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  • The Song and Silence of the Sirens: Attunement to the ‘Other’ in Law and Music

    Sara Ramshaw

    Chapter from the book: Mandic, D et al. 2023. HEAR.


    Employing Homer’s story of Odysseus and the Sirens, and Kafka’s and Blanchot’s reinterpretations, this text explores ‘attunement’ as an imperfect listening that tunes its ear to the inaudible and unknowable ‘other’; resisting attempts to fully control or make selective our listening, and thereby inviting justice to be done. Compared to Kafka’s law, understood as a relentless and unceasing ‘droning noise’, the origin of which is unlocatable, justice as attunement is read here through a Derridean deconstruction of law and musical improvisation to suggest that, instead of endeavoring to harness and control the sonic like Odysseus did, it should be permitted to sing – ‘throats rising and falling, … breasts lifting, … lips half-parted’ – in the place between song and silence, where listening is always a listening-with.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Ramshaw, S. 2023. The Song and Silence of the Sirens: Attunement to the ‘Other’ in Law and Music. In: Mandic, D et al (eds.), HEAR. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book62.c

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    Published on Feb. 14, 2023