So Transported: Nina Simone, ‘My Sweet Lord’ and the (Un)folding of Affect
Chapter from Sound, Music, Affect: Theorizing Sonic Experience, edited by Marie Thompson and Ian Biddle (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013)
This chapter is based around an analysis of Nina Simone’s recorded performance of George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’. The initial analysis develops into an exploration of the recorded ‘representations’ of Nina Simone’s performances, the gap between affect and representation, and the ways in which representations produce their own affects. It draws from theories of the evental, the transformative and the affective as outlined by Alain Badiou, J. L. Austin and Brian Massumi. It also makes reference to what Kathleen Stewart calls ‘ordinary affects’ in order to highlight the formative strategies of religious and/or ritualistic affect that can be found in Simone’s work. The first half is written from a series of fixed perspectives, while the second is crafted to reflect the themes under discussion, in particular the notions of folding, unfolding and refolding. Where scholarly analysis typically refolds the unfolding it has undertaken in order to present its findings as a coherent whole, something always already known, the purpose here is to leave part of the story unfolded as both provocation and exposition of the layers at work when analysing affect.
More information about the book here.