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Fugue states : music, dissociation, and ethical implications

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Fugue states : music, dissociation, and ethical implications

Harris, Lee Mark (2001) Fugue states : music, dissociation, and ethical implications. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The relation between the phenomenology of the fugue and the field of ethical behaviour was of central concern to the creative career of Glenn Gould, explored using a terminology of ecstasy, morality, and technology. This thesis attempts to further pursue the issue by moderating a conversation between dissociation theory, drawn from the cognitive sciences, and a discourse on dialogic transaction, derived from various literary and philosophical sources. Investigation of the fugal experience requires specification of the ritual context deemed to facilitate it, as well the fugue's salient structural properties. Under a regime of intense attention, it is claimed that fugal logic precipitates a perceptual "crisis" calling for a change in cognitive strategy. Practice permits the discovery of one such alternative, proposed to be an unusual, dissociated form of processing in which response set has been suspended without a corresponding loss of vigilance, allowing consciousness of a greater amount of perceptual information. The resultant phenomenology is marked by a heightened sense of temporal immediacy, spatial presence, emotional dynamism, combined with a feeling of depersonalisation. The ethical hypothesis deals with this experience, proposed to represent, in effect, a fragile, temporary annulment of the self: those higher-level memory constructs--including language--that mediate one's reactions to the world, and dominate processes of environmental monitoring and perception. The outcome is a novel level of interoception that seems to validate the etymology of ecstasy as a liberating experience of "standing outside the self". The specifically ethical thrust concerns the application of moral discipline, defined as an attentional focus and application of energy designed to transport the fugue state outside the confines of its ritual enactment. In this way, the subject begins to gain insight into the confining nature of habitual consciousness. Such a process, it is speculated, would be dependent upon a procedural ability to auto-cue the dissociative state in absence of the external perceptual framework that initiated it. Finally, the thesis offers an extended critique of the current cultural ethos with respect to the status of language, and in particular to the debilitating effect of dualistic thought.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Harris, Lee Mark
Pagination:ix, 362 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (Ph.D.)
Program:School of Graduate Studies
Date:2001
Thesis Supervisor(s):Baribeau, Jacinthe
ID Code:1574
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:20
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:21
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