Completely with you, Sarah, concerning the "relationship between sound/ear and emotions" and I wish to particularly focus in on your use of "why music moves us so deeply." To pick up on an earlier post that involved the French term sens with 'directionality': the movements of mind/body/imagination/emotions/etc. in ways that are not wholly predictable, controllable, explainable, comprehensible -- how sound (not just 'music') can get so directly on to our nervous system, into our veins and brain stem, our entire physiology, affect our biochemistry so intensely and subtly (pharmaceutically?), without necessarily going through any form of narrativity or conceptualization, let alone other gradients of linguality. I feel I carry around sounds far more powerfully and with greater longevity than any lingual sign or form of signification.
On a completely different track concerning reason and its relation to human emotion and action, a Foucauldian intervention:
“All human behavior is scheduled and programmed through rationality. There is a logic of institutions and in behavior and in political relations. In even the most violent ones there is a rationality. What is most dangerous in violence is its rationality. Of course, violence itself is terrible. But the deepest root of violence and its permanence come out of the form of the rationality we use. The idea had been that if we live in the world of reason, we can get rid of violence. This is quite wrong. Between violence and rationality there is no incompatibility.”
Jon, you've provided a beautiful encapsulation of the way sound acts on the body: "sound (not just 'music') can get so directly on to our nervous system, into our veins and brain stem, our entire physiology, affect our biochemistry so intensely and subtly (pharmaceutically?), without necessarily going through any form of narrativity or conceptualization, let alone other gradients of linguality." Thank you for this. I'm wondering if we can say something similar about visual form. Because while I agree there's something particularly direct about sound (the physicality of its pulse, the way it penetrates and vibrates inside your cavities and organs), and while the non-representational nature of (most) music gives it a backdoor pass around the grasping and cunning intellect, I've often felt the same deep somatic intensity (that literal "being moved") before great works of abstract art. (As I've said elsewhere here, representational work rarely does this to me, although I should confess that I look at a whole lot less of it than abstraction!) Vision may be the most detached sense in its capacity to function over great distances, but I don't consider a fleshly encounter with visual art an exclusively visual affair. For me, there are the smells (whether these register consciously or not), the way the thing sits in space, the dialogue it engages with all other things in proximity, the way it charges up the air around it with its material presence and the dynamic interplay of its compositional forces. In short, when I stand before a great work of visual art I don't just feel it emotionally, I feel it as an active and formidable *bodily* presence -- flesh meeting flesh in an intense electrochemical exchange. I wonder if others would like to chime in on this.
I am late to this but working with sound my whole life and making abstract visual work that is influenced by sound: the reason sound/music moves us so much, I think, is because it is a pressure wave- literally pressing on our bodies. Also as a consequence of being a pressure wave, as opposed to the transverse wave of light (visual art), it is completely immersive, and potentially completely abstract.
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