The following quotations are from:
Jean-Luc Nancy, Listening, pp. 49-59. Trans. Charlotte Mandell, Fordham University Press, 2007.
“Music, dance, architecture: this trio could be characterized as a trio of the arts of expansion, giving this term its most generous, least hegemonic definition, without, however, refusing to see, or even worse, without repressing the awareness that expansion, the opening of a wide space of exaltation, of highlighting and dramatizing, always harbors the most formidable of ambiguities. But it harbors this resource most dangerously exactly when it presents itself as, and when it sets out to be, expansion—outpouring, overflowing, dilation and sublimation, the propagation of a subjectivity.
Subjectivity cannot spread or take root without being propagated and communicated. Territorial expansion is only a metaphor for the osmotic, epidemic, contagious impulse (think of the morbid attraction the Nazis had to the image of microbial infection as applied to ‘subhumans,’ indicative, in fact, of their impulse toward contagion and the inoculation of their own virulence) that comprises the first justification for all forms of agitation, riot, and violence.” 51-52
“Music harbors a force of communication and participation that all forms of secular, religious, or aesthetic power that have succeeded each other through our history have not failed to recognize since at least the time when the term mousike designated the ensemble of forms and exercises of expression of a wider sense than the single sense signified by words. This expressive, communicative, pulse-shaping, disseminating power…” 52
“From Schopenhauer to Nietzsche and Liszt… all the arts… projected into musical interiority and expressivity the need for an energy detached from the moorings that till then had held fixed in place the connected registers of cosmological structure (of harmonic order) and of representational technique (of objective reference).
The passage from a plastic and poetic paradigm to a musical paradigm corresponds to this: the order of significations articulated according to the translation of an easily identifiable and (re)constructible reality gives way to the expressive order of an essentially ineffable intimacy (Schopenhauer called it ‘will’; the ‘will-to-live,’ that is to say, being as desire rather than being as reason.” 53
“…the resources of music (and of dance and architecture) in its capacities of harnessing, mobilization, and exaltation were not invented by the Nazis; people before them had already taken hold of those capacities, in the name of State, Church, or ‘worldview.’” 54
“It was no longer a question so much of letting a fundamental affect come to expression but of shaping such an affect, of forming it…” 55
“Goebbels said in 1937: ‘Art is nothing other than what shapes feeling. It comes from feeling and not from intelligence. The artist is nothing but one who gives direction to this feeling.’ The artist, then, is only a relay between informal feeling and trained feeling endowed with meaning. It is implied, then, that sentiment needs to be given form and thus provided with a direction… it will be less a question of going from a given community to its own song than of coming from it by means of song to a community thus formed. Feeling which is at the source, must be captured and collected…” 56
“What is found to be obliterated, stifled in music, is precisely what distinguishes it and what also figured in the heart of its interpretation that I will for convenience call ‘romantic’: namely, an insurmountable and necessary—even desirable—distance between sound and sense, a distance without which sonority would cease to be what it is.” 58
“The intimacy of music is an intimacy more intimate than any evocation or any invocation. But for that very reason, it remains exactly at the distance of music from words, and that distance is not one that could separate a sovereign of sublime speech from a humble and subjugated speech. No speech lets itself be given form here, even if this form is intended as the form of the formless. Nazism had no other will than making the formless conform. But have this temptation, this fervor or this rage, left us? Can they leave us, so long as we have not restored to the distance from ‘meaning’ all the extension and tension it requires?” 59