[Smt-talk] Phenomenology, tangent from Classical Form and Recursion

Ildar Khannanov solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 30 13:29:53 PDT 2009

Dear Brian,
thank you for the clarification of the prevous mesage.
We discussed Mutterleib in these terms in our younger days at the Institute of Philosophy in Moscow. It was half-joke and half-serious matter. Imagine putting a music theorist back in there: he or she will immediately loose the ablity to observe and measure. These logocentric strategies will not work there. And visual metaphorization will also gradually fade, together with memories of the objectal world.
I knew that there would be problems with Merleau-Ponty placed next to the topic above. I should have separated them. However, the invisibilty of the kind M-P. writes about involves not the loss of vision in a subject, but the shrinking or disappearance of the subject, so that the Other cannot see the subject anymore. This does not mean that the I disappeared. No, it just stopped talking. Tacit cogito. And if it is necessary to return the subject, the subject has to be reconstituted, reassembled, etc.  In its present state this invisible world does not require syntax (the subject is not yet assembled), it is comprised of pure phenomena. One of them is tonal function, a powerstation for musical development. 
Here I would like to clarify, that I view-- no, I sense!-- tonal function not as the property of a chord. I understand tonal function as the rleationship. In this, I agree with Viennese theorists. However, this relationship for me is not contingent upon "geometry," " voice leading," "context," "distance,"  "presence of the structure." I think that tonal function is a pure phenomenological relationship. Tonic holds, Dominant  dominates, Subdominant does something under, lowers the tension, provides the second opinion, cools off the tension. Example: I respect my father. There was time when we lived in the same house. Then we were separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Now, when he is not with us anymore, my relationship with him remains absoutely the same as when we were together. Tonal function is a potentiality, a yet unborn subject, which can be used in writing good voice-leading and creating meaningful syntax. It is an Ariadne's thread for a student
 working on harmonization of an unfigured melody and for a composer writing a masterpiece.
Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Conservatory 

--- On Mon, 3/30/09, Brian Kane <brian.kane at yale.edu> wrote:

From: Brian Kane <brian.kane at yale.edu>
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Phenomenology, tangent from Classical Form and Recursion
To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Cc: "Ildar Khannanov" <solfeggio7 at yahoo.com>
Date: Monday, March 30, 2009, 2:13 PM

Dear Ildar, 

I admire your interest in phenomenology. However, this seems to be a much more complicated field than we can presently handle.

Why is this more complicated than we can handle? I'm sorry but I don't think that one can wipe away the discussion with the wave of a hand.

More to the point, I'll address your three bullet points:

1) Your quote from Scruton indicate that you both missed one important problem:
What we understand, in understanding music, is not the material world, but the intentional object: the organization that can be heard in the experience (Scruton, The Aesthetics of Music, 221) 
This is exactly the mistake which Roman Ingarden made and that caused him the relationship with Husserl. Music is not an intentional object.

I think that you are confusing my position with Roger Scruton's (or Ingarden's). Nowhere did I say that I agree with Scruton's claim--hence I don't know how "you both" (i.e. Scruton and I) have made a mistake. My point was simply that an appeal to the acousmatic situation does not, of its own accord, efface real and virtual spatiality. If you possess a theory of the senses that can demonstrate how closing one's eyes can efface real and virtual space (and the Other), then with all earnestness I'd love to hear about it. 

2) Your presentation on intersubjectivity as an earlier topic and "reduction" as the later does not make any sense.

I'm not sure why you find this confusing and worthy of dismissal. Perhaps you misunderstood my sentence, "The path that Husserl takes in the later work always moves via intersubjectivity towards reduction, as opposed to the Cartesian approach of the Ideas I, which was often accused of being solipsistic. Iso Kern has a nice essay on this..." 

I'll make it clearer. Look, we both know that reduction gets its classic treatement in the writings that lead up to Ideas I, culminating in §32 (on the epoche) of that work. Naturally, the question of intersubjectivity is involved in Husserl early work, but it is hardly controversial to say that it gets a fuller treatment in the later works as the concept of the Lebenswelt is being developed in response to Heidegger. When I said that the later work moves via intersubjectivity towards reduction I was merely echoing a point that the Husserl scholar Iso Kern makes in "The Three Ways to the Transcendental Phenomenological Reduction in the Philosophy of Edmund Husserl," in Husserl: Expositions and Appraisals, ed. McCormick and Elliston: 126-149. In that essay, Kern describes three different strategies that Husserl used over his career to introduce the concept of the "reduction": The Cartesian way, presented in Ideas I; the way through "intentional
 psychology" from the "Erste Philosophie" lecture of 1923-4; and finally, the way thorough the ontology of the Lebenswelf, as presented in the Krisis. (Let me know if you, or anyone else, want a .pdf!)

Now that that's clear, perhaps there could be a real response to my old point 2. I found it strange that you invoked Husserl's Lebenswelt and Merleau-Ponty to argue for the erasure of the other in the intra-uterine experience of the fetus in the Mutterleib. Even Derrida and company wouldn't support this claim--in fact, this motif of the "sonorous envelope" or the mother's womb is something of a trope in that body of literature. It is typically used to support the claim that all listening is originally intersubjective, in that before we are even ourselves we are always already "rhythmed" by the mother's voice and heartbeat.

For example, here's Lacoue-Labarthe from the "Echo of the Subject" in Typography, ed. Fynsk, p. 205-6: 

"...perhaps it is impossible to get beyond the maternal closure. Of what else, other than the mother, could there in fact be reminiscence? What other voice could come back to us? What else could echo, resonate in us, seem familiar to us?"

Before we turn ourselves into subjects via auto-affection, we are always hetero-affected...

Lastly, your comment: 

3) As a result, it happened so that both Husserl and Merleau-Ponty do not belong in this discussion, while Dr. Lewin has become the only phenomenologist worthy of discussion. This is quite strange.

I said nothing of the sort. I think Husserl and Merleau-Ponty are central to the discussion, not only discussion of recursion but absolutely central to theories of the sensorium, listening, "acousmatic" sound, subjectivity, etc. etc. etc. That's precisely why I don't think it is legitimate to say that it is a "more complicated field than we can presently handle." If not now, when? Furthermore, it isn't an either/or between Lewin and Phenomenologists.


Brian Kane

Assistant Professor
Department of Music
Yale University
206 Stoeckel Hall

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