Interruption—Intervention: On the interval between literature and music in Jean Luc Nancy’s “Myth Interrupted”
Keywords:deconstruction, performativity, music theory, politics, mimesis
This paper focuses on the role of mimesis and more specifically, the role of musical performance in creating communities by examining the oscillations between muthos and logos that inform contemporary thinking around community and institutions.
The starting point is Jean-Luc Nancy’s (1991) intervention—or interruption— into the totalitarian or “immanentist” tendency of myth, a tendency that is especially at play in European modernity’s image of itself as a myth-less community as well as in contemporary or “(new) fascism” (Lawtoo 2019). For Nancy, the notion of myth must not be rejected but “interrupted,” so that “there is a voice of community articulated in the interruption, and even out of the interruption itself” (1991). What replaces myth in his account is “literature” a notion that arguably informs the contemporary movement of performance philosophy (Corby 2015).
Why literature and not musical performance? In posing this question, this paper turns back to ancient Greek mousik? as a sonorous performance that interrupts the interruption, giving rise to the interval. Countering the myth of myth, I develop an account of mousik? that mobilizes rhythm, spacing, and iterability to suggest a notion of community that exchanges communion for performative communication, producing an intervened institution interrupted from within: an in— stitution.
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