Sound for Thought: Listening as Metabolism


  • Michael Vincenzo Butera



Auditory Perception, Phenomenology, Sound Experience, Metabolism, Affect, Subjectivity, Metaphor


The metaphor of metabolism, in its permeating and incorporative senses, can extend fruitfully beyond digestion. Here, I consider it as analogous to the phenomenological process of audition. Neither static nor disaffected in a state of abstract rationality, but necessarily implicated in the objects and contexts of listening, the auditor ingests, accepts, disseminates, and expulses sound. Through this, we might see the beginnings of a phenomenological vocabulary which is based in incorporative perceptual subjectivity (not universal aesthetics) and the inimitable character of audition (thus not primarily visualistic). Beyond the construction of an organic auditory phenomenology, the analogy of metabolism and audition suggests a reciprocal correspondence between the listening subject and the world within which sounds are manifested. Furthermore, these metaphors speak to a specific history of philosophical discourse concerning issues of temporal subjectivity, oral othering, and affective perception. 

Author Biography

Michael Vincenzo Butera

Michael holds a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in Social and Cultural Thought. with a dissertation entitled "Techniques of Listening and Acoustic Orders." He is currently pursuing research in sound studies, specifically in terms of perceptual phenomenology and social acoustics, and is an adjunct professor of Philosophy and Sociology.




How to Cite

Butera, M. V. (2011). Sound for Thought: Listening as Metabolism. SoundEffects - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Sound and Sound Experience, 1(1), 52–66.