Attali, Acoustics, Neoliberalism

I had to cut this from an article I’m working on b/c it doesn’t exactly fit with the flow of the argument, but the point is really important:

Attali thinks repetition, or the “statistical and global conceptions of movement of masses” (Social Text, 11), is not just an “art of government,” to use Foucault’s term, but also an art of noises. Mid-century avant-garde art music—what he calls “non-harmonic music” (Social Text 11) manifests “the same kind of theorizing one finds in macroeconomics” (ibid). If, in neoliberalism, the laws of statistics are the mode of production of both society and surplus value, then “non-harmonic music” (Noise 115) makes “the laws of acoustics…the mode of production of a new sound matter,” and in so doing, “displays all of the characteristics of the technocracy managing the great machines of the repetitive economy” (Noise 113). Sound waves can be modeled statistically as sine-wave shaped frequencies; in this way, the laws of acoustics, at least as understood by contemporary Western physics, are statistical. Attali’s work implies that neoliberalism, as a statistical episteme, and biopolitical “art,” is sonic and acousticin its logic and metaphorics. So Attali’s not entirely correct: mid-century avant-garde art music composers use “all the characteristics of the [neoliberal] technocracy” because that neoliberal technocracy uses the laws of acoustics as the mode of capitalist production generally.