Hits: Philosophy in the Jukebox is an extraordinary foray into what apple has convinced us is “the soundtrack of our lives.” How does music come to inhabit us, to possess and haunt us? What does it mean that a piece of music can insert itself—Szendy’s term for this, borrowed from German, is the earworm—into our ears and minds?
In this book, Peter Szendy probes the ever-growing and ever more global phenomenon of the hit song. Hits is the culmination of years of singular attentiveness to the unheard, the unheard-of, and the overheard, as well as of listening as it occurs when one pays anything but attention. Szendy takes us through our musical bodies, by way of members and instruments, playing and governing apparatuses, psychic and cinematic doublings, political and economic musings.
The hit song, Szendy concludes, functions like a myth, a force of repetition that grows by force of repetition. In the repetition generated by the song’s relation to itself, Szendy locates its production as a fetishized commodity, a self-producing structure, and a self-desiring machine. Like a Deleuzian machine, then, the hit song is a technology of the self, or better, a technology of rule, a bio-melo-technology.
After reading this book, one can no longer avoid realizing that music is more than
a soundtrack: It is the condition of our lives. We are all melomaniacs, Szendy tells us in his unique style of writing and of thought. We are melo-obsessive subjects, not so much driven to a frenzy by a music we hardly have time to listen to as governed and ruled by it.