I will edit down V1 in the narrowness of time and blend it into V3… But I have the editor’s ‘good dilemma to have’ dilemma of trying to compress a lot of already dense material.
A couple of comments:
1. Jo has written a line I hadn’t noticed before which has suddenly smacked me in the face, ‘I think most writing arises from superstitious behaviour…’ This might be the best line ever written about the artistic process
2. The original three categories I posited of place, memory and narrative are already becoming enmeshed. Or perhaps the first two are becoming enmeshed and the third is the means by which we express this.
Can I propose two actions for the current draft (must be thinking in binaries tonight):
1. We need some further theoretical research at this stage. Tom, can you direct us to some theory on sound (particularly as it pertains to the three above categories)? Jo, do we research further on place theory or stick with what we’ve got from Carter et al?
2. We start to incorporate sound grabs into the work. As a starting point I will attempt to isolate a very small grab and begin to discuss. I want to examine and compare the three stages of the process: the performance recording, the fx and the soundscaping.
Writing as arising from superstition is something I started thinking about some years ago when someone I had a based a minor character on in my novel got his geography mixed up and ended up in my backyard one dark (but not stormy) night. I’ll never know whether he was trying to break in, or just trying to find his way out, but what ensued was a battering on the exterior doors and walls of my house aided by the mop he’d picked up near my back steps, which he was wielding like a flame torch. Having a deadline to complete the novel draft, I was compelled to keep writing in the ensuing weeks at the only time I was able to: late at night and in semi panic at the thought of my guest making another appearance. The draft got done, but it was a 6 week or so sojourn in which I realized just how much I hated writing, and engaged in all sorts of ‘superstitious’ behaviour to get me through. The novel was soon subverted by a more experimental kind of writing, to eventually become a spoken word piece, meditating, more or less, on superstition. As writers we operate in liminal territory, not really knowing what we are doing. We ascribe meanings to things in the dark, which is a form of superstition. I’ll rope Zizek in here because he says he hates writing (intensely) and because he says in Conversations with Zizek (with reference to Stephen King’s Shining) that writer’s block is not the true horror, rather, it is the opposite: the compulsion to keep on writing. Zizek’s solution is to trick himself into writing by never telling himself he is writing but just putting down some observations that lead on to other things… he says his “whole economy of writing is in fact based upon an obsessional ritual to avoid the actual act of writing” (2004, p. 42). I think that such tricks are a kind of superstitious behavior, but it’s a playful superstition, trying to reinvent itself without – even if it’s haunted by – ideas of god.
In answer to your question, Patrick, I think situationist writing, which I’ve already touched on needs to come in. And what about Tim Bonyhady? And your mate, Simon Schama? It might be a good idea to (if asking specific questions of each other) to send an email notification?
Update on 12/8/2016 Sue Woolfe considers superstition as a part of writers’ behaviour in the context of creativivity and writers’ processes. She concludes: “It’s perhaps unfortunate that these phrases [of writers trying to describe their creative process]so closely resemble accounts of religious epiphany. But I like to think that the Mexican farmer falling back in amazement at the voices speaking to him from the field is hearing not the voice of some obscure Catholic martyr, but the characters of the next great Latin American novel, rising out of the cornfields to greet him” (
In considering Patrick’s three categories – place, memory, narrative – I would agree that “the first two are becoming enmeshed and the third is the means by which we express this” (25/4). The references below, as requested, are also divided into these two (neat yet not exclusive) categories for the same reason. They are collected from my film studies and specific research for the Lyrebird project, that is, the radioplay ‘Under the Forest’ and the sonic poem ‘Ladyswamp’. What I see is that my interest in ‘sound to service narrative’ is mostly understood through the art of film making. This also contrasts with my interest in non-narrative sound and music. The binary of narrative/non-narrative continues to absorb my interest and was applied to the sound design and music composition for the Lyrebird project. Furthermore, ‘sound in film’ theory held me in good stead for the work of ‘narrative sound’ in the Lyrebird project where clearly a proffered visual is not just absent, but unneccessary. Or, the visual is only to be discovered in the imaginary of the listener.
My understanding of ‘narrative’ based on these film studies, is that narrative is not the story, but rather, how the story is put together. This helps me, as the definition of the term ‘narrative’ seems to vary according to the different arts (writing, film, music etc). We can therefore see that there are – linear, episodic, circular, hidden, unresolved, etc narratives, regardless of what the story is doing. As mentioned elsewhere , I have come to hear that music might well be the only form that can truly express the non-narrative. But this idea strays from our task of ‘sound to service narrative’. What is of interest to me, and briefly discussed in (TK 5/4), are the categories of place – of the diegesis: diegetic, non-diegetic and meta-diegetic. An example of meta-diegetic sound might be, sound imagined, or perhaps, hallucinated by a character (Milicevic). In Audio Research Article v1, Patrick identifies that the radioplay text is essentially a meta-narrative, where the story of the child lost to the forest is distorted and internalised by the memory of the narrators. Here there is a dialogue between the non-diegetic and the meta-narrative. I remind the reader that the sonic place from which the radioplay narrators speak is that of the non-diegetic; it is not a sound imagined or hallucinated, but intended as a sound that is completely outside the experience of the radioplay, to create as much distance as possible ( a Brechtian alienation even), to allow the text enough space to realise its meta-narrative quality, to become the elusive – ‘sound of memory’.
I have been contemplating Carter’s powerful statement, that Josephine reminded us of (3/4), which is, “to sound a space is to denominate it a place: it is to mark it as an historical event.” Focusing on the first part of this statement has led me to some curious questions. Is sound the only real way, the best way, to denominate a place? Is any place that has an absence of sound essentially placeless? Even in our suspicion that we do not hear sound, as in imaginary spaces, are we in fact ‘hearing things’ (in a subcoinscious way), thereby allowing that place to be denominated? I have more questions, but will try for some answers before profering them, and hopefully be reformed by responses.
A list of references, useful to me on ‘theory of sound’. Patrick, I hope this suffices.
Beck, Alan E., Listening to Radio Plays: fictional landscapes, http://cec.sonus.ca/econtact/5_3/beck_listening.html
Carter, Paul 2004, Material Thinking: The Theory and Practice of Creative Research, Melbourne University Publishing
Carter, Paul 2009, Dark Writing, University of Hawaii Press
Carter, Paul 2010, The Road to Botany Bay: An Exploration of Landscape and History, Uni of Minnesota Press
Dunn, David 2001, Nature, Sound Art and the Sacred, http://www.davidddunn.com/~david/writings/terrnova.pdf
Soundscape, The Journal of Acoustic Ecology, World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, http://wfae.proscenia.net/journal/index.html
Toop, David 2010, Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener, Continuum International Publishing Group
Altman, Rick 1992, Sound Theory, Sound Practice, Routledge, New York
Balazs, Bela 1884-1949, Theory of the Film: Sound, https://soma.sbcc.edu/Users/DaVega/FILMST_113/FILMST_113_0ld/GENERALTHEORY/Soundtheory_Balzacs.pdf>
Brophy, Phillip 1989, Film Narrative / Narrative Film / Music Narrative / Narrative Music, http://www.philipbrophy.com/projects/rstff/FilmNarrativeMusic_S.html
Milicevic, Mladen Film Sound Beyond Reality: Subjective Sound in Narrative Cinema, http://filmsound.org/articles/beyond.htm
Sonnenschein, David 2001, Sound design: the expressive power of music, voice, and sound effects in cinema, Michael Wiese Productions, Studio City
Spande, Robert 1996, The Three Regimes: A Theory of Film Music, <http://www.robertspande.com/19037.html>
Truppin, Andrea 1992, And Then There Was Sound: The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky, in Sound Theory, Sound Practice, Altman, Rick (ed) http://filmsound.org/owesvensson/truppin.htm