal presence both in the head, at its point of source and all around, and never entirely distinct from auditory hallucinations. The close listener is like a medium who draws out substance from that which is not entirely there.

The history of listening must be constructed from narratives of myth and fiction, silent arts such as painting, the resonance of architecture, auditory artefacts and nature. In such contexts, sound often functions as a metaphor for mystical revelation, instability, forbidden desires, disorder, formlessness, the unknown, unconscious and extra-human, a representation of immaterial worlds. As if reading a map of hitherto unexplored territory, Sinister Resonance deciphers sounds and silences buried within the ghostly horrors of Arthur Machen, Shirley Jackson, Charles Dickens, Algernon Blackwood, M.R. James and Edgar Allen Poe, seventeenth century Dutch genre painting from Rembrandt to Vermeer, artists as diverse as Francis Bacon and Juan Munoz, Ad Reinhardt and Piero Della Francesca, and the writing of many modernist authors, including Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce and William Faulkner. Threaded through the book is Marcel Duchamp's curious observation "One can look at seeing but one can't hear hearing" and his concept of the infra-thin, those human experiences so fugitive that they exist only in the imaginative absences of perception.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

David Toop is a musician, writer, and sound curator. His acclaimed books include Rap Attack, Ocean of Sound, Exotica, and Haunted Weather. His writing has also appeared in The Wire, Bookforum, and the New York Times. He lives in London.

Review:

It's as if contemporary culture has developed a case of hyperacusis in the form of Toop's 'perpetual vigilance' as he haunts the permeable boundary between the extremities of sound and the fullness of silence. Ruminating on its unmatched power of evocation, Toop manifests sound after transient sound from the pages of this 'silent art', increasing awareness of our own auditory acuity as the walls between inner and outer space collapse around our ears. - David Sylvian



David Toop is the brilliant voyager of our sonic century, for whom music is a map of our dreams. With Sinister Resonance he takes us yet farther and deeper into coordinates uncharted but remembered all the same, beyond the horizon where the listener meets the listened. - Steve Erickson



For starters, Toop hauls out his 233 note Jaws-Harp and plays us ancient Siren's songs, Bloom's farts, Munch's round-the-world scream, the surfaces of Ad Reinhardt's paintings, Virginia Woolf's brooding interiors, Lynch's scary foley designs over an Akio Suzuki inaudible installation, in a seamless, erudite and virtuoso literary performance of the sound of sound sounding...yeah, a veritable sonic Tsunami. For anyone looking for the ultimate "lost chord," this is the place to find it! - Alvin Curran

It's all about a sound that no one could hear except those who might listen. And for ears that [can] dream.........what a noise !!! -Brothers Quay



No work on the subject of listening is as erudite, thoughtful, wide-ranging, and readable as Sinister Resonance. Toop's previous books revealed the astonishing breadth of his musical tastes and the immensity of his sonic world. Here he extends his purview to literature and art, treating paintings, sculptures, novels, and poems as objects with a spectral sonic life discernible through sensitive looking and listening. The result is a profound and thrilling meditation on the senses and their interrelationships that vastly surpasses fashionable but facile conceptions of "synaesthesia." - Christoph Cox

Mention in the New Titles section. The Wire, 1st June 2010.

"This is not just a book about the uncanny history of sound, but about the hidden affinities between eras and art forms. The patterns it divines make Sinister Resonance something like a sonically minded companion to Marina Warner's Phantasmagoria, on the haunted nature of photography and cinema." - The Wire

'Toop has provided a valuable companion to new departures in the academic study of sound.' ( Times Higher Education Supplement)

'This fourth in Toop's series of meditations turns out to be the most illuminating yet.' (THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

'Scarily erudite but ultimately enthralling.' (guardian.co.uk)

Sinister Resonance succeeds in arguing for the centrality of sound to emotional, psychological, social and political experience. This marks a welcome break from conventional aesthetic analysis. ( Radical Philosophy)

No work on the subject of listening is as erudite, thoughtful, wide-ranging, and readable as Sinister Resonance. Toop’s previous books revealed the astonishing breadth of his musical tastes and the immensity of his sonic world. Here he extends his purview to literature and art, treating paintings, sculptures, novels, and poems as objects with a spectral sonic life discernible through sensitive looking and listening. The result is a profound and thrilling meditation on the senses and their interrelationships that vastly surpasses fashionable but facile conceptions of “synaesthesia.” - Christoph Cox

Mention in the New Titles section. The Wire, 1st June 2010. 

'Toop has provided a valuable companion to new departures in the academic study of sound.' (Sanford Lakoff)

'This fourth in Toop's series of meditations turns out to be the most illuminating yet.' (Sanford Lakoff)

'Scarily erudite but ultimately enthralling.’ (Sanford Lakoff)

Sinister Resonance succeeds in arguing for the centrality of sound to emotional, psychological, social and political experience. This marks a welcome break from conventional aesthetic analysis. (Sanford Lakoff)

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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