James Batcho, PhD


May 9, 2015

BEIJING. The dissertation is nearly done and I am days from submission. I have to get back to work, so I’ll write more soon. But just for fun, below is the final paragraph of the document. Without reading what came before, much of the lexicon might seem odd. But, serious and dour as it may be, I think it stands on its own as well. It is interesting for me to discover in finalizing the final few sentences below that my masters thesis also closed with a similar ethics of openness. I suppose that’s my thing, a cry for the openness of relations. But in 2015 I’m a different thinker, a different writer, than I was in 2004, and although I cannot help but resonate what I’ve always been, this is an entirely different work.

Therefore, in hearing one’s world as oneself, one can only infer what is present within one’s own fragmented past as any event occurs. Yet within such lived relations to memory, this inferential element pushes one forward into the future. Its fluid, temporal matrix grants availability to encounters in a way that has not been pre-determined by discipline, taught in classrooms, or documented as history. We have no way of reproducing it except through mimicking, which is both unnecessary and unwanted [footnote to Plato]. One draws from the inferential matrix in consciousness and gives back to it only through actions of the body, as a creator of the sonic world. A baseball player’s crack of the bat contributes meaning to the hearer who becomes attuned within the event’s unfolding, then finds joy or heartbreak in its resolution. But such actions of the body dis-appear; one cannot systematize the stuff of audibility. The contours of language, a priori to any rational thought, are etched in stone; education and experience produce repeated swipes of graphite; the mind, between the two, is a palimpsest, one whose rewritings trace the stone’s convention at the same time that it offers the opportunity to reevaluate the validity of its etching. Language thereby produces its own means of reflecting upon itself; and the stone tablet, ever so slightly, changes its contours through time. But in the audibility of world-sound, particularly those unseen, any rubbing occurs as random breaths across a windswept notion, if it repeats at all, and it is rare that one attends closely, scrupulously to the imprint enough to be remembered. In our encounters with the audible world, the rendering is faint; sound as meaningful becomes forgotten and no recording technology can bring back the moment—one’s connection to time and place and others within the occurrence. Such things cannot be cast aside as unimportant. They constitute our collective world, our collective being. From this ethical perspective it means that there are vast contributions to knowledge that are lost forever to consciousness and denied a place in history. They fade into belief and thereby become subsumed, re-rendered without attribution into linguistic, musical and visual forms—the verifiable products of global culture. But given the rampant absurdity of attainment, maybe this is is how it should remain. In a world in which every aspect of life is greeted with the eager embrace of capitalism, and any thing is given value only in its capture, perhaps it is best that our hearing remain free.


Winding Down the Diss