Category Archives: hauntology

“One can look at seeing but one can’t hear hearing” –Duchamp

I want to read Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener.

”Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener” (2010) by David Toop
[] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Back in 2007, I attended[1] a lecture by David Toop. The title was Ways of Hearing.

In 2010, this lecture crystallized as the book Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener.

On the cover is a detail of «Soplones», nº 48 of Goya series Los Caprichos.

It is a book about listening, the way sound is portrayed in painting and other “silent arts”, about arts that involve sound, about the resonance of architecture, about auditory artefacts and about self-reflexivity.

Michaelangelo Matos called it “an exploration of sound in novels, poems, and paintings from before the era of sound reproduction.”

Threaded through the book is Marcel Duchamp’s observation “One can look at seeing but one can’t hear hearing” and his concept of the infrathin, those human experiences so fugitive that they exist only in the imaginative absences of perception.

David Toop is always interesting, he introduced me to the eavesdropper paintings by 17th century Dutch painter Nicolaes Maes and the concept of silence in painting.

A certain Guilherme Werneck has made a pinterest board consisting of a “visual guide” to Sinister Resonance.

Toop’s magnum opus is Ocean of Sound.

See also my current research on medium specificity.

Hauntology and Burial Mixes


“What a Mistry ” Tikiman

Hauntology is a concept in nascent state (to borrow a term from Francesco Alberoni). That’s why it is still flexible. Any good music with the word “burial” in it deserves to linked with the concept. Not including Basic Channel‘s Burial Mixes has been an oversight. I just set that straight. (within 15 minutes from time of posting, check Google)

Some background info on Basic Channel and its reggae releases labeled Burial Mix. If Wackies Records is the natural heir to Lee Perry (the same laid-back percussion, flying cymbals en relaxed groove), then the Burial Mix releases are the natural heirs to Wackies. There, we’ve just connected the 1970s to the 2000s

Some obliquely related burial imagery:

Tomb of Pompeii by Jean-Baptiste Tierce, 1766

Tomb of Pompeii by Jean-Baptiste Tierce, 1766

Cenotaph for Newton (1784) by French architect Étienne-Louis Boullée

Cenotaph for Newton (1784) by French architect Étienne-Louis Boullée

I wasn’t going to write about this

A moment of silence…

I wasn’t going to write about this, but then John from Uncertain Times posted the picture shown to the left, possibly the most haunting photo since this one. It is so easy to get caught up in the rhetorics of the Situationist spectacle when discussing 9/11, that one tends to forget these “little” tragedies, such as the man jumping on the photo, whose last two seconds of life are worth a novel in itself. 9/11, that titanical and hyperreal event, has shaped us all and I really feel sorry for all concerned. But we will never be forgiven if – at the same time – we do not think about thousands dying every day of famine.

See also:

9/11: The Falling Man

Hauntology’s preoccupation with the aesthetics of death in a post-9/11 world

Both Sam Shackleton‘s “Hypno Angel”[1] and Kode9 and Spaceape‘s “9 Samurai”[2] feature references to Chopin‘s Funeral March[3]. The first quite literally at 3:12 in the track, the latter throughout the recording.

Both tracks are in the dubstep genre, dubstep is related to hauntology. Both these two recording exemplify hauntology’s preoccupation with the aesthetics of death in a post-9/11 world. Musical hauntologists are advised to read the music sections in the as of yet untranslated French book Principles of an aesthetics of death, with its references to the “Funereal” outings of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin (“Funeral March“) and Schubert (Death and the Maiden [4]).

In the hauntosphere, Esotika has a post on hauntology and John Maus.[5]

Beyond the critical theory babble, “Hypno Angel” and “9 Samurai” are excellent dub music recordings.

The golden age of television


27 years ago today was the day of the first video clip every broadcast on MTV. The clip was “Video Killed the Radio Star,” directed by Russell Mulcahy, and it marked the debut of the channel on 1 August 1981, at 12:10 A.M. The single, a Trevor Horn (Frankie Goes to Hollywood) production, was already two years old, released in September 1979. The song celebrated the golden days of radio, talking of a singer whose career is cut short by television. Group member Trevor Horn has said that his lyrics were inspired by the J.G. Ballard short story The Sound-Sweep, in which the title character, a mute boy vacuuming up stray music in a world without it, comes upon an opera singer hiding in a sewer.

Up until today, MTV remains my favorite television station, along with Arte.

See Golden Age of Television and Ode to MTV and the contemporary grotesque

‘Sumptuary moments’ are revolutionary in themselves

Unidentified gold toilet

This is my third post on Georges Bataille‘s general economy. The first was here[1], the second here[2].

This post consists of a quote by the designer Nic Hughes I believe, author of the blog Haunted Geographies.[3]. Yes. Haunted. As in hauntology.

“In ‘The notion of expenditureGeorges Bataille concentrates on the more destructive expressions of potlatch, specifically ‘non-productive expenditure’- the type of ‘Killing wealth’ only rarely experienced these days. For instance, the KLF’s burning of a million pounds[4] or Ryoei Saito’s cremation[5] of 160 million dollars of fine art. For Bataille, sumptuary moments’ are revolutionary in themselves, purely because they are the antithesis of use. Games, war, spectacle, art, non-reproductive sex, all challenge the tyranny of utility. They ‘represent activities which, at least in primitive circumstances, have no end beyond themselves’ (Bataille, 2004, p118). Later he spins off on a more Nietzschean tact, extending the metaphor to genocide and the destruction of a whole class- the power elite potlatch.” –Nic Hughes at Haunted Geographies [6]


Jan, Joost and our stuffed dog

Me, my brother and our stuffed dog

Reminiscent is one of my favorite adjectives. It says all and so little. To describe something as “reminsicent of” always requires the reader to know the item it reminds one of. Auctorial descriptives belong in the category “reminiscent of.”

This post’s meaning of reminiscent falls in to the category: memoirs. The photo was taken by Janice, the sister of my then-girlfriend Mireille and it portrays me, my brother Joost and our stuffed dog.

My brother and I got the stuffed dog at the auction house we worked at, we were in our very early 20s at the time and we lived in a small apartment in the Bestormingstraat, Antwerp, which we rented for very cheap, about 100 Eur per month. We used to put the dog outside on the window sill of our apartment, people thought it was real dog and sometimes signaled us that we had accidentally forgotten our dog “outside” on our second-floor apartment.

The shoe of a dead woman at the bottom of a cupboard


The Critical Dictionary (French: Dictionnaire critique) was a regular section of the journal Documents. It offered short essays by Georges Bataille and his colleagues on such subjects as “Absolute“, “Eye“, “Factory Chimney”, and “Keaton (Buster)“.

In the entry for aesthete one finds the following sentence:

“When it comes down to it, these words have the power to disturb and to nauseate: after fifteen years, one finds the shoe of a dead woman at the bottom of a cupboard; one throws it in the rubbish bin.” […] The unfortunate who says that art no longer works, because that way one remains disengaged from the ‘dangers of action’, says something deserving of the same attention as the dead woman’s shoe.” (translation by Art in Theory).

Bataille never fails to intrigue me. I must confess – and I always do – that I do not understand one iota of what he means by the image of a dead woman’s shoe in relation to art and aesthetes, but not understanding is a very big part of the attraction. As I stated before, I like my philosophy poetic and incomprehensible.

Unreason vs. reason


Adorable seventies graphic design on the book depicted above.

Of course, the classic illustration of unreason is:

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monstersis a 1799 print by Goya from the Caprichos series. It is the image the sleeping artist surrounded by the winged ghoulies and beasties unleashed by unreason.

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is a 1799 print by Goya from the Caprichos series. It is the image the sleeping artist surrounded by the winged ghoulies and beasties unleashed by unreason.

Unreason on the whole is a subject of innumerable greater interest than reason. As such, I’ll take the counter-enlightenment over the enlightenment any day. Conceded, there were interesting aspects of the enlightenment, ignored by history, such as the enlightenment of Thérèse Philosophe. See Robert Darnton’s The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France.

Introducing Praxis

[FR] [DE] [UK]

It’s actually strange that I’ve never actively come across this band besides of having heard of them. I am a big fan of Bill Laswell and all P-Funkiana, both are canonical to my encyclopedic work. Praxis introduces a whole collective of adventurous culture, from cutting edge music to exciting graphics, rebellious texts and tetsuoesque performances (is the life-size doll by Rammellzee?).


“Animal Behavior” (1992) from the Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) album.

Praxis is the name of an ever-changing Bill Laswell musical project. Praxis combines elements of different musical genres such as funk, jazz, hip-hop and heavy metal into highly improvised music. First appearing in 1992 with the critically acclaimed Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis), Buckethead, Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell and Brain have defined the direction of the band over the last 15 years.

Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) is the first album by Bill Laswell‘s everchanging “supergroupPraxis. This first album features Buckethead on guitar, Bootsy Collins on bass and vocals, Brain on drums, Bernie Worrell on keyboards and DJ AF Next Man Flip on turntables and mixer.

Transmutation features a wide range of musical styles, all mixed together to make a very diverse and unique album. Styles such as heavy metal, funk, hip hop, ambient, jazz and blues are blended together to form a strange style of avant-garde, with extended guitar and keyboard solos, and highly improvised passages.

The artwork is by James Koehnline, photography by Thi-Linh Le and liner notes by Hakim Bey.