Introduction: (Re)percussions
1 ‘‘Middle passage’’ is a phrase that has emerged in African American cul-
tural and literary criticism to designate the space and time of separation
produced when Africans were, as a result of the slave trade, transported
predominantly from the western coast of Africa to North America. It is
famously figured in Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved (1987, pt. 2, sec. 4),
where even the inscription of English syntax, the very medium of what
Morrison calls ‘‘re-memory,’’ is not spared the ravages of the slave vessel.
2 Throughout this study I will have recourse to a number of terms, per-
haps even concepts, that have acquired a certain philosophical ambiguity.
‘‘Sense’’ is one such term. ‘‘Feeling’’ is another. Even lexicographically,
‘‘sense’’ admits of conflicting senses. It refers, as a noun, to any one of the
five senses, to the faculty of perception, to a perception, to judgment, and
to meaning or import itself. Equal diversity exists in its verbal form. Pre-
cisely because this profusion swarms within a philosophical tendency to
separate meaning from being, I am drawn to the concept. Bypassing the
rationalist quandary posed by the senses, it enables one to link the cultural
production of meaning to the social construction of the subject, thereby
deeply complicating the distinction between the cultural and the social. In
elaborating ‘‘sense’’ in this way, I have found much to ponder in Jean-Luc
Nancy’s chapter on music in The Sense of the World (Nancy 1997, 84–87).
3 New musicology is also referred to as ‘‘critical musicology’’ or even ‘‘popu-
lar musicology.’’ Oddly, what now passes as ‘‘new’’ in the field of musicol-
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