By Allen S. Weiss
Breathless explores early sound recording and the literature that either foreshadowed its invention and used to be contemporaneous with its early years, revealing the large impression of this new expertise on the very origins of Modernism. via shut readings of works through Edgar Allan Poe, Stéphane Mallarmé, Charles Cros, Paul Valéry, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Jules Verne, and Antonin Artaud, Allen S. Weiss indicates how sound recording's uncanny confluence of human and desktop might rework our expectancies of mourning and melancholia, transfiguring our intimate relation to dying. Interdisciplinary, the publication bridges poetry and literature, theology and metaphysics. As Breathless indicates, the symbolic and functional roles of poetry and know-how have been reworked as new sorts of nostalgia and eroticism arose.
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Additional info for Breathless: Sound Recording, Disembodiment, and the Transformation of Lyrical Nostalgia
Thus what Foucault deemed uniquely protomodernist in Flaubert's novel was actually, mutatis mutandis, the key feature of all precedent oral and written cultures! Literature had always been, from its very inception, a function of the "archive," whether memorized or written. It would seem that the momentousness of La tentatwn de Saint-Antoine must be sought elsewhere. I would suggest that it is the mode of address linked to the encyclopedic form, rather than that form itself, which inaugurates a new epistemic moment.
Within this symbolic exchange, the resurrection of the body—of the already dead other, as well as the still living but soon to be dead self—is now to be effected by photographic, cinematic, electroacoustic, and electronic means. This ineluctable form of the symbolic presages the end of worldly accumulation, linear time, and political power. "50 One might add reversibility of voice and of image in the strange effects of the hysteron proteron, that trope of reverse narrative order which will become a key to the forms of experimental modernism (as well as of science fiction, with its perennial theme of time travel).
19 In this passage that also, albeit tacitly, accounts for Foucault's own relation to the archive and provides the sources of his epistemologically radical imagination, he describes how the terrifying phantasmagoria haunting Flaubert's Saint Anthony stemmed not from the author's imagination of possible representations of the saint's imagination but from the books and etchings discovered by Flaubert and reassembled in a prototypical literary montage. "20 This praise of erudition proffers the major elements of modernism—montage, citation, reproduction, seriality —revealing their new structural position at the beginning of the age of mechanical and electrical reproduction, and offering their disruptive powers as a prolegomenon to all future epistemology.