Neoliberal Noise: Attali, Foucault, & the Biopolitics of Uncool

Culture, Theory, and Critique 52 (2):138-158 (2014)

Authors
Robin M. James
University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Abstract
Is it even possible to resist or oppose neoliberalism? I consider two responses that translate musical practices into counter-hegemonic political strategies: Jacques Attali’s theory of “composition” and the biopolitics of “uncool.” Reading Jacques Attali’s Noise through Foucault’s late work, I argue that Attali’s concept of “repetition” is best understood as a theory of neoliberal biopolitics, and his theory composition is actually a model of deregulated subjectivity. Composition is thus not an alternative to neoliberalism but its quintessence. An aesthetics and ethos of “uncool” might be a more viable alternative. If and when they function as bad, unprofitable investments, uncool practices like smoothness (predictable regularity) can undercut neoliberal imperatives to self-capitalization. I consider both the impact of neoliberalism on music, and how the study of music can advance theories of neoliberalism.
Keywords attali  foucault  music  neoliberalism  noise  biopolitics
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