… Evocation: a call and, in the call, breath, exhalation, inspiration and expiration. In appellare, what comes first is not the idea of “naming,” but that of a pressure, an impulsion.
This is from Listening by Jean-Luc Nancy (2007):
…Is listening something of which philosophy is capable? Or — we’ll insist a little, despite everything, at the risk of exaggerating the point — hasn’t philosophy superimposed upon listening, beforehand and of necessity, or else substituted for listening, something else that might be more on the order of understanding?
Isn’t the philosopher someone who always hears (and who hears everything), but who cannot listen, or who, more precisely, neutralizes listening within himself, so that he can philosophize?
Not, however, without finding himself immediately given over to the slight keen indecision that grates, rings out, or shouts between “listening” and “understanding”: between two kinds of hearing, between two paces [allures] of the same (the same sense, but what sense precisely? that’s another question), between a tension and a balance, or else, if you prefer, between a sense (that one listens to) and a truth (that one understands), although the one cannot, in the long run, do without the other?
… To be listening is always to be on the edge of meaning, or in an edgy meaning of extremity, and as if the sound were precisely nothing else than this edge, this fringe, this margin — at least the sound that is musically listened to, that is gathered and scrutinized for itself, not, however, as an acoustic phenomenon (or not merely as one) but as a resonant meaning, a meaning whose sense is supposed to be found in resonance, and only in resonance.
But what can be the shared space of meaning and sound? Meaning consists in a reference [renvoi]. In fact, it is made of a totality of referrals: from a sign to a thing, from a state of things to a quality, from a subject to another subject or to itself, all simultaneously. Sound is also made of referrals: it spreads in space, where it resounds while still resounding “in me,” as we say (we will return to this “inside” of the subject; we will return to nothing but that).
… as we have known since Aristotle, sensing [sentir] (aisthesis) is always a perception [ressentir], that is, a feeling-oneself-feel [se-sentir-sentir]: or, if you prefer, sensing is a subject, or it does not sense.
… One can say, then, at least, that meaning and sound share the space of a referral, in which at the same time they refer to each other, and that, in a very general way, this space can be defined as the space of a self, a subject. A self is nothing other than a form or function of referral: a self is made of a relationship to self, or of a presence to self, which is nothing other than the mutual referral between a perceptible individuation and an intelligible identity (not just the individual in the current sense of the word, but in him the singular occurrences of a state, a tension, or, precisely, a “sense”) [ … ] A subject feels: that is his characteristic and his definition. This means that he hears (himself), sees (himself), touches (himself), tastes (himself), and so on, and that he thinks himself or represents himself, approaches himself and strays from himself, and thus always feels himself feeling a “self” that escapes [ s’échappe] or hides [se retranche] as long as it resounds elsewhere as it does in itself, in a world and in the other.
… When one is listening, one is on the lookout for a subject, something (itself) that identifies itself by resonating from self to self, in itself and for itself, hence, outside of itself, at once the same as and other than itself, one in the echo of the other, and this echo is like the very sound of its sense. But the sound of sense is how it refers to itself or how it sends back to itself [s’envoie] or addresses itself, and thus how it makes sense.
… To be listening is … to enter into tension and to be on the lookout for a relation to self: not, it should be emphasized, a relationship to “me” (the supposedly given subject), or to the “self” of the other (the speaker, the musician, also supposedly given, with his subjectivity), but to the relationship in self, so to speak, as it forms a “self” or a “to itself” in general, and if something like that ever does reach the end of its formation. Consequently, listening is passing over to the register of presence to self, it being understood that the “self” is precisely nothing available (substantial or subsistent) to which one can be “present,” but precisely the resonance of a return [renvoi].
… Sound essentially comes and expands, or is deferred and transferred. [ … ] It is a present in waves on a swell, not in a point on a line; it is a time that opens up, that is hollowed out, that is enlarged or ramified, that envelops or separates, that becomes or is turned into a loop, that stretches out or contracts, and so on.
… Sound (and/or sense) is what is not at first intended. It is not first “intentional”: on the contrary, sound is what places its subject, which has not preceded it with an aim, in tension, or under tension.
On this account, we should say … that music (or even sound in general) is not exactly a phenomenon; that is to say, it does not stem from a logic of manifestation. It stems from a different logic, which would have to be called evocation, but in this precise sense: while manifestation brings presence to light, evocation summons (convokes, invokes) presence to itself. It does not establish it any more than it supposes it already established. It anticipates its arrival and remembers its departure, itself remaining suspended and straining between the two: time and sonority, sonority as time and as meaning. Evocation: a call and, in the call, breath, exhalation, inispiration and expiration. In appellare, what comes first is not the idea of “naming,” but that of a pressure, an impulsion.
… While the subject of the target is always already given, posed in itself to its point of view, the subject of listening is always still yet to come, spaced, traversed, and called by itself, sounded by itself …