- Four Experiments in Broadband Auralneirics
One night, I dreamt my head was 1,000 feet wide. The expansion was executed between the outside edge of each of my eyes and the inside edge of each corresponding ear; the distance between my eyes remained the same, but that between my ears increased greatly.
In the dream, I’m sitting dead center in the Alix Goolden Hall in Toronto listening to a pianist (I can’t say who it is) play Bach’s Goldberg variations, specifically the Aria. The playing is beautiful, perhaps the more so because there is a half second delay between the visible actions of the pianist and the music I am hearing. The delay is unsettling: I feel at once as though I am acutely present and strangely distant. Present, because I’m buzzing with the new configuration of my senses, my eyes scrambling for a purchase that would let them skip the beat that insists on separating them from what I hear. Strangely present, too, because there are weird congruencies of timing when what I’m hearing does seem to line up, a temporal coincidence that isn’t really that surprising given both the world of “continuous multiscalar transition” that we live in (Hansen 2012) and specifically the performance space of the concert hall which (insofar as it acts as a space of inscription) increases the “probability of capturing instances of differential repetition” and therefore also the discovery of coincidences (Hansen 2012).
And yet, there is also a certain self-dissociation that comes with hearing everything in delay: what is experienced temporally as a deferral is also experienced spatially as a gap within myself that is widened by the heightened reflexivity of hearing myself seeing. That is, to the extent that my senses can be categorically differentiated from one another—which is limited, but not altogether nonexistent—the temporally non-coincident experience of watching the pianist play a half second ahead of what I hear is parsed as a temporally continuous experience of bodily non-coincidence: I hear that what I am hearing has somehow lagged behind my vision without ever ceasing to hear and see. My seeing is no less visual for having been heard. [End Page 111]
The delay, then, feels specifically technical, but it is a kind of autonomic technics, a machinic weirdness that therefore I am wherein I am not-technical because I am technical.1 As Steven Connor notes, “it seems less natural to us [humans] to think of listening as tied to or requisitioning characteristic postures” (Connor 2008) so that what is audible in the delay is—among other things—precisely the machinations of perception, the “‘originary’ coupling of the human and the technical” (Hansen 2006, 9) that grounds experience as such and that “can only be known through its effects” (Hansen 2006, 9). Thus, this feels weird not because it isn’t natural and not even because this technical element is explicitly sensible, but rather because the ongoing-ness of this coupling—the ‘coactivity’ of the mutual inclusion—is somehow both conscious and nonconscious. That is, this autonomic technics teaches me that conscious and nonconscious thinking are not experientially opposed to one another.
Importantly, then, the strangeness of the experience persists even as I close my eyes (and thereby disintegrate the categorical sensory dissociation); when synchronization is no longer even a sensible question, its ludic contrivance remains. That is, in closing my eyes the “what” of the sensory disjunction—the purported site of the strangeness—is deemphasized in favor of the “how,” and specifically the manner of execution (or ‘style’) that Deleuze calls the “power of the false in that it ‘posits the simultaneity of incompossible presents’ in its instantaneous back-and-forthing between…disparate domains of activity” (Massumi 2014, 25-26). In short, the weirdness isn’t simply—i.e. categorically—differential but is instead a revalencing of the contrivance—the performative fusing without become confused (Massumi 2014, 34)—of the senses that is mediation, be it that of human/animal bodies or that of technical systems (or both; always both).2 With eyes closed and ears wide, the previously categorical differences of my bodily...