Castoriadis on Music

I’d like to share these words regarding music, from a rather underappreciated philosopher/social and political theorist/psychoanalyst named Cornelius Castoriadis (1922-1997).  Castoriadis, for whom the idea of creation was of central importance, was greatly admired by Ornette Coleman, among other musicians.

In truth, the ground against which the musical figure rises up, its proper ground, is a silence such as would not exist in its absence, and which it creates by its being: a silence which is, for the first time perhaps in the history of the world, Nothingness. Everything which surrounds music, conditions it, everything which it presupposes, remains laughably exterior to it. Even if, as is almost inevitable, we only ever listen to it ‘impurely’, still the musical figure rises up through an abolition of the world. Its only ground is nothingness, silence — a silence which it does not even bring into existence as its background, for it annexes it without violence and makes it be as its own part. And, listening, we can have only one wish: that this should never end or that everything else should end, that the world should never be anything other or that it should be this very Nothingness.

Cornelius Castoriadis, Crossroads in the Labyrinth (MIT Press, 1984), p. xxvi.

2 thoughts on “Castoriadis on Music

  1. Pete Blum

    Ian, I think my attraction to and fascination with anything that is either in margins or in spaces between is very longstanding.



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