Reading Response 2 – Seven Metaphors for (Music) Listening: Dramatic

In his essay, Seven Metaphors for (Music) Listening: Dramatic, Joshua Banks Mailman endeavors to analyze humanity’s various modes of listening through metaphor. Creating a taxonomy of seven metaphoric “natures”, Mailman describes his conception of lateral extrapolation as the closest means by which to accurately convey musical/sonic understanding. Rather than view metaphor as counter-rhetorical and illegitimate (Plato’s conception of pure thought as the only inherent subjective “truth”) and subscribe to the mind as a mirror axiom, Mailman points to contemporary philosophical theories that subvert this “notion of knowledge as accuracy of representation.” In essence, Mailman points to works problematizing the very concept of true representation, using physical phenomena (cephalopod camouflage) to demonstrate his point that a singular version of “truth” is nonexistent, and should be viewed as more of an abstraction than a tangible touchstone.

Mailman, after his assessment of the utility of metaphor, moves on to discuss his categories for the various modes of listening: Listening as Recording, Adaptation, Improvisation, Computing, Digestion, Meditation, and Transport. He discusses varying shortcomings and strengths of each approach, explaining their contextual relevance and use in aiding our understanding of noise and listening as a whole (and the relationship between them!). I enjoyed his employment of the well-explained concept of metaphor in order to more abstractly, and therefore more accurately, present contrasting but complementary perspectives.

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