I came across this article while looking into how the idea of symmetry carries over into sound. Not knowing much about music theory, I reached for Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star as a simple example of some kind of symmetry (or inversion) between the ascending first line and the descending repetition of the second line of the melody.
In this article, I was surprised to find an author whose subject matter (and writing style) seemed very familiar to me.
…Ambience could be shown to resist the reification of space in capitalism. For like all dialectical images, ambience at once fills and overspills the ideological frame intended for it by the social structure in which it emerged. Why? Because ambience is what Jacques Lacan would call a sinthome, a metastasized kernel of inconsistent and meaningless enjoyment to which any linguistic frame would sit loose.
I have been curious about Twinkle Twinkle ever since I realized that it was the melody for three of the same kind of nursery school tunes:
If the tune for “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is a “folk” tune, it is a paradoxical one: a folk tune with a cosmopolitan reach. The traditional tune associated with “The Star” is “Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman,” that appeared without words in a 1761 Paris publication, M. Bouin’s Les Amusements d’une Heure et Demy. The tune was adapted by Mozart: Twelve Variations on “Ah, vous dirai-je, maman” was published 1785 by Christoph Torricella in Aira Variée; according to Fuld, “Beethoven improvised on the theme in his second public concert in Prague in 1798.” Fuld states further that “The song came to be sung as ABCDEFG under the title “The Schoolmaster” in 1834.” A similar tune has been set to “Baa, Baa Black Sheep,” the words for which appeared in print in about 1744 in Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book. The tune is also used in the German “Ist das nicht ein Schnitzelbank? [carpenter’s bench]” (593-4).4
Morton’s discussion of ‘ambient poetry’ in the context of dualism, ecology, and the politicization of gender overlap importantly with multisense realism, and I can see a promising connection in his use of ‘ambience’ and my exploration of eidetic-hypnotic phenomenology.
The use of ink blots for Rorschach tests underscores how certain kinds of patterns lend themselves to eidetic hallucination - seeing simulacra, especially faces, seems to be a jumping off point for accessing subconscious material and loosening associations. They are images which cause us to begin to dream or create story narratives, and therefore represent a phase transition from images in public space to subjects through private time.
I am left wondering too whether this is part of what makes a song or a performance of singing a song into a lullaby. I don’t know if Twinkle is considered a lullaby, but I would say the tune augments the hypnotic quality to that which is already present in simple poems or nursery rhymes. Rhyme is verbal symmetry.
This passage is of particular interest, where he puts his finger on the same connection with ellipsis (…) that I have.
The Romantic period is often thought to be the moment during which the world became especially story-shaped, and if not entirely teleological, then playing with the notions of ends and beginnings in the ways suggested by the “to be continued […]” openness of the Romance genre.
Just as the isomorphic filling-in theory seeks a neural explanation of how our visual sense conjures up complex patterns that are not ‘really there’, I have speculated about a generalized elliptical principle of ‘transrational algebra’ which is a key feature in defining the multi-level integration of human consciousness, the underlying weave of both sanity and insanity and, as the author suggests Romanticism and imagination.
His ‘phatic’ section (32-34) is interesting as well. The term is used to describe communication which highlights what I would call the syntax layer or medium through which semiotic process occurs, so that “the actual [pragmatic] content of the message itself is designed to soothe its addressee into sleep: to perform an effect on a subject rather than contemplate an object.”
I think that investigation of this area will bring us closer to how literal realism and figurative hyper-realism are actually joined as phenomena in the universe: how we make sense, and how sense makes us.