“[Edward] Hopper was a painter of erotico-metaphysics as described by Plato. Hopper joked about being a philosopher, but he did read Plato. Like the ancient philosopher, Hopper was fascinated by what isn’t available to our senses. In his mysterious paintings, he makes felt what isn’t there, the nothing, the nothing that isn’t there.
He was known to be solitary and thoughtful, like the blond woman in New York Movie. In the forties and fifties, it was easier to appreciate solitude than it is today. Hopper painted public places, rooms where people gathered, but usually with a few people or nobody in the rooms. Few people in those days went to museums during the week, and the galleries might be vacant. You could stand before a painting for long minutes and not hear voices. There was silence in those days. It was associated with solitude, sacredness, internal life.”
Leonard Michaels – “The Nothing that isn’t there” in: The Essays of Leonard Michaels
“The aesthetic subject in sound is defined by this fact of interaction with the auditory world. He is placed in the midst of its materiality, complicit with its production. The sounds of his footsteps are part of the auditory city he produces in his movements through it. His subject position is different from the viewing self, whose body is at a distance from the seen. The listener is entwined with the heard. His sense of the world and of himself is constituted in this bond.
The understanding gained is a knowing of the moment as a sensory event that involves the listener and the sound in a reciprocal inventive production, This conception challenges both notions of objectivity and of subjectivity, and reconsiders the possibility and place of meaning, which situates the re-evaluation of all three at the centre of a philosophy of sound art.”
Jean-Luc Nancy – Listening
“Listening in the library draws me into the minutia of human sounds. Every hum, cough, whisper, every footstep, sneeze, paper turn, rasp and throat clearing is amplified. In sound the library becomes an awkward space of fraught physicality: full of bodies, rigid and tense, trying to be silent. Ever so often the restraint cracks under the expectation: a mobile phone goes off, a voice misses the whispering register. In response a reproaching chorus of sounds ensues that leads the offending noise back into the approved sphere. In its rising and falling the sounds of the library invite the imagination of a boundary-less mass of human flesh, heaving in its own rhythm, oozing sighs and whispers and grasping me in its breath: a fleshy monster of which I am part, enveloped, swallowed in its hush as in a faintly murmuring beast. As I look up, I know the people are sitting at a distance, heads in books; their purpose firmly roots them in their own visual world. But in sound they come closer.”
Jean-Luc Nancy – Listening
“It is as though our languages were in a state of confusion: when we want an idea they bring us a word, when we require a word they bring us a dash, and when we expected a dash there stands an obscenity.”
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg – “Notebook F” in: The Waste Books. Translated and with an introduction by R.J. Hollingdale.
“There exists a condition which with me at least is not all that rare in which the presence and the absence of a beloved person are equally hard to endure; or at least in which the pleasure derived from their presence is not that which, to judge from the intolerableness of their absence, one would have expected it to be.”
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg – “Notebook G” in: The Waste Books. Translated and with an Introduction by R.J. Hollingdale.
“That old philosopher Fred Allen used to say he could not understand why someone would spend years writing a novel, when for a few dollars you could buy one practically anywhere. A similar remark might be made about contributions to that peculiar genre of creative nonfiction writing to which philosophical works such as this one belong. This book is an investigation into the nature of language: of the social practices that distinguish us as rational, indeed logical, concept-mongering creatures – knowers and agents. This is of course a topic that has been much explored by philosophers, both the mighty dead and the ablest contemporary thinkers. Surrounded as we are by the riches they have bequeathed, it is hard to avoid asking why one should bother reading – let alone writing – yet another such work. This question may seem all the more urgent inasmuch as it is acknowledged (indeed, some pains are taken to show) that the basic building blocks out of which this account is constructed – its motivating insights, commitments, and strategies – are not novel or original.”
Robert B. Brandom – Making it Explicit. Reasoning, Representing & Discursive Commitment.