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date: 21 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Why is philosophy captivated by sound and especially by its material existence as timbre? While Western metaphysics has long been fascinated by role of the voice in the construction of subjectivity, consciousness, and the human, deconstruction has turned with surprising frequency to the idea of sound-as-timbre as a way to think beyond paradigms of identity, self-presence, and the present. The article asks what motivates this preoccupation with timbre and what is at stake philosophically and politically in this move, focusing on the bell in Derrida’s Glas as a figure for timbre and for philosophy’s relation to its own outside. Derrida’s argument is contrasted with Jean-Luc Nancy’s notions of timbre and resonance and Agamben’s critique of grammatology.

Keywords: timbre, deconstruction, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Jean Genet, bells, Glas, The Handmaiden

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