Taking a close reading of the Marx Brothers' film The Big Store (1941) as its thread, this article explores the possibility of extending the concept of fetishism to the very performance of music, that is, to the bodily gestures and keyboardistic fingerings executed by Chico and Harpo. Drawing on Karl Marx's and Sigmund Freud's theories of fetishism, but also taking into account Jacques Derrida's generalization of the very concept of fetish, Szendy then suggests that the condition of possibility for musicality in general (or cinematicity, for that matter) is a certain type of striated, discrete mobility, which he names “elevatoriality.” Fetishism would be inherent to music insofar as it is the name not only for the possibility of infinite exchange or circulation that music presupposes but also for the possibility of a freeze-frame or a stuck key where eyes or ears can halt.
Peter Szendy; All the Marxes at the Big Store; or, General Fetishism. boundary 2 1 February 2016; 43 (1): 209–218. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-3340697
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