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date: 12 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Bennett Hogg queries the relations that sound recording has commonly been thought to have to memory, in particular mechanistic approaches to both memory and recording that see them as processes that fix things through time. Sound recording has long been plausibly understood as a prosthesis of memory. However, memory goes considerably beyond the recall of stored information. Making sense of memories as they are “laid down,” and as they are “recalled,” involves imagining novel connections between memorized materials and networks of sensory, social, and cultural experience. Imagination, through time, subtly reworks memories, modulating their affect, re-evaluating the significance of particular memories, mythologizing them, even. Memories, through imagination, are not things but actions. Much play has been made on the (imagined) connections between “remembering” and “re-membering” (reassembling that which was dismembered), allowing us to propose imagination as something that re-members memories; endows them with life. To listen to a recording is to participate in an “event,” informed by memory, and partially modeled on it, but informed equally by imagination. To understand listening to recordings according to a rather reductive model of memory risks misrepresenting the richness of the cognitive ecosystem in which listening occurs. In looking for a new metaphor to inhabit this ecosystem of memory, imagination, and persistence through time, Hogg proposes metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls, as a more suggestive model.

Keywords: sound recording, memory, music technology, metempsychosis, metaphor

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