Inuit Songs and Resonating Lyres: Harmony and Resonance in Jean-Luc Nancy’s The Inoperative Community


In The Inoperative Community Jean-Luc Nancy suggests that his conception of speech as the cornerstone of community can be likened to the image of two Inuit women engaging in traditional vocal games (katajjaq). This article (1) elucidates this connection through the analysis of ethnographic and ethnomusicological data on katajjaq; (2) shows how the similarity of this image to that of two resonating lyres present in the works of the Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino can be used to understand Nancy’s political philosophy as a discussion with the (neo)platonic tradition of harmony, to which Nancy opposes his own concept of resonance.

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