Date of Award

2018

First Advisor

Christopher Coggins

Second Advisor

Asma Abbas

Abstract

We are swarmed and called by senses and feelings, but modern structures of rational knowledge and efficiency direct us to override our bodies and sensations. By relegating the body in it’s pains and pleasures to thought that manages and quells, we distance ourselves from experience and from collective relation to other beings. If one attempts to radically reimagine and deconstruct the violence of globalized late capitalism through their work or study, are they prone to reproduce the same hegemonic hierarchies embedded in knowledge acquisition, literacy, and empirical research? This issue seems apparent to me in discussions of climate change, for instance, where empiricism regarding CO2 levels is necessitated for our lifestyles to be challenged, as if there has never been a way to live sustainable, non-genocidal, non-ecocidal, lives previously - as if one could not have done so without highly developed methods of research. How are we to fundamentally shift our relations with other beings through changing the current habitus, the set of socio-ecological patterns that promotes a-relationality, individualized work ethic, and emotional repression? If we cannot more fully acknowledge and engage the precarity of our situation with other human and non-human forces, if our emotional experience continues to be relegated to the private realm as a marginal portion of our time and of our externalized-self (occasional therapy appointment, ‘venting’, art projects), how will we ever collectively radicalize? By generally keeping probing “personal” thoughts and feelings packed away, for we only know how to manifest them as transfers of burden, or as temporary distractions from focusing on our labors, are we giving credence to the schism between thought and expression, between study and interpersonal life? The three chapters in this thesis engage this question by way of three interwoven meditations, one on purpose, one on judgement, and the last on listening. Throughout the thesis, my relationship with sound and music-making has had a great impact on my contemplation of sensory immediacy and openness, as opposed to the distant gaze of knowledge and the closed-off sensorium we embody on behalf of rationality. My thesis performance engaged directly with each of these themes through a meditative exhibition of recorded music that I produced during the past academic year.

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