Sounding/listening through the fog

On Kathryn Scanlan and Friederike Mayröcker

Reading the introductions to Kathryn Scanlan’s Aug 9 — Fog and Friederike Mayröcker’s from Embracing the Sparrow-Wall or 1 Schumann-Madness (trans. Jonathan Larson), I find myself charged with an imperative to listen. Mayröcker’s Embracing is a translated radio play, a Hörspiel — which literally means a “listening play.” Scanlan’s Aug 9 — Fog is a translated diary, taken from the voice of an eighty-six-year-old and recapitulated from the author’s subjectivity. Both texts possess polyvocal qualities: Mayröcker places herself and her deceased partner alongside Clara and Robert Schumann, collaging their biographies and speech patterns to form a near-opaque stream of consciousness. In Scanlan’s introduction to Aug 9 — Fog, the author writes that she became the eighty-six-year-old diarist in the process of recapitulation. Both Mayröcker’s devotion to Clara and Robert Schumann’s music and Scanlan’s devotion to the anonymous diarist demonstrate the intimacy a polyvocal text requires from its reader; the authors perform this intimate participation, this listening. A transformation takes effect as Mayröcker listens and relistens to the Schumanns, as Scanlan listens and relistens to the language of the diarist; at the height of their listening, they reach embodiment. While Mayröcker relates to the Schumanns in an embodiment that blurs the line between self and other, Scanlan relates to the diarist through direct embodiment — a first person point-of-view consistent with, and complicating, her source. Listening, then, represents a nonhegemonic alternative to close reading: where the ear bends to the page, to the source, in all its openness. Aug 9 — Fog and Embracing demonstrate the necessity of listening as activated reading: an opportunity to attend to layers of voice, voicing, connection. If one can’t see through the fog, they must listen. 

Rather than present a definition of listening as activated reading at the outset, I will pursue a performative definition. I will perform listening as activated reading by: 

I.          Identifying moments of polyvocality in Aug 9 — Fog and Embracing;
II.         Attending to invocations within each text to understand the sociality performed by the
             translator (e.g., in analyzing Embracing, I will only cite authors already present in 
             Mayröcker’s work); 
III.       and locating the voice of the translator within the respective text (how do they show their

These three steps, mutually enriching, represent the constellating force of listening itself: the possibilities of connection as sound (in this case, sound through translation) moves forward. By attending to connection instead of appropriation, one resists participation in ideologies central to the capitalist mode of production. As theorist George Steiner wrote towards translation as a three-step process of invasion, extraction, and incorporation, he presupposed an exchange value in his source text — a value that would exceed itself upon translation, expropriation into a dominant language. Holding the embodiment realized by Mayröcker and Scanlan against Steiner’s violating movements, I see new potential for a consensual collaboration and connection between author, translator, and reader; through listening, one simply attends to a text. While the eye sees a line for invasion, the ear attends to resonance and dissonance, associative connection. Thus, as this essay progresses, I will provide evidence of Mayröcker and Scanlan’s intimacy — against an invasive appropriation and toward an embodied polyvocality.

My performance of listening as activated reading owes a great debt to Pauline Oliveros’s Deep Listening, a musical philosophy that reaches beyond itself, becoming an environmental ethics. Oliveros — an experimental, queer, feminist composer and thinker — transformed the electronic art music scene of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries through her conceptions of deep listening, ritual, and collaboration. Her oeuvre intersects with the civil rights movement, second-wave feminism, environmental movements, as well as her own lesbian sexual identity. In “Listening for Music Through Community,” Oliveros notes that “deep listening is a matter of perceiving and making sound interactively, in a way that expands beyond the music to include the environment.”[1] Oliveros, in performance of this definition, devised a series of rituals centered around listening, which she explored both publicly and privately through collaborative improvisations. In these explorations, the environment is treated as a collaborator; attention to “total environment” versus “sonic environment” suggests that organic sound both precedes and enriches her performances.[2] Oliveros, who received her first tape deck at the age of twenty-one, devoted her life to an intimate sound-based engagement with her environment. Of her practice, she notes, “when you go out into nature, sound is all around you and that immersion brings back a lot of something that’s missing.”[3] What is missing? One of Oliveros’s major qualms with musicology — with media — still persists: “What has happened to detail, to sound, in the transmission of music to the public through media?”[4] There is a lack in media, but an abundance in detail, in sound. Oliveros attends to these particularities. These particularities fill the environment, the soundscape.

Through sustained consideration of Oliveros’s definition of deep listening, I seek in my criticism to perceive literature interactively and in a way that expands beyond the word to include the environment. I seek to engage with the environments of Aug 9 — Fog and Embracing through my own three-step process of listening. I offer this process of identifying, attending, and locating against Steiner’s process of invading, extracting, and incorporating. Such “focused aural attention,” for Oliveros, circumvents the “suppression of certain aspects of intelligence,” resisting the confinement of “directing attention” in favor of “empowering people to use […] attention to grow, and to explore and learn with sound.”[5] Listening suggests an act of collaboration with the texts at hand, while destabilizing the power relations engrained in the literary — and sociopolitical — landscape. Finally, and most crucially, Oliveros notes that “basic to the idea of collaboration is a rejection of dichotomous thinking and the power relationships that accompany it.”[6] To listen — to collaborate — is to destabilize power. 

The landscape surrounding my experience of Aug 9 — Fog and Embracing — the landscape I must listen to — holds an enmeshment of violences. The landscape is on fire, is fracked, is shirked off as the backdrop for countless systemic injustices. Binary thinking endangers queer and gender-nonconforming bodies and enables abuse against migrants and nonwhite peoples. A housing crisis centers around ever-intensifying and ever-enmeshing realities of climate change, racism, and economic inequality. The coronavirus pandemic acutely threatens those held in migrant detention centers and those who are incarcerated. The relentless murdering of Black bodies on behalf of the state — from its profit-centered carceral system to its profit-centered political system, and the relationship therein — requires a sustained revolutionary movement. As the days go on, these violences root into each other, become harder to rectify. What, then, might listening offer? Deep listening, as proffered by Oliveros, and through its consideration of sound in all its permutations, yields integration instead of separation, mutuality instead of binary. Listening is inherently collaborative; to listen presupposes a source of sound. By performing my definition of listening as activated reading, I hope to foreground how the connections proffered by Scanlan, Mayröcker, and Larson yield social literatures, deliberately populated to push against solipsism. I hope to foreground how Scanlan, Mayröcker, and Larson attend to details of humanity and mundanity that so often become erased by normative forms of media. Listening is active because it requires discernment through an ongoing spatial situation. Instead of the solipsism I see in Steiner’s thinking, and the ideological and embodied violences therein, the polyvocality of Aug 9 — Fog and Embracing suggests a “growing into an environment rather than insisting on reshaping it.”[7]

Polyvocality appears in Aug 9 — Fog in two distinct ways. First, the eighty-six-year-old narrator of the diary populates her recollections with at least a dozen friends and family members and presents their ideas and articulations without punctuation, as if from her own subjectivity. Second, the experience Kathryn Scanlan had while absorbing and recapitulating the diary itself — that of becoming the eighty-six-year-old narrator — presents itself as an enmeshing of subjectivities, no matter how suggestive this experience appears within the book itself. Scanlan’s introduction to Aug 9 — Fog hovers above the text, not unlike fog on a landscape: “The diary has become something like kin — a relation who is also me, myself.”[8] The reader must not forget this assertion of becoming; Scanlan sounds it out before the text as a signal. A kind of metaembodiment, thus, presents itself: the diarist holding her loved ones in her own subjectivity, which catalyzes her writing — and Scanlan, as translator, holding the diarist in her subjectivity until she experiences the most transformative kinship, that of becoming a new form of the diarist, the diary.  

Aug 9 — Fog opens with an absence: “Emma didn’t get home.”[9] While the reader never learns who Emma is, this sentence represents the people that populate the diarist’s perspective (and, necessarily, Scanlan’s perspective). One can imagine, with the few pieces of contextual information available, that Emma’s absence haunted the diarist enough to enter the space of the diary. In full, the first page of the recapitulated diary suggests that the diarist’s perspective is deeply informed by the well-being of her loved ones. She writes, through Scanlan:

Happy New Year. Brr. Brr. Brr.
Alvira a cold. Harold sleep. Few
snow flakes in eve. Emma didn’t get

Other absences are present in this entry, too: “Few / snow flakes.” The space between each word — each of a vital monosyllabic push forth — suggests anticipation for the absence’s resolve, refilling. The diarist, through Scanlan, is deeply observational; the closest possibility of interiority resides in her assertions about her loved ones. How does the diarist feel, for example, about Alvira having a cold? How does she feel about Harold sleeping? There is tenderness in each word’s reutterance through Scanlan; her form, catalyzed by embodiment, banishes any notion of ambivalence. Surrounded by white space, Emma’s absence haunts the reader; Scanlan deftly prepares the reader for themes of affinity and mortality through this voicing. 

While Emma reappears on page 17, a character named D. seems to be closest to the diarist. Other people come and go: Ruth, Lee, and Maude, to name a few. When D. celebrates an anniversary with a man named Vern, the diarist writes:

D. frying chicken. Ice on bird bath.
D. & Vern’s anniversary, they got
each other beautiful sweaters. This
grand day        my feet tingle.[10]

The expression of tingling feet represents the height of the diarist’s interiority. Paired with praise of the day as grand, the reader can intuit the diarist’s joy; she writes of tingling legs, again in celebration, on page 30. Emotion, often suggested but never outright, is expressed through the diarist’s body. It seems, with the minimal information available, that the diarist participated in D. and Vern’s anniversary. Is the diarist a widow? Or, are other people are present at the anniversary yet remain unnamed? D. and the diarist are loyal to each other, sharing space by painting and washing together, visiting the cemetery together, and driving together. Most of their visits to the cemetery read as general; the reader doesn’t know whom they intend to grieve, or if they are simply preparing for their own mortality. There are often flowers.

The diarist’s voice depends upon her loved ones; every clear assertion of feeling is in response to another person’s well-being. The diarist, still, often turns to art, describing her works with humility: “Tried to paint but too dark.”[11] She observes nature with unusual precision, perhaps for her paintings; her observations are made uncanny by Scanlan’s translation: “Terrible windy   everything loose / is traveling.”[12] Such observational moments create a landscape for her loved ones to move through, and for her to feel with. As Aug 9 — Fog progresses, several of the diarist’s loved ones die; most harrowing is Vern’s death. The diarist stays close to D. and Vern throughout his demise, offering stark observation regarding his state: “Vern sweat bad. D. restless. I slept better. We were in a mess.”[13] When Vern eventually passes away after a bout of fevers and vomiting, the diarist writes: “My pep has left me.”[14] This narrative — of Vern’s demise and the diarist’s proximity to D. and Vern — seems central to Scanlan’s translation. Curiously, the diarist’s relation to D. is never solidified or clarified; at times, one may wonder if they are best friends, siblings, or if the diarist is D.’s mother. This unsettledness — a kind of “everything loose,” to use Scanlan’s recapitulation — yields the text’s polyvocality. Without clear boundaries between writer and character, diarist and companion, translator and diarist, the text collates and abbreviates experiences, distilling life and death towards an ultimate expression of unsettledness: “Sun shining then rainy but clearing.”[15

That phrase — Sun shining then rainy but clearing — also shows Scanlan’s hand. Here, in this clearing of space, clearing of narrative, and clearing of form, Scanlan gently suggests her embodiment of the diary itself. Whatever remained in the actual diary, that artifact of a stranger’s life, the diarist’s impressionistic portrayal of the natural persists enough for Scanlan to wield it in conclusion — or, rather, against conclusion. There is an ongoing-ness to the “clearing.” The very word creates an image of a space emptied out, not unlike the opening of Aug 9 — Fog: “Emma didn’t get home.” Here, however, the “clearing” is personal; the reader is left alone with the diarist-cum-Scanlan. Is the “clearing” a representation of the diarist’s own death? Is the “clearing” some other form of vision, a visionary moment? The unanswered question is the white space, a hushing of the book’s voices. 

The final three pages bear documenting:

I.          On page 108, we see: “Little sun.”
II.         On page 109, we see: “Sun peeping out awhile.”
III.        On page 110, we see: “Sun shining then rainy but clearing”

The lack of punctuation in the final phrase is essential to the ongoingness of the final page, of the “clearing.” The mundanity of each event gestures out toward the reader, asking: have you seen a “little sun”? Indeed, poet Mary Ruefle notes the mundanity of the text; she writes, in her blurb for Aug 9 — Fog: “people die, and flowers grow.” In the whittled-down generality of Scanlan’s recapitulation, each reader can find connection to their own life. This generality, Ruefle insinuates, represents the self’s significance: that of relatability. Scanlan writes, in her introduction, and of the diarist: “I am her.” She writes: “It still moves me, which seems unbelievable.”[16] It still moves, because the “clearing” suggests new life, new forms of empathy, new voices to listen to. Scanlan makes room for the diarist’s subjectivity within her own.

Aug 9 — Fog is a compact book, a grey fabric cover with bold gold surrounding the title’s text. On the inside cover are blurbs from poets Mary Ruefle — aforementioned — and Vi Khi Nao. In her essay “Literary Fabric,” Nao notes: “I like it when a word bows to another word in a sentence or bows to another paragraph above it or below it. There is something about this kind of literary socialization and connection that is very attractive and fulfilling and elegiac.” The final three pages of Aug 9 — Fog bow to each other, in their fragmentary form, reaching towards “clearing.” The final three pages depend upon each other for the height of the book’s resonance. Scanlan shows herself quickly, here, almost imperceptibly, as one looks into a mirror in passing before moving forward (but where to next?). Nao writes: “How does writing go about doing it: to be less of itself, it gazes half-vainly in the mirror occasionally — but not for too long.” The diarist will die, indeed is probably already dead; the diary, which was falling apart when Scanlan received it, found new form. The “clearing,” thus, signifies both elegy and continuation. 

The image of the clearing, as well as the act of clearing, similarly affects Embracing. All radio plays sound out into silence. The Hörspiel — the listening play — enlivens silence. From this sonic clearing, I listen to Jonathan Larson’s translation of Friederike Mayröcker. In his translator’s note, Larson acknowledges the formal complexities of German-language radio plays. He explains:

It is characteristic for these plays to collage voice overs, polyvocalisms, soundscapes, stereophony, musical interludes and accompaniments, analogue and digital sound effects, i.e. a musique concrete that also includes the voiced text as a compositional element.[17]

So, while the published book occupies a tactile space, it suggests a broader choreographed cacophony. Without an accompanying radio play to listen to, though, the reader is left to imagine the possibilities of Mayröcker’s collaged sound. Larson felt the gravity of his task in translation, charged by the silence of the page: “I’ve endeavored to carry each phrasing with a corresponding density and grain of phrasing so that it might carry Mayröcker’s tune.”[18] Luckily for the reader — especially for a reader such as myself, who is not fluent in German — the translation-facing format of the text suggests a “cloud of sound” looming maximal and formidable. 

As I took notes on Embracing, I listened to Schumann. Mayröcker, obsessed with — or deeply impressed upon by — Robert and Clara Schumann, explored her affinity with these figures through an ambiguous third person plural point-of-view. “We,” she writes: Mayröcker, her deceased partner, and the Schumanns. The orderliness of Schumann’s compositions strikes me as counterintuitive to Mayröcker’s project, which sprawls unapologetically. In particular, the brevity of each movement in Robert Schumann’s Kinderszenen or Kreisleriana (ranging from thirty seconds to a few minutes each) seems contrary to the mountain of text that is Embracing. Mayröcker’s writing possesses a timelessness in its density and urgency; it demands a circling engagement of reading and rereading. With text stretching from left margin to right, and in dense paragraphs, Mayröcker creates a viscous and bristling soundscape. In the breath of Schumann performances, though, I managed to find Mayröcker; a popular recording of pianist Ivan Moravec performing Kinderszenen’s op. 15, no. 7, for example, contains ambient sounds from Moravec and his audience, most importantly the breath of the pianist himself. The breaths, often fast and of necessity, a quick pulling in of life to keep the music forward-moving, echo the pulse of Embracing. The humanity upholding the form. When I listen to these breaths, my own inhalations grow erratic, punctuate my body’s silence.

Larson’s translation begins with a poem, an invocation for the mountain of text that follows. The poem, “FROM EMBRACING THE SPARROW-WALL AMID THE IVY,” suggests the autobiographical. A woman named Silvie sleeps beside the speaker “on that day when HE was buried.”[19] The speaker, afraid to be alone and haunted (“haunted,” she writes, in emphatic italics) by a Schumann composition called “To Silvia,” shares her grief-laden space with a near-namesake of Schumann. Grief blurs the division between real and unreal. Death, as a form of unreality, ushers forth Mayröcker’s polyvocality. Is “HE” Ernst Jandl, the poet’s “heart-and-hand companion”?[20] Here, with Silvie and thinking of “To Silvia,” the speaker is consumed: “So cried so crying so” … the line ends without punctuation. This line, this melancholic counterpoint to Scanlan’s “Sun shining then rainy but clearing,” yields a vision: “The honey drops that / sorrows to me : dark roses of the night.”[21

From the honey drops, the sorrow. From the honey drops, the listening play. On the following page, and without signaling a transition through title, we see: “When 1 person is missing.”[22] Again, and not unlike Scanlan’s opening, absence is foregrounded. We begin with the speaker in this absence, with Mayröcker herself, yet her voice fluctuates in its hyperspecific omniscience, often describing biographical details about Clara and Robert with no explanation of perspective. Mayröcker writes, translated by Larson:

I float for days on end in music, so says Ezra Pound, now I’m doing exceedingly well, enthralled by the composer’s piano-musics from 3 cardinal directions, with my hands, steps (with planted-on gladiolas), blowfish, lanterns, Santa Lucia.[23

When “1” is missing, the speaker floats. Or, Ezra Pound floats. When “1” is missing, the speaker’s voice meets the polyvocal. In this excerpt, ambiguous point-of-view again demonstrates the nuances of voicing, and the limits of subjectivity. Whether the speaker is Mayröcker quoting Pound without punctuation, or Mayröcker invoking Pound through her subjectivity, or literally Pound channeled through Mayröcker-as-medium, an oscillation is signaled by the immediacy of the “now.” Here, at least, the speaker is “exceedingly well, enthralled” — and what a necessary state for polyvocality, that of being enthralled. Schumann has Mayröcker’s attention, and Mayröcker attends to the music with her very body: with hands and with feet. Still, too, she attends to the music with miscellany, thickening the silence into which the Hörspiel flows: blowfish, lanterns, Santa Lucia

Here, too, the natural world possesses great significance. Larson translates: “I’m so involved with flowers, with weeping flowers, so says the pianist.”[24] Clara, as the pianist, creates a channel for Mayröcker’s voice. Or, Mayröcker channels her voice through Clara. Regardless of directionality, the flowers — the superlative involvement with flowers — suggests a near-hypnosis from the speaker, a state where flowers are seen weeping, and piano notes are continuously gestured to. In these suggestions, forms of sound emerge within the reader’s mind. What does a weeping flower sound like? Is the weeping flower a part of the speaker’s interiority, a grief-made-symbol? Moments like this flood Embracing, moments in which perspective is ambiguously multidirectional yet emotionally consistent. While Scanlan’s diarist seems to rely in some capacity on her loved ones for emotionally charged narrative, as sparse and embodied as it may be (e.g., the tingling limbs in direct response to D. and Vern’s anniversary), Mayröcker thrives in a muddier state: the author, deceased partner, and Schumanns together generate, as Larson notes, a cloud of sound. 

Mayröcker doesn’t stop at the Schumanns, though. Where the diarist of Scanlan’s Aug 9 — Fog depicts loved ones, Mayröcker summons enormous theoretical and literary figures like Ezra Pound, Samuel Beckett, and Jacques Derrida into her sonic space. Since Scanlan writes of fog and Mayröcker writes in a cloud, I cannot ignore Derrida’s seminal speech: “What is a ‘Relevant’ Translation?” Fog, after all, eventually rises. Clouds, after all, hover above the horizon. In his speech, Derrida de- and re-constructs the word relever — to perform his translation of The Merchant of Venice from English into French. A literal translation of relever is to raise, to lift up. As a former dancer, I recognize in relever the command to rise onto one’s toes. So, why does Derrida translate “mercy seasons justice” into quand le pardon relève la justice? A literal translation would turn “seasons” into saisons. He writes:

I had proposed the noun relève and the verb relever. This allowed me to retain, joining them in a single word, the double motif of elevation and the replacement that preserves what it denies or destroys.[25]

For Derrida, as the measure of translation, to be relevant is to preserve the meaning of the translative body. Relever enacts a kind of elegy: “a faithful and mournful memory,” hovering above the translated word.[26] Above relève, then, hovers “seasons” — each word assuring the other’s survival. Before turning to this excerpt in depth, I’d like to hold the quote alongside one of Mayröcker’s invocations of Derrida. She writes, at length, and translated by Larson: 

>>hello<< into the phone, that’s what he said, so he answered or he said his full name, sometimes he bent forward with the receiver to the left ear that could hear better than the right 1 (when he introduced himself, answered), indeed his facial features were in liveliest motion while he phoned, >>hello<< the scent of speech, Jacques Derrida — she stood still in the passageway of the Naschmarkt and shouted in her sleeve dream […] upon which the composer spoke, >>where are you?<<, would rather be spirit than flesh […] = cavalcade of a biography, etc.[27]

Mayröcker, not unlike Derrida, deals in double: from left to right ear, from the speaker to the receiver, from one end of the passageway to the other, from spirit to flesh. Dizzied in this collision of dualisms, Derrida’s idea of the “double motif” ultimately finds actualization within Embracing by way of Larson’s translation. 

Larson’s translator’s note foregrounds the spirit of remembering. He signals what was — the sounding of the radio play — and this ghost-sound, this halo-sound, hovers above the text. By outlining every previous iteration of Mayröcker’s work (which was originally titled, for performance, from Embracing the Composer on the Open Sofa), Larson guarantees the survival of the translative body:

Mayröcker performed onstage with her friend and fellow artist Bodo Hell, who intoned echoes and susurrous undertunes to Mayröcker’s reading for their live public sound performances during the summer of 2010 in Vienna. The project was then made into the radio play 1 Schumann-madness […] The piece itself was originally conceived as musical performance.[28]

While there are no discernable performance notes within Larson’s translation, nor within Mayröcker’s translation-facing text, the note of Hell’s role as echo-intoner creates new possibilities for the reader’s experience: are phrases in italics, then, documented echoes? Larson notes that “[Mayröcker’s] text overruns with resonance and reference,”[29] citing the density of form as a necessary extension of the original musical delivery. The “double motif” of Larson’s work — by way of the elevation of the musical performance and the replacement via translation into prose — results in a richly textured and prismatic reading experience, one wherein ever-multiplying voices possess visionary power.  

Both Derrida and Mayröcker are intent on interiorizing and remembering; Derrida insists on “the Christian dimension” of translation, at least in Merchant of Venice.[30] His image of Christ’s Passion, “the resurrection of the ghost or of the glorious body which rises, rises again [se relève] — and walks,” echoes Mayröcker’s project of remembering. This image of the Passion is, perhaps, the ultimate tool to understanding the “translative body.” A word was one thing, and now it is another. A body was one thing, and now it hovers above what replaces it — like a halo. Embracing effectively brings life back to Ersnt Jandl and the Schumanns; Mayröcker, though grieving, summons them back into their own respective livelihoods, so that she might move alongside them. Kathryn Scanlan’s Aug 9 — Fog, too, brings life back to the diarist, so that Scanlan might hold her(self) towards that “sun shining.”

In Aug 9 — Fog and Embracing, the natural world — the sun, the clearing, the honey drops, the weeping flowers — affect interiority, not solipsism. Scanlan, Mayröcker, and Larson collaborate with their environments, find their footing in its scenes. These authors and translators perform Oliveros’s ethics of deep listening through the dynamic link between self and landscape, self and subject, and a polyvocality populating the new landscape of the page. Still, Oliveros notes a risk in writing, the limits of language: 

Active listening is the grasp, the ability to perceive the structure as it’s happening: but not by describing it to yourself, because if in fact that’s what’s happening, you’re missing the sensual aspect of the sound. With some balancing, you can listen actively and have the sensual aspect, simultaneously. But if you add describing, as it’s going, then you have loss.[31]

The presence of emotion in Aug 9 — Fog and Embracing, the moments of speechlessness and overflow, ensure sensuality; the “I” that reaches beyond itself in both of these texts invites a readerly participation, their emotional collaboration. These books remarkably exhibit the “balance” Oliveros suggests, while holding their own losses — of life, of space — within the sensuality. A new kind of literature, a new kind of ethics, thus, emerges from listening. It’s worth noting Oliveros’s diction: to perceive rather than to apprehend. To find footing while out of control.

One could call listening as activated reading “close reading.” For the same reason I resist Steiner’s appropriative approach to translation, though, I resist the potentially violating proximity of “close reading.” Derrida shows, through his punning engagement with the word relever, the multiplicity of meanings embedded within a single word. Scanlan performs her listening to the anonymous diarist in Aug 9 — Fog by reading and rereading until the diary subsumes her. Larson reminds us that his translation is only an approximation of the sound that demands listening within its very name — Hörspiel. These writers, then, all point to the vitality of listening. Indeed, their listening leads to translation in a way my listening won’t. However, Derrida notes that “a summons to translation [exists] at the very threshold of all reading — writing.”[32] This summons, or what I described as a charge in my first sentence, catalyzes an intimacy with the text, a deep listening—one where each word is loved, where the reader bows to the page with their ear, apprehending the breath of the text, the humanity.

1. Pauline Oliveros, “LMJ19 CD Companion: Listening for Music through Community,” Leonardo Music Journal 19 (2009): 100.

2. Denise Von Glahn, Music and the Skillful Listener: American Women Compose the Natural World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), 102.

3. Oliveros, “LMJ19 CD Companion,” 104.

4. Pauline Oliveros and Fred Maus, “A Conversation about Feminism and Music,” Perspectives of New Music 32, no. 2 (1994): 191.

5. Oliveros, “LMJ19 CD Companion,” 180.

6. Von Glahn, 321.

7. Friederike Mayröcker, Embracing the Sparrow-Wall or 1 Schumann-Madness, trans. Jonathan Larson (Atlanta: OOMPH! Press, 2019), 322.

8. Kathryn Scanlan, Aug 9 — Fog (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019), vii.

9. Scanlan, 3.

10. Scanlan, 19.

11. Scanlan, 92.

12. Scanlan, 33.

13. Scanlan, 92.

14. Scanlan, 102.

15. Scanlan, 110.

16. Scanlan, vii.

17. Larson, introduction to Mayröcker, ix.

18. Larson, introduction to Mayröcker, xi.

19. Mayröcker, 2.

20. Larson, introduction to Mayröcker, ix.

21. Mayröcker, 2.

22. Mayröcker, 4.

23. Mayröcker, 4.

24. Mayröcker, 30.

25. Mayröcker, 383.

26. Jacques Derrida, “What Is a ‘Relevant’ Translation?,” trans. Lawrence Venuti, in The Translation Studies Reader, 3rd ed., ed. Lawrence Venuti (London and New York: Routledge, 2012), 385.

27. Mayröcker, 10, 12.

28. Larson, introduction to Mayröcker, x–xi.

29. Larson, introduction to Mayröcker, xi.

30. Derrida, 385.

31. Oliveros, “Conversation about Feminism and Music,” 182.

32. Derrida, “What Is a ‘Relevant’ Translation?,” 366.