IN THE MIX: An Assemblage of Ideas in The LiteraryMix by Seth Guy


The LiteraryMix is not a narrative. It is a text composed of hundreds of excerpts of fiction which are linked thematically by Sound and the sounds that they describe. The LiteraryMix offers the reader the choice of what to 'read-listen' from a number of sources provided periodically in the text. The reader-listener must therefore be selective; exposed to a wealth of sound sources matched, mixed and remixed: to explore a labyrinthine text from a sonorous perspective.


A PDF version of the LiteraryMix was completed and presented to a small reading group as part of How To Write:Reading Groups at Five Years Gallery, 16/5/2015. It is intended that this PDF version will be revised and published online as a hypertext at a later date. [0]


This essay aims to briefly discuss how the LiteraryMix (LM) came to be made and present some of the ideas contained within the work in relation to contemporary discourses about listening, reading and writing. Before I begin I should impress upon the reader that whilst every attempt has been made to present my findings in a logical order, the reality is that my own listening, reading and writing and my research around these subjects, actually occurred during the production of the LM. I am therefore very grateful for the opportunity that this essay affords to disentangle many of the ideas which inform my work.


Perhaps you are aware that when we read under our breath, we produce the sound of the letters at an inaudible frequency. But the sound is still there. The voice is present, it is never missing. It follows the line just as an instrument follows a sheet of music, and I can assure you it's just as essential as the eyes. It creates a tone, a melody that flows through words and phrases, so that if you add real music at a soft volume, deep inside the ear a harmonic counterpoint is created between one's own voice and the music from the speakers.”

(The Paper House, Dominguez, C. M., from the LiteraryMix, p.180, PDF version, 2015.)


The above quote is taken from a work of fiction but what it describes is now proven by neuroscience. As Marcela Perrone-Bertolotti et al., explains in “How Silent Is Silent Reading? Intracerebal Evidence for Top-Down Activation of Temporal Voice Areas During Reading”: 'silent reading often involves an imagery speech component: we can hear our own 'inner voice' pronouncing words mentally...reading spontaneously elicits auditory processing...[and that]...written words produce a vivid auditory experience almost effortlessly.' [1] However they also understand that this is not an automatic process but occurs only when readers are attentive, engaged with what they read and that they listen to their inner voice.


At the age of ten or eleven I had began to listen to tapes on car journeys by using a walkman. Around this time an older cousin of mine had introduced me to rave music by way of a mixtape. It was my first experience of a DJ mix [2] and what I remember of this first experience is being in awe of the fluid continuousness of what I heard [3]; that what was recorded on the tape seemingly had neither beginning nor end, and that the music contained in an hour-long cassette suggested to me not something definitive and fixed but almost the reverse, as if the duration of the cassette was the only limitation. My interest was piqued further as I heard different versions of the material on other tapes, samples of the same music I'd heard on tapes before: not just new juxtapositions but the material, the Sound, manipulated differently, remixed, and this altered how I listened and how I felt. Later, books along with Sound (particularly mixes) would accompany me on all my journeys, adding another immersive layer to what might otherwise be repetitive commuting, I would later understand that I was collaging fragments of what I saw, read and heard with that of my inner voice.


The idea of constructing the LM came shortly after presenting Observing Silence (OS) at Five Years in 2010 [4]. Reflecting on the popularity of the OS blog I wanted to make new work in a similar vein but rather than create another compendium I wanted to add a certain degree of performativity, to bring readers closer to the activity of listening selectively. I felt that the experience of hearing the inner voice in OS was transformative: that by isolating silences one 'departs' from an experience of silence toward an experience of listening. In addition to the silences in texts I was collecting for OS I also had been noting descriptions of sounds and noises. In the LM I wanted to explore this departing further, toward an experience of active listening through silent reading, to create a 'headspace' for reading and listening, similar to that of performing. As Ross Brown describes:


This is not an immersion in sound but in my sonic self. I am listening, but the location of the sound I am hearing is in here. Or maybe it is an argument between here and there (my centre-stage here in my head; the actor’s centre-stage there). The argument resonates, reverberates and echoes within these walls and the conventions and noises of this room, but the auditorium is mine, is me.”

(Brown, 2013, 96) [5]


In evaluating how I felt about OS, and in turn thinking about my own experience of reading and listening, I was aware that this headspace I sought wasn't simply a case of subjective introspection, but that the space exterior to the sounds I heard and the texts I selected and read was important too. I believe this is achieved through a mixture of being aware that Sound has an identity of its own beyond what one can comprehend or hear in the mix, and that however divorced from something tangible the sounds one hears might appear at the point of audition, they can't altogether be divorced from what I read and how I felt in a certain place and time, as though new meanings are written into the text through listening. This is essentially the 'argument that resonates'. It was also clear to me that movement too played a significant role in this experience: my bodily movement from place to place, not dissimilar to my progression through a text (or might we say my passage?), paralleled in the transient quality of Sound and in mixes, all contributed to an experience which impressed upon me something I should reflect in a new body of work:


What is special about this nothing is how I get there, and what I make of the experience of reading every time I return. Every time haunted or charged by the past, every time informed by the new: a progression of moments of awareness amassed into each now with all it’s load of then’s.

To read and read again. To recognise and discover more, until I realise how immediate and how singular each reading experience is. Like when I travel back to a landscape known and surprising at once, thrilled at the thought of returning and concerned at the thought of finding myself a stranger in what once was familiar. To read again consolidates a sense of being there as I write.”

(Cascella, 2012, 69) [6]


Through the course of reading and seeking texts which approximated this experience I discovered authors of the French 'new novels', or Nouveau Roman [7]. Much of what I read I found to be both inspiring and hugely influential. Readers familiar with this oeuvre will most probably note a similarity between the LM and the style and content of works by Michel Butor [8] which are created from the material of data. For example, his novel Mobile (1962) presents the reader with a continual and repetitive flow of data as fragments of speech, statistics, quotation and observations which are narrated by moving from town to town and from state to state crisscrossing back and forth across America. However, in discussing both the exterior space and interior space engendered by listening and reading, it is primarily the style of works of one of his contemporaries, Claude Simon which I wish to briefly discuss here.


Claude Simon (CS) described his works as 'more and more based on my life and require very little fiction' (Simon, 1992.) [9], and yet his novels persist as carefully constructed (albeit idiosyncratic) fictions nonetheless. His writing is thematically and stylistically highly original and displays clear influences from the writings of Marcel Proust and William Faulkner using self-consciously long sentences and frequent fractured internal analepses in his narratives. These flashbacks present the reader with an interior perspective of the progress of time and history mediated by memory perception and lived experience. Reading CS becomes an activity which places the reader within (or we might say close to) this interiority and representation of recall. This 'realist' representation of recall that CS writes in a continuous mode [10] means that the reader is continually moving and located very much in the present recall of the past. The reader is presented with a myriad succession of images, impressions, thoughts, and emotions all bound to one another. Reading CS work prompts the reader to consider their own position and authorship of their own flow of consciousness when privy to CS narrator:


...indifferent to the green September countryside that fled past on each side of the road, as if the sky, the fields, and the trees didn't exist, were totally without reality, so that her own words and herself...seemed (as in a film whose sound track is badly synchronised with the movement of the images, the characters speaking either before or after their mouths, as if alongside their mouths, acting alongside their bodies), somehow to share in this same unreality, probably because the characteristic property of reality is to seem unreal, incoherent to us, since it presents itself as a perpetual challenge to logic, to common sense, at least as we have grown accustomed to see them predominate in books - because of the way in which words are arranged, the graphic or sonorous symbols of things, of sentiments, of excessive passions -, so that of course it sometimes happens that we ask which of these two realities is the real one.” (Simon, 1960, 84) [11]


This typically long (albeit, for the sake of quotation heavily truncated) sentence I believe to be both a representation and a strategy synonymous with this representation of perception designed to bind [12] the reader to the procession of thought which locates one in a precarious present. This precarity in reading was something that I was keen to replicate somehow in the LM. If I were to present descriptions of sound thematically in such a way that the absence of a unifying and solid narrative would be a strength, of little importance to the reader, they would be bound instead to a procession of sonorous images, performed and unified by the reader's inner voice, which would engender a kind of fluid listening. As John Sturrock reflects:


'...the human individual and the world are both in process, that they are irredeemably subject to transience or molecular exchange. In his novels Simon holds fast to his sense of the instability of matter to the point where he is led to undermine the fictitious stability which the order of a work of art imposes on the flux of experience.' (Sturrock, 1969, 44) [13]


Obviously there is in this 'flux of experience' of reading CS continuous narratives a direct comparison with the transience of sound and the transformative now of listening that I identified in OS. It occurred to me that a mix could also be understood as an almost direct translation of this narrative mode. Duration of recorded mixes vary, but it is not uncommon for DJ mixes to bleed into one another creating a continuous mix which can last for hours, days. In fact, a mix could theoretically continue indefinitely. Radio provides a good example of this. Many radio stations run fully automated with pre-recorded mixes interspersed with live broadcasts during normal working hours. Where perhaps this analogy breaks down is that CS continuous narrative constantly evolves (rather than revolves?) formed of a complex flow of codes and signs which are played out anew. However, audio technologies such as those employed to make generative music can achieve this too One such example would be Jem Finer's Longplayer, which began playing at midnight on the 31st December 1999, and which will continue to play without repetition for a thousand years [14]. This composition like CS continuous narrative mode locates the listener spatio-temporally and continually in the present, ears wide open. As John Sturrock writes in his introduction to The French New Novel this is 'the phenomenological reduction or "epoche?"...instead of being wholly absorbed within the punctual "now" the consciousness becomes aware that this point is the "now", and that it is related to other past "nows", that time is an indivisible flux, and a duration'.

(Sturrock, 1969, 25) [15]


It's worth mentioning at this point that when I began the LM I had first thought of it being a book, a physical object. In the course of editing the work it occurred to me however that this would create some limitations to how the work would be read, navigated and discussed, that it would to some extent undermine the parallels with listening that I hoped to make. Where both generative music and CS text's evolve over time, the LM's content re-confined to the pages of a book would dissolve the indeterminacy of the illusion of choice, remain static.[16] I thought too that one of OS's strengths was that readers from a variety of different locations discovered, through degrees of chance, texts divorced from their physical forms listed on a website. These were often accessed remotely rather than directly through internet searches [17] cached examples on other sites, and translations in different languages on different servers. Like Seth Price, I recognised that “collective experience is now based on simultaneous private experiences” (Price, 2002) [18] mostly made online and that publishing in this way not only reached a potentially larger audience but also encouraged further discourse surrounding listening and reading. What interested me about this was that if in the absence of a book I presented the LM as a hypertext [19], by moving from one virtual location to another without a physical presence to guide the reader, I might at the very least make its size and duration ambiguous, indeterminate, an illusion similar to that of continual flux, and that this might sometimes locate readers to both the sonorous events the text described and to their times and locations somewhere else:


Here, what speaks in the name of the image “sometimes” still speaks of the world, “sometimes” introduces us into the indeterminate realm of fascination, “sometimes” gives us the power to use things in their absence and through fiction, thus keeps us within a horizon rich in meaning, “sometimes” makes us slip into the place where things are perhaps present, but in their image, and where the image is the moment of passivity, having no value either significative or affective, being the passion of indifference.” (Blanchot, 1955, 426) [20]


I'd found with OS that presenting a series of fragmented texts could work if framed a certain way, but at the time of beginning to edit the LM my sources of appropriated material were limited. I was aware that if I were to embark on editing a text of this kind that I would need to read more around the context. Therefore in addition to writers of the New Novel I also read as much experimental fiction that I could find. This led me to discover examples of ergodic literature [21], most notably B. S. Johnson's The Unfortunates, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski and Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch. Reading these texts also later reminded me of the Choose Your Own Adventure and Fighting Fantasy game books popular in the Eighties which encouraged readers to choose different routes through a narrative to reach a goal. Despite the huge differences in content and purpose between these books, what these texts share are an illusion of choice in which much of the text is to some extent superfluous to the narrative. What binds the reader to these narratives however is not so much the goal but the pleasure derived from reading and the enjoyment of this illusion. I was aware then that the texts I selected, and the edits I made in the LM - which are analogous to the reader's choosing – and the choices offered would consistently need to entertain in addition to maintaining this illusion if I was to engender interested listening:


To be with the one I love and to think of something else: this is how I have my best ideas, how I best invent what is necessary to my work. Likewise for the text: it produces, in me, the best pleasure if it manages to make itself heard indirectly; if, reading it, I am led to look up often, to listen to something else. ” (Barthes, 1973, 24) [22]


Furthermore, given the ambiguity between the 'trivial and non-trivial effort' of reading cited by Aarseth, could one say perhaps that there's a parallel here in the difference between hearing and listening, whether one has either an active or passive participation with sound? Might one not also say that this participation by the reader or listener for that matter is to some extent casual and arbitrary, despite the 'effort' involved? I hoped that by using fragments of texts from different sources that these parallels I'd identified would be evident in the work and create a discourse into not only what one reads but how they do so. Encouraging exploration of the text by mirroring that of my own exploratory reading, thereby making the reader an active participant appeared to also be a means to open a discussion:


"A possibility: that of making an accomplice of the reader, a travelling companion. Simultaneanise him, provided that the reading will abolish reader's time and substitute author's time. Thus the reader would be able to become a co-participant and co-sufferer of the experience through which the novelist is passing, at the same moment and in the same form. All artistic tricks are of no use in obtaining it: the only thing worth anything is the material in gestation, the experiential immediacy (transmitted through words, of course, but the least aesthetic words possible; this is where we get the 'comic' novel, anticlimaxes, irony, so many other directional arrows pointing towards the other thing)." (Cortázar, 1963, introduction) [23]


I therefore aimed to provide the reader with several possible departures from as many of the texts throughout, to point to the 'other' and to encourage the reader-listener to explore. To assist me in this process I created a map of sorts, one that would change dramatically in size and complexity over the course of constructing the LM, which enabled me to visualise which texts I'd used, where I had made edits, and what departures were possible. I numbered each of the texts I collected and edited, and made a summary of each on index cards which I then organised into loose thematic groupings, such as the type of location sounds occurred in, or the content they described, such as RURAL, VOICE, INSIDE etc. When I used these texts, I would then use the index card on the map, illustrating to which other texts these could be linked, and what edits in future might be possible departures:





Detail of an initial map of the LiteraryMix, 2010.





Detail of a map used to construct the LiteraryMix, in my studio at Goldsmiths, 2011.





Detail from a map of the LiteraryMix, 2015.



As the LM developed, these departures would vary in content from sounds explicitly mentioned in the text, to different locations or sources suggested through descriptions of the current location, characters or objects. Trimming the lengths of texts, editing at which points the texts began, ended, or in some cases were truncated, allowed for some manipulation of how these texts could be mixed together. Ultimately it was a case of finding texts that could be more readily matched in terms of their content. For example, a text describing a stormy coastal scene (sea, rocks, wind, rain, thunder), can be edited in such a way as to include certain features which supports the text that precedes it, (such as two characters conversing about the sound of a distant storm). However, I found it must also include features which supports the texts that follows for greater continuity and binding, for example the sounds of a ship in a storm or a change in tone in the conversation between the two characters. By utilising these shifts in narrative modes and narrative voice, and using additional sounds suggested in the texts one could effectively create a continuity between separate texts and an engagement with these events as a single image:


To experience an event as image is not to free oneself of that event, to dissociate oneself from it...but neither is it to engage oneself with it through a free decision: it is to let oneself be taken by it, to go from the region of the real, where we hold ourselves at a distance from things the better to use them, to that other region where distance holds us, this distance which is now unliving, unavailable depth, an inappreciable remoteness become in some sense the sovereign and last power of things.” (Blanchot, 1955, 424) [24]


Maintaining this continuity and the sense of pleasure whilst reading was the most time-consuming factor when editing the LM. Finding texts in which such matches could be made was sometimes very difficult, especially when the ideal scenario was finding not just one but several texts to provide the reader-listener with options that fit the content and maintained the image.

Despite these constrictions, this methodology did allow for some creative play, such as adding brief detours from a text's content through an underlying theme, shifting perspective with a dramatic cut, or adding humorous twists through a play on words – all of which are not dissimilar to those employed in a DJ mix such as scratching, looping, adding effects and sampling:


Basically, you go to the root of memory, and it's all about interaction with found documents - look at how you acquire language. You mirror the environment around you. That's what sampling does - it's a process of recall that changes memory as you recall it. Think of James Joyce or William S. Burroughs as turntablists and you get the same result - the turntable is a permutation machine. Look at the root word of "phono-graph" and it's basically "writing with sound - phono (sound) - graph (writing), the rest is just pushing many elements together in unexpected ways. It's the basic vocabulary of the 20th and 21st centuries." - DJ Spooky [citation needed]' [25]

(source - http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sampling)


My efforts in sampling texts for OS and in addition editing them for the LM are part of a sustained interrogation to investigate sound in text. In recent years, sonic theorists and artists have widened their scope to examine noise and silence in other media in an effort to extend, if not break with, assumptions and preconceptions of so-called 'sound art'. [26] These efforts of mine, are at least, in part directed toward thinking about the sonorous from a visual perspective and vice versa. This is very much a speculative approach which occupies a space somewhere between image and event, meaning, memory and imagination. I aim to some extent to liberate the visual from a static position and the aural from its transient presence in space and question how this is mediated through our own experience and understanding of technology. As David Toop writes of music:


Why can’t it stay still for examination, in the same way that we can ruminate over a passage in a book, or freeze-frame a film on DVD? A moment of music may be held in a computer programme in much the same way that a faulty CD stutters when it glitches on one fragment, but though a fragment maybe identified, any intelligible link between the sound of that stutter and the greater whole is a tribute to the human brain rather than music.” (Toop, 2010, 42) [27]



In considering texts which describe sonorous events, I would concede that the author's of these texts aim to confer what they mean rather than a direct transference of experience. However, is it not the reader's imagination and memory, not the writer's, which work to liberate what one reads, and when bound to the analogy of a mix as in the LM, allows the reader to consider texts from an entirely different perspective? Might we consider this more as some sort of aleatory or chance operation [28], or the loose guidelines toward enacting a performance? - one in which readers interpret and perform the text as they read? If there is a plurality of readings, there must also be a plurality of authors and of editors, a plurality of performers and events, which would only be further heightened by presenting the work in a virtual space, accessible at any time and from any location. Here too there is a parallel with certain recording technologies, and the creation of a mix. Rather than necessarily locating those performed events, recording technologies allows one to alter or edit the original in such a way as to make it impossible to determine which the original and the altered duplicate. Location is not one of specifics but rather of plurality as locating oneself is fraught with difficulty because the self and the other may or may not have been transformed in an infinite number of ways and times. Rather than fixed to one interpretation or location all are in a continuous process of flux. Instead of 'fixing' our words, recording technologies (be they recordings of spoken word, of 'performed' readings or writings themselves), create the conditions for plurality, transformation and change, whilst simultaneously objectifying and creating a materiality to that which was (and yet in some way remains?) transient. Daniella Cascella and Salomé Voegelin discuss something similar specifically with reference to writers in ORA 1: Writing, but could one not also apply this to the idea of a reader as an editor too? one who 'performs' the text in such a way that through a process of editing it may be performed anew by new reader's? These "slippery reconstructions" [29] makes evident both the sense of continual movement, editing and adjustment in attempting to locate oneself as a reader-listener, but also both affirm and question the role of reader as writer, as editor, as performer and as listener.


Reading the LiteraryMix brings into focus the reader's inner voice as an auditory process, transforming what they read into a procession of sonorous images. Consisting of fragments of appropriated texts which have been edited, playfully arranged, juxtaposed and mixed together, the LiteraryMix makes analogies with the continual flux of experience with that of editing and recording processes and technologies. The texts which form its content and the thematic links which make up its continuity are complete; its playful arrangement and the illusion of choices aim to be a pleasure to navigate and read. Once published online, readers of the LiteraryMix will be able to access it at any time and from any location and enter into a discourse surrounding reading and listening. These reader-listener's may write, edit, perform and listen to the text. The LiteraryMix is after all an experiment. I've created a text of complexity, something which is also absurd, but most importantly, a work that strongly resonates with Sound and engenders listening through reading.



Seth Guy, April 2016. [30]



NOTES


[0] One possible point of departure: www.sethguy.co.uk


[1] How Silent Is Silent Reading? Intercerebral Evidence for Top-Down Activation of Temporal Voice Areas during Reading, p. 17554/8, Perrone-Bertolotti, Marcela, et al., in The Journal of Neuroscience 32, no. 48, quoted in Silence, Biguenet, John, 2015.


[2] 'A DJ mix or DJ mixset is a sequence of musical tracks typically mixed together to appear as one continuous track. When a DJ mix or DJ mixset is recorded onto some medium, it is often referred to as a mix tape. DJ mixes are usually performed using a DJ mixer and multiple sounds sources, such as turntables, CD players, digital audio players or computer sound cards, sometimes with the addition of samplers and effects units, although it's possible to create one using sound editing software.'

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixset – accessed Apr. 2016


[3] The only brief interruptions to my listening of the music came when at the end of each side the walkman's auto-play function would activate, switching over and playing the reverse side so that sounds exterior to the headphones briefly flooded in creating brief but aleatory samples of a sort which would punctuate the mix. Similar to the moment when the lights come on in a cinema, or that brief pause after a performance before the applause how might we discuss this suspension of subjective and objective engagement, this 'coming out' of one experience before another begins? Or the point at which what one reads becomes imagined, seen, understood?


[4] see: http://sethguy.co.uk/Seth_Guy/Recent_Work/Pages/Observing_Silence.html


[5] The Human Auditorium, p. 96, Brown, Ross, from On Listening, ed. Carlyle/Lane, 2013.


[6] En Abîme: Listening, Reading, Writing, p.69, Cascella, Daniella, 2012


[7] The Nouveau Roman, or new novel is a type of French novel that diverged from classical literary genres. Émile Henriot coined the term in an article in the popular French newspaper Le Monde on May 22, 1957 to describe certain writers who experimented with style in each novel, creating an essentially new style each time.

Alain Robbe-Grillet, an influential theorist as well as writer of the Nouveau Roman, published a series of essays on the nature and future of the novel which were later collected in Pour un Nouveau Roman (1963). Rejecting many of the established features of the novel to date...he put forward a theory of the novel as focused on objects: the ideal nouveau roman would be an individual version and vision of things, subordinating plot and character to the details of the world rather than enlisting the world in their service.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouveau_roman, accessed Apr. 2016.


Interestingly, many of the writers associated with this oeuvre, Butor and Simon among them, have resisted this association and distanced themselves from it.


I cannot deny the influence of Sarraute, Robbe-Grillet, Pinget, Butor, Ollier, on me and my work and I would highly recommend reading anything they've produced. Suffice to say, given this huge influence excerpts from all these writer's, including Simon's, exist in the LiteraryMix.


[8] Michel Butor 'can be described as an experimental writer. His best-known novel, La Modification, for instance, is written entirely in the second person. In his 1967 La critique et l'invention, he famously said that even the most literal quotation is already a kind of parody because of its "trans-contextualization."

For decades now, he has chosen to work in other forms, from essays to poetry to artist's books to unclassifiable works like Mobile. Literature, painting and travel are subjects particularly dear to Butor. Part of the fascination of his writing is the way it combines the rigorous symmetries that led Roland Barthes to praise him as an epitome of structuralism (exemplified, for instance, by the architectural scheme of Passage de Milan or the calendrical structure of L'emploi du temps) with a lyrical sensibility more akin to Baudelaire than to Robbe-Grillet.'

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Butor – accessed Apr. 2016.


[9] http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/2096/the-art-of-fiction-no-128-claude-simon,

accessed Apr. 2016.


[10] Simon's adoption of this continuous narrative mode is far from original, but what is particularly impressive about his use of this narrative mode is the degree to which it is employed. Single sentences may stretch over several pages, even consist of whole chapters (although one can hardly think of Simon writing in chapters per se), and he often links the end of one section to the beginning of another by 'completing' a separate train of thought. This may appear perverse, but in actual fact we encounter this phenomenon in speech frequently for instance when explaining something to someone else and they rather than waiting for us to finish (if we actually ever do finish spoken sentences like we do written sentences) in fact complete the sentence themselves, which whilst not quite how we might have done so it allows the conversation to continue.


[11] L'Herbe/The Grass (1958), Simon, Claude, p. 84, tr. Richard Howard (1960), George Braziller, Inc. New York.


[12] My use of the word 'bind' here is two-fold. Beside the reference to bookbinding; that is the construction of the spine, leaves and cover of a book which holds it together, there is another use of the word which is particularly relevant to my enquiries, that of the 'Binding Problem'. The binding problem is a term used in cognitive neuroscience studies to describe both the segregation and combinatory problems posed in how our brains segregate or combine sensory inputs into single experiences.

Wikipedia has a good summary of these problems and current theory concerning the binding problem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_problem or for extended reading relating to binding audio-visual objects see also: Audio-Visual Objects, Kubovy, Michael and Schutz, Michael, p. 64, European Review of Philosophy, Vol 7: Objects and Sound Perception, eds. Nicolas J. Bullot and Paul Egre, CSLI Publications, 2008.


[13] Claude Simon, The French New Novel, p.44, Sturrock, John, Oxford University Press, 1969.


[14] Every year I visit Trinity Buoy Wharf and listen to Longplayer. What is particularly enchanting about the work for me is that on the surface at least it feels repetitive and unchanging, that I remember what it sounded like from previous visits but that what I am actually hearing is essentially a sample from an entirely new point in the composition. Coupled with the view of the

Thames from the top of the lighthouse in light and weather conditions which too are familiar and yet never the same, Longplayer simultaneously locates me in the past, present and projected future that is both humbling and awe-inspiring, see: http://longplayer.org/what/overview.php


[15] Claude Simon, The French New Novel, P.25, Sturrock, John, Oxford University Press, 1969.


[16] Physical pages, page numbers, an index, to some extent even an introductory note all to some extent would enforce a linearity to the LiteraryMix and effectively undo and undermine much of what I'd attempted to avoid through the editing process. The presentation of the PDF version for example, illustrated these drawbacks quite clearly as I observed participants spent a great deal of time skimming through pages to find the text they were looking for, often randomly selecting texts by mischance, or referring to the index to locate something else.


[17] Should one search Google for “observing silence” my blog appears in the top 10 suggestions.


[18] Dispersion, Price, Seth, 2002, - PDF accessed 15/2/16.


[19] 'Text displayed on a computer display or other electronic devices with references (hyperlinks) to other text which the reader can immediately access. The hypertext pages are interconnected by hyperlinks, typically activated by a mouse click, keypress sequence or by touching the screen.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertext – accessed Apr. 2016.

see also Hypertext Fiction: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertext_fiction


[20] Two Versions of the Imaginary, Blanchot, Maurice, 1955, from The Gaze of Opheus and Other Literary Essays, tr. Lydia Davis, p. 426, The Station Hill Blanchot Reader, ed. George Quasha, 1998.


[21] Ergodic literature is a term coined by Espen J. Aarseth in his book Cybertext—Perspectives on Ergodic Literature, and is derived from the Greek words ergon, meaning "work", and hodos, meaning "path". Aarseth's book contains the most commonly cited definition:


In ergodic literature, nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text. If ergodic literature is to make sense as a concept, there must also be nonergodic literature, where the effort to traverse the text is trivial, with no extranoematic responsibilities placed on the reader except (for example) eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergodic_literature – accessed Apr. 2016.


[22] Écoute / Hearing, Barthes, Roland, 1973, p. 24, from The Pleasure of The Text, tr. Richard Miller, 1975.


[23] Rayuela / Hopscotch, Cortázar, Julio, 1963, introductory note, feat. on p. 329, the LiteraryMix, PDF version, 2015.


[24] Two Versions of the Imaginary, Blanchot, Maurice, 1955, from The Gaze of Opheus and Other Literary Essays, tr. Lydia Davis, p. 424-5, The Station Hill Blanchot Reader, ed. George Quasha, 1998.


[25] Purportedly said by artist Paul D. Miller (with the rather silly pseudonym of DJ Spooky: That Subliminal Kid) although the reader will note it is without citation on the bottom of the WikiQuote page about sampling. Having read (and heard) much of his work, in my opinion it sounds like something he would say, but I've been unable to verify the source or context from which the quote was taken. I think this quote (within a quote) adds another, albeit ironic, layer to the discussion. Quotations are like officiated samples of a sort, but audio samples, if they are ever credited, tend to appear as text in the sleeve-notes accompanying the physical media in which the audio appears. Miller has written extensively on the history and philosophical implications of sampling and phonography. see: http://www.djspooky.com


[26] I am far from alone in this interrogation. Aside from some of the written works from artists and theorists I've quoted in this essay, the reader may be interested in the following contemporary examples:


Tim Etchells and Ant Hampton presented The Quiet Volume as part of the exhibition This Is A Voice at the Wellcome Collection 14/04/16 – 31/07/16.

The Quiet Volume is a whispered, self-generated and ‘automatic’ performance for two visitors at a time, exploiting the particular tension common to any library: a combination of silence and concentration within which different people’s experiences of reading and listening unfold, forging an unlikely path through a pile of books.

see: http://wellcomecollection.org/thisisavoice

and: http://timetchells.com/



Tansy Spinks recently exhibited a number of 'imaginary text scores' for the exhibition In the Mind's Ear at the M2 gallery in Peckham, 13/3/16 until 8/5/16. The press release states:


The audiator/viewer of this exhibition is invited to read and imagine a series of Peckham related sounds that were ‘collected’ by the group on a sound walk led by Tansy Spinks earlier in the year. A series of rubbings taken from shoe soles fills another volume. In addition, aural and oral related excerpts from Muriel Spark’s novel The Ballad of Peckham Rye, 1960 are interspersed to give a sense of the sounds of a site-specific past. Bound as sets of text scores, every open page may prompt a unique aural moment in the mind, a site-specific sound, the experience of which will have a different resonance for each reader who silently ‘performs’ the sounds for themselves.

see also: http://www.crisap.org/people/phd-students/tansy-spinks/


Victoria Karlsson is a sound artist interested in the emotional and subjective aspects of sound and art. Investigating sound as both an inner and outer experience, she explores how we think about, remember, dream about sounds, and how this influences our experiences of sounds in our everyday. She is currently undertaking a PhD Research Degree at University of the Arts, London. Her research investigates sounds in thoughts, asking if we hear sounds in our minds, what they mean to us and where they come from. See: http://victoriakarlsson.co.uk


Closet Music was a project by Janet Oates that ran for three years from 2012-15, to create works of sound and music to be imagined and heard internally rather than performed externally, described as ‘internalised musical activities’. Janet produced two volumes of work: The Closet Music Book (2012), comprising eighteen pieces by thirteen composers, and The Travel Pack (2014), a portable volume of thirty pieces by twenty-three international contributors. The works straddle the disciplines of music, art and literature, depending on how they are presented: some are purely textual, others involve images; all are intended to invoke imagined sounds. An exhibition of these works, which I was fortunate to attend, was held at The Proud Archivist, Shoreditch in Sept. 2015, when soon after I believe sadly the project became defunct.


[27] Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener, Toop, David, p. 42, 2010.


[28] see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleatoric_music


[29] ORA 1: Writing, Cascella, Daniella, c. 54'00", Resonance 104.4FM, 27/06/13.

The time marks I've given in quotation refer to the point in this recording:

ORA1: https://ora2013.wordpress.com/2013/06/ - accessed: 01/03/2016.


Since 2013, Daniella Cascella and Salomé Voegelin have collaborated in making a series of broadcasts on Resonance 104.4FM entitled ORA, a monthly one-hour long debate which focuses on the relationship between listening and writing.

See also: Daniella Cascella: http://www.danielacascella.com/index.htm

and: Salomé Voegelin: http://www.salomevoegelin.net


[30] I gratefully acknowledge the following for their help in developing the LiteraryMix and this essay: The Mother, Stinky and Hannah, Mark Anthony Pearce, Pedro Rocha, Nicholas Brown and Charlotte Elliston, Matt Chilton, Maria Fusco, Sarah Tripp, Francisco Pedraglio, Lindsay Seers, Kate Smith, David Mabb, Jemima Stehli, Benedict Seymour, Stéphane Blumer, Jenna Collins, Rachel Cattle, Edward Dorrian.


Copyright Seth Guy, 2016.

This essay was first published October 2016, as part of How to Read: Writing Groups. How to Write: Reading Groups. Five Years Publications: Public Series No.7, Public Series Edition 2016 (ISBN 978-1-903724-17-0).


This coincided with the inauguration of The LiteraryMix for Part 2 of How to Read: Writing Groups. How to Write: Reading Groups. Publication Launch, Exhibition and Reading Events at Five Years, London, 29 September to 9 October 2016.


More information here.