Book Plug: Interstitial Soundings. Philosophical Reflections on Improvisation, Practice, and Self-Making

Interstitial SoundingsMy new book, Interstitial Soundings. Philosophical Reflections on Improvisation, Practice, and Self-Making, is now available for purchase. Below I have included a brief description of the book. Also, Cascade/Wipf & Stock has put together a very nice promotional flyer with lengthy excerpts from the first two chapters. Those interested may download this document via this link.*

In the present work, Cynthia R. Nielsen brings music and philosophy into a fruitful and mutually illuminating dialogue. Topics discussed include the following: music’s dynamic ontology, performers and improvisers as co-composers, the communal character of music, jazz as hybrid and socially constructed, the sociopolitical import of bebop, Afro-modernism and its strategic deployments, jazz and racialized practices, continuities between Michel Foucault’s discussion of self-making and creating one’s musical voice, Alasdair MacIntyre on practice, and how one might harmonize MacIntyre’s notion of virtue development with Foucauldian resistance strategies.

*Used with permission of Wipf & Stock Publishers.

A Sneak Preview of My Foucault Book (Forthcoming 2012, Wipf & Stock/Cascade)

Jazz in Blue MosaicI am happy to announce that my book proposal, Foucault and Self-Writing: On the Art of Living as Improvisation has been accepted by Wipf & Stock and will be published via their Cascade Books Imprint. In case you are unfamiliar with Wipf & Stock’s Cascade Books Imprint, here is an excerpt from their website:

“Cascade Books is the most selective of the four imprints of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Under this imprint we publish new books that combine academic rigor with broad appeal and readability. Encompassing all the major areas of theology and religion, Cascade Books has published such major authors as Stanley Hauerwas, Jürgen Moltmann, John Milbank, John Howard Yoder, Margaret Miles, and Walter Brueggemann.”

One among many things I have found attractive and laudable about Wipf & Stock is their commitment to resist as much as possible the market-driven approach to publishing.  For example, their stated vision is “to publish according to the merits of content rather than exclusively to the demands of the marketplace.”

Even though it will not be completed until early 2012, below is a brief description of my book to pique your curiosity, attract your interest, and hopefully arouse your reading desires:

Although it is fruitful to bring Foucault’s philosophical and socio-political reflections into conversation with the visual arts, enacting a similar dialogue with music and with jazz in particular reveals insights unavailable to the visual arts or plastic arts.  Music is itself inherently temporal in nature, unfolding and revealing itself sequentially. Musical performance and jazz improvisation in particular, are communal group-oriented activities. The individual musicians unite around a common piece (a “text”) and perform or birth (“interpret”) it together. Just as music is intrinsically temporal, we as humans are finite, temporal beings. Our subjectivities are shaped over time; we improve, regress, redefine, and rewrite ourselves over time. As free-yet-tradition-situated beings, ever engaged in various power relations with other free beings, we like the jazz musician have the requisite capacities to carve out distinctive subjectivities and to create and recreate our own voice, not ex nihilo but through re-appropriating the “already-said” in fresh ways.