Sex, Violence, and the Aesthetics of Failure, or Listening to the Ninth Symphony as Postmodern Sublime
This chapter looks at Susan McClary's comparison of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to a failed rape. The chapter recontextualizes McClary by linking her to a hermeneutic tradition of sublimating description that predates high-modernist formalism. The rape image presented by her, when read with full attention to its kinesthetic specificity, encodes the complex and postmodern relation to form with aphoristic brutality. The rape described by McClary is a failure where her antihero is unable to attain release and this argument is used as a key formal insight into Beethoven's aesthetics of failure. THe chapter also discusses how identifying the moment of recapitulation as a failed rape turns out to be powerful analytical key instead of a distraction from form or a deviation into dodgy politics.
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