New book by Professor Marcus Boon explores music as vibration

Book opened on white surface

York University Professor of English, Marcus Boon, has authored a new book titled, The Politics of Vibration: Music as a Cosmopolitical Practice, which will be released Aug. 31.

Published by Duke University Press, the book explores music as a material practice of vibration that emerges from a politics of vibration and which constructs a vibrational space of individual and collective transformation.

Focusing on the work of three contemporary musicians – Hindustani classical vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, Swedish drone composer and philosopher Catherine Christer Hennix, and Houston-based hip-hop musician DJ Screw – Boon outlines how music constructs a vibrational space of individual and collective transformation. Contributing to a new interdisciplinary field of vibration studies, he understands vibration as a mathematical and a physical concept, as a religious or ontological force, and as a psychological determinant of subjectivity.

Boon contends that music, as a shaping of vibration, needs to be recognized as a cosmopolitical practice – in the sense introduced by Isabelle Stengers – in which what music is within a society depends on what kinds of access to vibration are permitted, and to whom. This politics of vibration constitutes the hidden ontology of contemporary music because the organization of vibration shapes individual music scenes as well as the ethical choices that participants in these scenes make about how they want to live in the world.

Boon teaches 20th and 21st century literature and cultural theory in the English Department in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and is also cross-appointed to the programs/departments of Social and Political Thought, Visual Arts and Humanities. His research interests include contemporary literature; cultural and critical theory; global/comparative aesthetics; sound, vibration and energy studies; histories of global avant gardes and countercultures; the concept of practice considered philosophically and across disciplines; theories and practices of copying; Buddhism and its relationship to modernity.

He is the author of The Road of Excess: A History of Writers on Drugs (Harvard UP, 2002), In Praise of Copying (Harvard UP, 2010), and co-author, with Timothy Morton and Eric Cazdyn, of Nothing: Three Inquiries in Buddhism (University of Chicago, 2015). He is the co-editor, with Gabriel Levine, of Practice (MIT/Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art series, 2018), and co-editor, with Davis Schneiderman, of The Book of Methods: Writings on the Cut Up by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin (U. Minnesota Press, forthcoming). He also edited America! A Prophecy: The Sparrow Reader (Soft Skull, 2006) and Subduing Demons in America: The Selected Poems of John Giorno (Soft Skull, 2008).

Visit the Duke University Press website for more information on The Politics of Vibration: Music as a Cosmopolitical Practice.