AUDIO AND ETHICS | A CALL TO LISTEN TO ONE ANOTHER
The Goodness Of Audio Content
In Music and Ethics, Nanette Nielsen and Marcel Cobussen explain, “the search for universal and eternal Good seems to have been unsuccessful. There is no generally acknowledged agreement on what the Good is” (Nielsen & Cobussen, 2012, p. 16).
This brief paper focuses on some of the calls to listen found in audio content, philosophy, sharing, and technology. It is important to make clear that an authoritative consensus on the goodness of audio content, remains unestablished. With our devices we have instant access to the opportunity to be responsive to a call to listen to one another in the 21st century. When passive or active listeners engage with audio content we encounter many ethical traditions found in philosophy. An idea worthy exploring at a later date is the benefits of global unconditional listening.
Thinking about how the above concepts add to our social, technological, and philosophical discussion Nanette and Marcel share, “Belonging together always also means being able to listen to one another. Ethics begins with the ability and willingness to listen and listen unconditionally” (Nielsen & Cobussen, 2012, p. 34).
The shared experiences associated with audio content demands a willingness to listen. Nanette and Marcel share, “Music invites and entices us to listen; it compels us to listen to others and otherness — to the unfamiliarity of certain sound worlds, to the unheard sounds of our environment, to non-discursive meaning or the sonorous elements with meaningful utterance and so on — and it thereby simultaneously evokes a feeling of responsibility, of duty” (Nielsen & Cobussen, 2012, p. 59). In this context Nanette and Marcel’s description of how sound entices and provokes a sense of duty from the listener offers imperative insight to the ethical undertones that can be found in audio content not just music and the technology we use to listen.
Music compels us to listen
Audio content like music compels us to listen, this response is only limited by our perception of the illusion of silence. Even in perceived silence the sounds permeating in our world never stop. Audio content can have many affects on the exchange between our ethical ideas for impaired unethical ideas. These encounters can be identified in the day to day conduct of listeners.
Later in their book they share, “Because music’s affective and emotional character is able to introduce distortions that corrupt understanding and responsible action, it should be treated with great care and only by those who are educated and good, a section of the population from which musicians themselves, in Plato’s ideal society, were usually excluded” (Nielsen & Cobussen, 2012, p. 92).
Through shared experiences of listening we face the uncertainties of personal conduct and shared experiences. If the new messages are persuasive then our best response is determined in hindsight. We will continue to use technology to experience an increase in receptiveness to the ideas that occupy this spacetime. Surely audio content can introduce fresh ways of perceiving our experience. Intellectual curiosity can be tremendously influential.
Nanette and Marcel look to the writing of German Philosopher Gernot Böhme to further frame the exchange between us and the audio content we consume. Böhme writes, “Music forms and informs das Sichbenfinden, the listener’s sense of self in space; it reaches directly into his or her corporeal economy” (Nielsen & Cobussen, 2012, pg. 102). This perspective identifies audio contents phenomenological roots. For the scope of this brief paper the exchanges between audio content, flesh, and bone can be understood in the context of improvisation. There is an ever present level of uncertainty that comes with future events. Our ability to rise up and prepare for daily encounters comes with many limitations.
Our Mind Body Encounter
Our mind bodies encounter experience of our world mentally and physically. Physical experiences can impact the mind negatively or positively. Inversely, aural experiences are both mental and physical and always manifest some degree of response through out our bodies.
Potential abnormalities in conduct and emotion that audio content can encourage provides insight on a more nefarious context for audio content. Nanette and Marcel share, “A less innocent example can be found in the American High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), a scientific and technological project aimed at future warfare in the ionosphere” they continue, “This ecological warfare is aimed at damaging the (living) environment or the aural preconditions of life, and makes it clear that corporeal being-in-the-world always has a sonic component” (Nielsen & Cobussen, 2012, pg. 102).
Sound and Technology
From our perspective the ethical tensions that audio content and technology engages through inter-personal relationships become more clear. Sound and technology can be used to inflict serious physical and emotional pleasure or pain. Recognizing the ecological and psychological effects and demands from audio content is fascinating.
Audio content producers make ethical choices in the exchange of the stories we share. An ethical challenge remains for us listeners who hear the the audio content we share. Audio content is a format that helps shape a call for an ethical creation and consumption of ideas. Ethical responsibility wakes up the compassionate audio content producer. On the internet we virtually are free to do as we please. Here rest the ethical tension. Not to suggest here that audio content producers are responsible for the betterment of civilization. Rather acknowledging the audio content we consume contributes significantly to our daily life.
Nielsen, Nanette and Cobussen, Marcel. Music and Ethics, Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, 2012, 92.