Popular opinion portrays modernity’s progress as accompanied by people’s increasing conviction to be independent of gods. We began seeing ourselves as creatures who think, perceive, and act on our own and in accordance with rational precepts. This view was not so much unsettled by Freud’s discovery of the unconscious as it shifted towards the recognition that much of our inner lives was yet to be explored. In more recent times, however, the enlightened West has been indulging in inexplicable phenomena manifesting in our environment. Many feel confirmed in their hope once again that there may be “more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy” after all.
Conspiracy theorists imagine toxins in the contrails of airplanes, wraith-like reminders of the nebulous manipulations of normal people by the mighty. Navy pilots report UFO sightings so consistently that they have been assimilated into the American mainstream via 60 minutes. Beyond these visual and visible phenomena, however, it is once again our hearing that pushes towards the beyond and marginal. Videos that report inexplicable noises began to accumulate on YouTube during the lockdowns of the past months. Sounds coming from the heavens have been fascinating people since ancient times. Our folklore abounds with references to nocturnal sky riders. When the pandemic shut down the streets and cities, it appears that they were heard more often once again.
In his audio essay, the musician François J. Bonnet, director of the Paris Institute for Musical Researches (Ina GRM) , follows the trail of these sounds. Narrated by the Stockholm-based composer Kali Malone, the essay demonstrates that these acousmatic phenomena point to one thing above all: how our hearing is never independent of our environment and how both are always haunted by the imaginary and the irrational.
L’essai audio de François J. Bonnet paraîtra sous forme écrite en français dans un prochain numéro de Spectres, la publication conjointe du GRM et du label Shelter Press. Nous ajouterons le lien dès que le livre sera disponible.