Saturday midday, November 14, 12–12:50 CST

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Music and Psychoanalysis Interest Group

Dylan Principi (Princeton University), Chair

This year’s annual gathering will continue the theme of psychoanalysis as method vs. interpretive program. Amy Bauer will share excerpts from her essay, “The Sublime Object of Music Analysis,” which casts a psychoanalytic gaze over several analyses of Schubert’s setting of Heine’s “Der Doppelgänger.” Participants are encouraged to engage these short, suggested readings and to bring their questions to our discussion. A brief business meeting will follow.

Discussion: “The Sublime Object of Music Analysis

Amy Bauer (University of California – Irvine)


Music is a site of dangerous enjoyment beyond the signifier, to be reined in by law, commerce and custom, lest it undermine the social fabric and threaten “the ontological order,” as Mladen Dolar notes. Yet the most effective enforcement of music’s power comes from inside the citadel: from the historical discipline of music theory, ever ready to police the boundaries of what constitutes music and its proper expression. Žižek’s many ruminations on music stress its recurrent role as a bearer of a truth beyond words, an answer of the Real to the Other, seems to wane only in modernity, the moment when, he surmises, that music renounces the endeavor to provoke the answer of the Other.” But modernity also marks that era when of music theory as a prescriptive discipline loses its sway over the art it would control, and shifts mode into a descriptive, analytic register that might ex post facto contain and normalize a work that. disturbs the tenuous sonic order of an era. The strength of hierarchical analytical methodologies such as Schenkerian analysis siphon off the power of those works through an act of translation: the irrational and excessive is justified and bound, plucked from one canon and set within another as a mere exemplar of a rational technique. But what it the very limits of music analysis—the vast differences between the map and its territory—are seen instead as evidence not of its reductive force, but of its extraordinary ability to penetrate the true depth of music in all its uncanny power? Conflicting analyses of Schubert’s “Der Doppelgänger” reveal music theory and analysis as less a limitation on music’s fecundity than its retroactive cause. The analytic fantasy intended to keep music’s excess at bay instead recreates it in a liminal place, as its uncanny double.