Merleau-Ponty og grammofonen

I forbindelse med Mads Walther-Hansens PhD-forsvar i går, der jeg var formann for bedømmelsesutvalget, har jeg blant annet repetert deler av Maurice Merleau-Pontys Phénomènologie de la perception (fra 1945). Walther-Hansens avhandlig her “The Perception of Sounds in Phonographic Space,” og Merleau-Ponty er en av teoretikerne han bruker. Muligens litt idiosynkratisk ble jeg fanget inn i jakten på gramofoner i Merleau-Pontys bok, og fant to (hvis det finnes andre vil jeg bli glad for å høre det). Den ene siterte jeg under forsvaret i går. Der beskriver Merleau-Ponty et visuelt rom, og det opptrer en grammofonspiller i naborommet. Her er sitatet (fra den engelske oversettelsen):

“When we reach the limits of the visual field, we do not pass from vision to non-vision: the gramophone playing in the next room, and not expressly seen by me, still counts in my visual field. Conversely, what we see is always in certain respects not seen: there must be hidden sides of things, and things ‘behind us’, if there is to be a ‘front’ of things, and things ‘in from of’ us, in short, perception.” (s. 323)

Det jeg synes er interessant i dette sitatet er hvordan lyden av grammofonen tilsynelatende ikke rykker Merleau-Ponty ut fra diskusjonen av et visuelt rom til fordel for et auditivt rom. Jeg tror absolutt Merleau-Ponty kan anvendes til diskusjoner av lytting og det auditive, men synes likevel det er en visuell bias i mye av det han skriver.

Det andre sitatet er mye lengre, og jeg er fortsatt ikke ferdig med å tenke på det. Her opptrer det både grammofoner, radio, og telefoner, det er stemmer og schizofrene, engler og elektrisitet. Med andre ord, mye å tenke på.

“Hallucination causes the real to disintegrate before our eyes, and puts a quasi-reality in its place, and in both these respects this phenomenon brings us back to the pre-logical bases of our knowledge and confirms what has been said about the thing and the world. The all-important point is that the patients, most of the time, discriminate between their hallucinations and their perceptions. Schizophrenics who experience tactile hallucinations of pricking or of an ‘electric current’ jump when they feel an injection of ethyl chloride or a real electric shock: ‘That time’, they say to the doctor, ‘you were the cause of it, because you are going to operate’. Another schizophrenic, who said he could see a man standing in the garden under his window, and pointed to the spot, giving a description of the man’s clothes and general bearing, was astonished when someone was actually placed in the garden at the spot in question, wearing the same clothes and in the same posture. He looked carefully, and exclaimed: ‘Yes, there is someone there, but it’s somebody else’. He would not admit to there being two men in the garden. A patient who has never entertained any doubts whatsoever about the voices which she hears, listens to similar ones played to her on the gramophone, interrupts her work, raises her head without turning round, and sees a white angel appear, as it does every time she hears her voices, but she does not count this experience among the day’s ‘voices’: for this time it is not the same thing, but a ‘direct’ voice, perhaps the doctor’s. An old woman afflicted with senile dementia, who complains of finding powder in her bed, is startled to find in reality a thin layer of toilet powder there: ‘What is this? she asks, ‘this powder is damp, the other is dry’. The subject who, in delirium tremens, takes the doctor’s hand to be a guinea pig, is immediately aware of the fact when a real guinea pig is placed in his other hand. The fact that patients so often say that someone is talking to them by telephone or radio, is to be taken precisely as expressing the morbid world is artificial, and that it lacks something needed to become ‘reality’. The voices are uncouth voices, or else voices ‘of people pretending to be uncouth’, or it may be a young man imitating an old man’s voice, or ‘as if a German were trying to talk Yiddish’. ‘It is as when a person says something to someone, but without getting as far as uttering any sound’. Do not such admissions put an end to all argument about hallucination? Since the hallucination is not a sensory content, there seems nothing for it but to regard it as a judgement, an interpretation or a belief. But although these patients do not believe in their hallucinations in the sense in which one believes in perceived objects, an intellectualist theory of hallucination is equally impossible. Alain quotes Montaigne’s words on madmen ‘who believe they see what they do not really see’. But in fact the insane do not believe they see, or, when questioned, they correct their statements on this point. A hallucination is not a judgement or a rash belief, for the same reasons which prevent it from being a sensory content: the judgement or the belief could consist only in positing the hallucination as true, and this is precisely what the patients do not do. At the level of judgement they distinguish hallucination from perception, and in any case argue against their hallucinations: rats cannot come out of the mouth and go back into the stomach. A doctor who hears voices climbs into a boat and rows towards the open sea to convince himself that no one is really talking to him. When the hallucinatory attack supervenes, the rat and the voices are still there.” (s. 389ff)

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