Sinister Resonance – The Mediumship Of The Listener – Temporarily out of Stock

David Toop


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  • Continuum Books / Bloomsbury
  • 2011
  • ISBN 9781441155870
  • Paperback
  • 21.6 × 14 × 2 cm

Sinister Resonance begins with the premise that sound is a haunting, a ghost, a presence whose location is ambiguous and whose existence is transitory. The intangibility of sound is uncanny – a phenomenal presence in the head, at its point of source and all around. The close listener is like a medium who draws out substance from that which is not entirely there.The history of listening must be constructed from the narratives of myth and fiction, ’silent‘ arts such as painting, the resonance of architecture, auditory artefacts and nature. In such contexts, sound often functions as a metaphor for mystical revelation, forbidden desires, formlessness, the unknown, and the unconscious. As if reading a map of hitherto unexplored territory, Sinister Resonance deciphers sounds and silences buried within the ghostly horrors of Arthur Machen, Shirley Jackson, Charles Dickens, M.R. James and Edgar Allen Poe, Dutch genre painting from Rembrandt to Vermeer, artists as diverse as Francis Bacon and Juan Muñoz, and the writing of many modernist authors including Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett, and James Joyce.

“It’s as if contemporary culture has developed a case of hyperacusis in the form of Toop’s ‚perpetual vigilance‘ as he haunts the permeable boundary between the extremities of sound and the fullness of silence. Ruminating on its unmatched power of evocation, Toop manifests sound after transient sound from the pages of this ’silent art‘, increasing awareness of our own auditory acuity as the walls between inner and outer space collapse around our ears.“ – David Sylvian

„This is not just a book about the uncanny history of sound, but about the hidden affinities between eras and art forms. The patterns it divines make Sinister Resonance something like a sonically minded companion to Marina Warner’s Phantasmagoria, on the haunted nature of photography and cinema.“ – The Wire