On Being Touched by Boeremusiek: Listening as Haptic Event

Monday, 31 October, 2022 - 16:00

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Grounded in Aristotle, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Derrida and Peter Sloterdijk’s reflections on the synesthesia of touch, the haptic sense as “corpus,” and the philosophical possibility of the gestation of a bodily apparatus via the ear, this article takes shape around a thought experiment: that musical practices – boeremusiek, in this case – may incubate a particularly tuned ear-body-sensorium with discreet haptic expectations. I pause at an instructive moment in boeremusiek’s reception history: when, in 1948, a certain Mr Spies touches the concertina again for the first time, 52 years after taking a vow of musical abstinence. This moment explicates the “tactile corpus” being incubated in the music’s psychoacoustic sphere, showing how listening – conceived here as a haptic event – might have shaped a Protestant-Cartesian bodily apparatus, a haptic aesthetic awareness, and a concomitant sense of settler belonging and racial embodiment in South Africa.

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