This paper follows Edward Said’s thinking about the inherently transgressive nature of music and is part of my broader research project on transgressive listening. Here, I focus on the relation between transgression and displacement or dispossession. Displacement is explored metaphorically in terms of the relation of music to image and reality, while the language of possession in the reality of dispossession is explored in two domains: 1) how Palestinian film-maker Elia Suleiman uses music and image to create a specific gestus in Brecht’s sense; 2) how Mazen Kerbaj, an extraordinary Lebanese trumpeter who is also a recognized graphic artist and part of an experimental scene in Beirut, conceptualizes music and image technologies in conditions of destruction. During the Israeli bombing of Beirut (2006), Kerbaj conducted a diary of sketches on his blog about daily life in a city under siege and released an incredible recording of him improvising on trumpet on this terrace while Israeli planes were bombing the city.
This lecture was given at the Edward Said Memorial Conference, which focused on Edward Said’s legacy and paid tribute to the 10th anniversary of his passing. Each day of the conference featured renowned speakers and established academics on Edward Said’s work. Major attention was paid to cultural activities that resounded with Said’s vision in combining scholarship with the Arts so as to support the quest for justice, self-determination and equality.