Veit Erlmann - Reason and Resonance
Hearing has traditionally been understood as the second sense — less rational and modern than seeing, the master of all senses, the first sense. Reason and Resonance is the first full-length study to explode this myth by reconstructing the history of aurality and the process through which the ear assumed a central role in modern culture and rationality. From the beginning of the seventeenth century to the early decades of the twentieth, scientists believed that resonance was the operative mechanism of the human ear. To comprehend the act of hearing was to recognize the existence of a sympathetic resonance between vibrating air and various parts of the inner ear. But resonance, by extension, also entailed adjacency, sympathy, and the collapse of the boundary between perceiver and perceived — phenomena usually thought of as polar opposites of reason. As Veit Erlmann argues, however, with the emergence of resonance as the centerpiece of modern aurality, a new type of epistemology triumphed, one involving an intimate and complex relation between reason and resonance.