The Phenomenology of the Resonance-Reverberation Doublet

Political Acoustics?

Gaston Bachelard writes in The Poetics of Space:

to go so far and so deep, [we] must go beyond the sentimental resonances with which we receive (more or less richly – whether this richness be within ourselves or within the poem) a work of art. This is where the phenomenological doublet of resonance and repercussions must be sensitized. The resonances are dispersed on the different planes of our life in the world. While the repercussions invite us to give greater depth to our own existence. In the resonance we hear the poem, in the reverberations we speak it, it is our own. The reverberations bring a change of being. It is as though the poet’s being were our being. The multiplicity of resonances then issue from the reverberations unity of being. Or, to put it more simply, this is an impression that all impassioned poetry-lovers know well: the poem possesses us entirely. This grip that poetry acquires on our very being bears a phenomenological mark that is unmistakable. The exuberance and depth of a poem are always phenomena of the resonance-reverberation doublet. it is as though the poem, through its exuberance, awakened new depths in us. In order to ascertain the psychological action of a poem, we should therefore have to follow the two perspectives of phenomenological analysis, towards the outpourings of the mind and towards the profundities of the soul.

Needless to say, the reverberation, in spite of its derivative name, has a simple phenomenological nature in the domain of poetic imagination. For it involves bringing about a veritable awakening of poetic creation, even in the soul of the reader, through the reverberations of a single poetic image. By its novelty, a poetic image sets in motion the entire linguistic mechanism. The poetic image places us at the origin of the speaking being.

Through this reverberation, by going _immediately_ beyond all psychology or psychoanalysis, we feel a poetic power rising naively within us. After the original reverberation, we are able to experience resonances, sentimental repercussions, reminders of our past. But the image has touches the depths before it stirs the surface. And this is also true of a simple experience of reading. The image offered us by reading the poem now becomes really our own. it takes root in us. It has been given us by another, but we begin to have the impression that we could have created it, that we should have created it. It becomes a new being in our language, expressing us by making us what it expresses; in other words, it is at once a becoming of expression, and a becoming of our being. Here expression creates being.

This last remark defines the level of the ontology towards which I am working. […]
When I receive a new poetic image, I experience its quality of inter-subjectivity. I know that I am going to repeat it in order to communicate my enthusiasm. When considered in transmission from one soul to another, it becomes evident that a poetic image eludes causality. Doctrines that are timidly causal, such as psychology, or strongly causal, such as psychoanalysis, can hardly determine the ontology of what is poetic. For nothing prepares a poetic image, especially not culture, in the literary sense, and especially not perception, in the psychological sense.

I always come then to the same conclusion: the essential newness of the poetic image poses the problem of the speaking being’s creativeness. Through this creativeness the imagining consciousness proves to be, very simply but very purely, an origin. In a study of the imagination, a phenomenology of the poetic imagination must concentrate on bringing out this quality of origin in various poetic images.

related reference: 2005  Paulo C. Chagas  POLYPHONY AND EMBODIMENT: A CRITICAL APPROACH TO THE THEORY OF  AUTOPOIESIS  TRANS Revista Transcultural de Música, diciembre, número 009  Sociedad de Etnomusicología (SlbE)  Barcelona, España –>

4 thoughts on “The Phenomenology of the Resonance-Reverberation Doublet

  1. Does reverberation in some way have relation to the idea of ‘experience’ in idealism(specifically Michael oakshott’s version of it),and resonance to ‘arrests’ in our experience (which maybe gives resonance a personal flavour?).

    1. the language of this excerpt from bachelard is a bit hard to parse, but i think key is found in the sentence: “In the resonance we hear the poem, in the reverberations we speak it.” the idea here is shared in a lot of communication theory in that there is not such thing as a pure message, all are mediated & the mediation never leaves the message undisturbed; e.g. the child’s game of telephone in which a word or phrase is whispered from ear-to-ear in a circuit through a group of listeners until it arrives back at its originator, who speaks it loudly to the group, who cannot help but giggle as they hear an expression so different from the one they themselves heard and said.

      the resonance of these theories coheres by the 1920s. but the question remains (or so argues JD Peters in Speaking into the Air), why does communication finally become a “problem for thought,” in a way that it was not in the ancient world? no doubt some of the blame lies at the feet of the moderns, namely hegel and spinoza, on whose feet oakeshott and others lay the notion that no idea exists outside of mediation.

      do we see the reverberation of hegel or spinoza in the information science of shannon, weaver, and wiener? perhaps for wiener, who was always the most philosophical of the three. with mcluhan at least, we see the dissolution of the idea of the social body of a species existing separately from the inner life of an organism. the message (and hence, the individual mind) disappears as media become the extension of the human body as a whole.

      suddenly, the poetic model of bachelard seems to make sense only in the baroque harmonies of leibniz. here, the idealist dialectic. husserl’s finds in leibniz (in his cartesian meditations) a case for the “sphere of appurtenance” in which the Monad is the Ego, as if it is itself an idea that possesses its own body. but does not leibniz hold that the monad is the inseparable union of body and soul? citing gabriel tarde, deleuze claims that this shift is a subversion of the whole phenomenological tradition – instead of thinking the dialectic of the self and not-self (or self and other), the ground of the monad is built on a division whose diversity is characterized by movement, elasticity, and plasticity. the monad played like a game of telephone, its existence mutating as it moves, stretches, and reshapes.

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