Re-Listening to Derrida and Benjamin



News on the publication of Two Plays for the Stage was announced on the Performance Philosophy website during 2021 but only received my attention this year, when I ordered a copy of the book out of curiosity. After reading it and making copious notes, I contacted the two authors to give them my impressions, particularly those concerning my responses to it in terms of sound. The trigger for this ReView came from an email discussion with John Schad on critical-creative writing, which I interpret as creative criticism, meaning that this could take any form appropriate to the artist’s discipline. Indeed my essay in an earlier edition of the journal (Wilkins, 2016) took the form of a labyrinthine script during its writing process, this as a response to Freddie Rokem's initial article (Rokem, 2015). It later manifested itself in an audio piece presented in Vol. 7.1, a collaboration between myself and Leona Jones entitled With W/Ringing Ears. (Jones, Wilkins, 2022). Fred Dalmasso’s research into the syncope (2017), which surfaces within the concluding essay to the book, has interested me for some time in terms of its possible parallels in the world of sound.

In this current contribution I present a parallel sound-world that was spontaneously invoked during my reading of Derrida | Benjamin.  I refer to key phrases / quotes that became pointers for triggering the sonic responses that follow. This is by no means an attempt to suggest audio for any future production of the plays, rather a series of independent sonic ideas that spring from the writings of John Schad and Fred Dalmasso.

Author Biography

Caroline Wilkins

Independent Composer/Performer/Researcher Dr. Caroline Wilkins completed a practice-based PhD in Sound Theatre at Brunel University, W. London in 2012. She has presented at international conferences including ARTECH, Guimares, IFTR World Congress (Munich), Sibelius Academy (Helsinki) (2010) & Caen University (2011). Publications online and in journals include Perspectives of New Music (2013), MusikTexte, Contemporary Music Review, Leonardo Music Journal (2003), Studies in Musical Theatre / International Journal of the Performing Arts & Digital Media (2012/13 Intellect Books), and a chapter in the book Gestures of Music Theater (2014, O.U.P). Future publications include From Process to Progress: Completion?  (2017) in ‘New Music Theatre – work in/and progress’, Studies in Musical Theatre, Intellect (guest editor David Roesner, LMU Munich). Most recently she presented at the Second Symposium on Embodied Cognition, Acting and Performance, AISB-2015, University of Kent, and at the Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group, TaPRA, University of Worcester, September 2015.



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Badiou, Alain. [2008] 2009. Pocket Pantheon. Translated by David Macey. London: Verso.

Benjamin, Walter. 2002. The Arcades Project. Translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Benjamin, Walter. [1929] 1996–2003. “Children’s Literature” in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, 2.1 vols, eds. Howard Eiland and

Michael W Jennings, and Gary Smith, pp. 250–256. London: Harvard University Press.

Benjamin, Walter. [1932] 2014. “Much Ado About Kasper”, in Radio Benjamin, edited by Lecia Rosenthal, translated by Jonathan Lutes et al. London: Verso.

Dalmasso, Fred, Véronique Dalmasso, and Stephanie Jamet, eds. 2017. La syncope dans la performance et les arts visuels: Syncope in Performing and Visual Arts. Paris: Le Manuscrit.

Diderot, Denis. [1796, 1830] 1966. Rameau’s Nephew / D’Alembert’s Dream, translated by J. Barzun and R. H. Bowen. London: Penguin.

Ferrante, Elena. 1992. Troubling Love. Translated by Anna Goldstein. Rome: Europa Editions.

Ficino, Marsilio. 2001. Platonic Theology, 6 vols. Translated by Michael J. B. Allen. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Goebbels, Heiner. 1998. Max Black, music theatre. Accessed April 29, 2022.;;

Janecek, Gerald. 1996. Zaum: The Transrational Poetry of Russian Futurism, San Diego: San Diego State University Press, Accessed March 21, 2023.

Jones, Leona, and Caroline Wilkins. 2022. “With W/Ringing Ears.” In Performance Philosophy 7(2): 149–156.

Martone, Mario, and Elena Ferrante. 1995. L’Amore Molesto, film. Lucky Red (2004. Italy, DVD). Accessed April 29, 2022.;

Rokem, Freddie. 2015. “The Processes of Eavesdropping: Where Tragedy, Comedy and Philosophy Converge.” Performance Philosophy 1: 109–118.

Von Trier, Lars, 2022. Accessed April 29, 2022.

Wilkins, Caroline. 1986. Piece for accordion and phonograph : for solo accordion & gramophone.

Wilkins, Caroline. 1986. Music for mechanical instruments : electro-acoustic work.

Wilkins, Caroline. 1999. Mecanica natura : radiophonic work.

Wilkins, Caroline. 2016. “The Panacousticon: By way of echo to Freddie Rokem.” Performance Philosophy 2(1): 1–18.

Wilkins, Caroline. 2017. “Zaum: Beyond Mind — Beyond Time?” Polysèmes: La Démesure du temps.

Wilkins, Caroline, and Oded Ben-Tal. 2010. Zaum : beyond mind : sound theatre for voice and live/interactive electronics.




How to Cite

“Re-Listening to Derrida and Benjamin”. 2023. Performance Philosophy 8 (1): 111-19.

How to Cite

“Re-Listening to Derrida and Benjamin”. 2023. Performance Philosophy 8 (1): 111-19.