2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Plural Expression: Exploring the place of music in ethics and politics through the work of Emmanuel Levinas and Maurice Blanchot

Daniel Jackson, 2022, Stage 2

The purpose of my project is to engage with the question ‘is there an ethical relation in art?’ as posed by Emmanuel Levinas in Reality and its Shadow. My aim is twofold, first to demonstrate my belief, using Levinas’ ethico-phenomenological framework, that in the performance of improvised music, at least between bandmates, we find an ethical relation consistent with the one that Levinas outlines in his work. Thus, finding Reality and its Shadow to be inconsistent with Levinas’ system.
My second aim is to expand on this inconsistency to critique Levinas’ system more broadly, outside of his framework and using Maurice Blanchot’s notion of community to do so – the aim of this is to further the case for the ethics, or at least ethical potential, of art as well as a more positive role of art within a community. To do this requires making apparent, what I see as, the shortcomings of and stifling nature of Levinas’ ethical theory.

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