To be listening is thus to enter into tension and to be on the lookout for a relation to self: not, it should be emphasized, a relationship to “me” (the supposedly given subject), or to the “self” of the other (the speaker, the musician, also supposedly given, with his subjectivity), but to the relationship in self, so to speak, as it forms a “self” or a “to itself” in general, and if something like that ever does reach the end of its formation. Consequently, listening is passing over to the register of presence to self, it being understood that the “self” is precisely nothing available (substantial or subsistent) to which one can be “present”, but precisely the resonance of a return. For this reason, listening—the opening stretched toward the register of the sonorous, then to its musical amplification and composition—can and must appear to us not as a metaphor for access to self, but as the reality of this access, a reality consequently indissociably “mine” and “other”, “singular” and “plural”, as much as it is “material” and “spiritual” and “signifying” and “a-signifying”.
This presence is thus not the position of a being-present: it is precisely not that. It is presence in the sense of an “in the presence of” that, itself, is not an “in view of” or a “vis-a-vis”. It is an “in the presence of” that does not let itself be objectified or projected outward. That is why it is first of all presence in the sense of a present that is not a being (at least not in the intransitive, stable, consistent sense of the word), but rather a coming and passing, an extending and a penetrating. Sound essentially comes and expands, or is deferred and transferred. Its present is thus not the instant of philosophico-scientific time either, the point of no dimension, the strict negativity in which that mathematical time has always consisted. But sonorous time takes place immediately according to a completely different dimension, which is not that of simple succession (corollary of the negative instant). It is present in waves on a swell, not in a point on a line; it is time that opens up, that is hollowed out, that is enlarged or ramified, that envelops or separates, that becomes or is turned into a loop, that stretches out or contacts, and so on.
The sonorous present is the result of space-time: it spreads through space, or rather it opens a space that it is its own, the very spreading out of its resonance, its expansion and its reverberation. This space is immediately omni-dimensional and transversate through all spaces: the expansion of sound through obstacles, its property of penetration and ubiquity, has always been noted.
Sound has no hidden face, it is all in front, in back, and outside inside, inside-out in relation to the most general logic of presence as appearing, as phenomenally or as manifestation, and thus as the visible face of a presence subsisting in self. Something theoretical and intentional scheme tuned to optics vacillates around it. To listen is to enter that spatiality by which, at the same time, I am penetrated, for it opens up in me as well as around me, and from me as well as toward me: it opens me inside me as well as outside, and it is through such a double, quadruple, or sextuple opening that a “self” can take place. To be listening is to be at the same time outside and inside, to be open from without and from within, hence from one to the other and from one in the other. Listening thus forms the perceptible singularity that bears in the most ostensive way the perceptible or the sensitive (aesthetic) condition as such: the sharing of an inside/outside, division and participation, de-connection and contagion. “Here, time becomes space” …
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