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Broadcasting Modernism$
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Debra Rae Cohen, Michael Coyle, and Jane Lewty

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813033495

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813033495.001.0001

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I Switch Off

I Switch Off

Beckett and the Ordeals of Radio

(p.274) Chapter 15 I Switch Off
Broadcasting Modernism

Steven Connor

University Press of Florida

This chapter discusses radio aesthetics, listening, radio work, alternating currents, switchboards, and tuning. The question that a radio aesthetics can never set aside is that of location. There are two standard answers to this question, both in their way amounting to the answer “no place” and thus utopian: the power of delocalization and mind-space. Radio always requires an apparatus, an array or arrangement of elements that is prepared in advance. There is a particular salience to the on/off switch of the radio that makes for a new understanding, a new experience of “offness”. When words and sounds die away on the radio, there is broadcast silence — what has come to be called “dead air”. The radio incorporates a more specific and sensitive form of executive control than either the on/off or volume switches. Listening to the radio also requires tuning.

Keywords:   radio aesthetics, listening, radio work, alternating currents, switchboards, tuning

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