Phantom Limbs

Phantom Limbs : On Musical Bodies

By (author)  , Translated by 

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The prostheses Peter Szendy explores-those peculiar artifacts known as musical instruments-are not only technical devices but also bodies that live a strange phantom life, as uncanny as a sixth finger or a third lung.

The musicological impulse to inventory those bodies that produce sound is called into question here. In Szendy's hands, its respectable corpus of scholarship is read aslant, so as to tease out what it usually prefers to hide: hybrids and grafts produced by active fictions, monsters, and chimera awaiting the opportunity to be embodied. Beyond these singular bodies that music composes and disposes there lies the figure of a collective "social" body ready to emerge amid an innervated apparatus that operates at a distance, telepathically.

Phantom Limbs touches on bodies of all shapes and sizes that haunt the edges of music's conceptualizations. Music continually reinvents such bodies and reconvenes them in new collective formations. It is their dynamics and crystallizations that Szendy auscultates on a motley corpus that includes Bach, Diderot, Berlioz, Eisenstein, Disney, and Monk.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 17.78mm | 358.34g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0823267059
  • 9780823267057

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Table of contents

Introduction 1. Interpreting Bodies 2. Effictions 3. Organologics (1): The Erasure of Bodies 4. Touch Ups, or the Return of Bodies 5. Idioms, Or the Dialect of Bodies 6. Monk, A Legend 7. Traces of Fingers 8. Digital Rhetoric 9. Ablations and Grafts ("Too Many Fingers") 10. Romantic Fingers ("System of Touch") 11. Feet 12. Joyful Tropiques (Evolution, Revolutions) 13. Two Dispatches (One Fictive and the Other Dreamed Up) 14. Organologics (2): Autophony 15. Genesis (1): Ocular Harpsichord, Organ of Flavors 16. Telepathy 17. Scruples (Clones and Stand-Ins) 18. Conducting (Seen From the Back) 19. Genesis (2) : Fantasia, or "Plasmaticity" 20. Touching from Afar 21. Organologics (3): Areality 22. Bodies Electric 23. Mass Formations 24. P.S. Notes
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Review quote

"The first truly comprehensive critique of organology-the study of musical instruments as related to the human body. A smart, lucid and original study, translated superbly by Will Bishop." -- -Richard A. Rand Professor of English Emeritus, University of Alabama "A patient meditation on the musical body. Szendy provides a stunning reading of the digital history of the finger, or 'digit.' We witness the multiplication of digits, the multiplication of hands and fingers, the regulation of bodies in the hope of having as many fingers as we need to play on the keyboard. But there is more to musical bodies; there are the virtual bodies of instruments who would play without contact of touch, repeating the motion of music that touches us through the ether, and there is the body of a conductor, who governs the body politic that is the orchestra. This is a compelling study." -- -Gil Anidjar Columbia University "A very original discussion of the production of the body through music. Szendy takes up a variety of musical practices in their fascinating and little-known history." -- -Susan Bernstein Brown University
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About Peter Szendy

Peter Szendy is David Herlihy Professor of Humanities and Comparative Literature at Brown University and musicological advisor for the concert programs at the Paris Philharmonie. His books include Of Stigmatology: Punctuation as Experience; All Ears: The Aesthetics of Espionage; Apocalypse-Cinema: 2012 and Other Ends of the World; Kant in the Land of Extraterrestrials; Hits: Philosophy in the Jukebox; and Listen: A History of Our Ears. Will Bishop holds a doctorate in French Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in Paris, where he teaches and translates.
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