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Philosophy Outside-InA Critique of Academic Reason$
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Christopher Norris

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748684557

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748684557.001.0001

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Inaesthetics and Transitory Ontology

Inaesthetics and Transitory Ontology

The Case of Political Song

Chapter:
(p.150) Chapter 5 Inaesthetics and Transitory Ontology
Source:
Philosophy Outside-In
Author(s):

Christopher Norris

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748684557.003.0006

Here I take political song as the single most challenging (hence most revealing) topic for any ontology of music. Political songs – those with genuine and lasting social impact – are on the one hand maximally context-specific or geared to particular historical occasions while on the other hand capable of somehow maintaining that impact in later, often very different historical circumstances. I address this seeming paradox from a range of perspectives, among them Frank Kermode’s reflections on ‘the classic’ and Derrida’s discussion of speech-act ‘iterability’. Another main source is Alain Badiou’s highly innovative thinking about the relationship between being and event. In particular I cite his idea of ‘transitory ontology’ and his understanding of how great advances – whether in mathematics, science, politics, or the arts – come about through a mode of proleptic or premonitory grasp despite the limits of present-best knowledge or practical realisation. Such are those breakthrough occurrences that mark the advent of a new ontological dispensation and constitute a further stage in the unfolding dialectic of being and event. Political song is of special significance in this context since its elusive ontological status goes along with a strong political charge and a temporal-modal orientation toward the realm of future possibility.

Keywords:   aesthetics, Badiou, being, Derrida, event, music, ontology, politics, song

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