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DigSound and Music in Hip Culture$
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Phil Ford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199939916

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199939916.001.0001

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Mailer's Sound

Mailer's Sound

(p.151) 5 Mailer's Sound

Phil Ford

Oxford University Press

In “The White Negro,” Norman Mailer gave hipness a philosophy and a manifesto. Mailer, along with many other figures in the 20th-century avant garde, believed that sound not only represents but embodies concrete experience, and that it has a unique power to actualize the energetic processes of human life in its listeners. “The White Negro” and his novel An American Dream articulate a strain of postwar radical critique for which it is abstraction from life that has resulted in the totalitarian horrors of modernity, and they outline a program of Existential liberation in which sound is the medium for the exchange of human energies. For Mailer, writing is a quasi-musical project, an attempt to create a literary “sound” that, like a musical performance, issues from risky endeavors whose outcomes are never known in advance.

Keywords:   Mailer, White Negro, Avant garde, Totalitarian, Existentialism, Abstraction, Sound, Modernity

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