Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
SoundsThe Ambient Humanities$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

John Mowitt

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520284623

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520284623.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 June 2022



(p.99) 5. Silence

John Mowitt

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on silence—the absence or complete suppression of sound. It presents a reading of the encounter between four intellectual figures and traditions: John Cage and his various engagements with silence; Franz Kafka and his parable, “The Silence of the Sirens”; Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer's allegorization of the Sirens episode in Homer's Odyssey; and Jean-François Lyotard's clever deployment of Cage against Adorno's championing of Arnold Schönberg in the former's short statement, “Several Silences.” Precisely in multiplying silences, Lyotard brings out the cacophony that attends silence as a discursive or disciplinary object, whether musicological or philosophical. Moreover, the chapter asks: Are all these nonsilences the same, and if not, what do they sound like? Or, just as important, how do these differences bear on what sound sounds like a provocation to thinking?

Keywords:   silence, John Cage, Franz Kafka, Adorno, Horkheimer, Odyssey, Lyotard, Several Silences

California Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.