Dialogue on the Threshold

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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The regression of listening

In one of his essays, Aldous Huxley has raised the question of who, in a place of amusement, is really being amused. With the same justice, it can be asked whom music for entertainment still entertains. Rather, it seems to complement the reduction of people to silence, the dying out of speech as expression, the inability to communicate at all. It inhabits the pockets of silence that develop between people moulded by anxiety, work and undemanding docility. Everywhere it takes over, unnoticed, the deadly sad rôle that fell to it in the time and the specific situation of the silent films. It is perceived purely as background. If nobody can any longer speak, then certainly nobody can any longer listen.

Theodor W. Adorno, "On the fetish character in music and the regression of listening",  
The Culture Industry, ed. J. M. Bernstein, Routledge, 1991, p. 27

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