The article examines the nature of sound by taking as its starting point Kafka’s story “The Burrow,” in which an animal, a badger, builds an elaborate and labyrinthine burrow as a bastion of protection against the outside. In this refuge it is disturbed by the intrusion of a sound of which it cannot find the origin. This situation is taken as a sound laboratory, where the nature of the sound and the subjective attitudes it implies are closely scrutinized. From this vantage point, the article pursues an analysis of sound and proposes to place sound at the pivotal point of twelve oppositions: wakefulness/sleep; inside/outside; cause/disruption of causality; floating/fixation, location/dislocation; time/space; one/multiple; duration/intermittency, sound/silence; subject/Other; reality/fantasy, meaningless/meaning; sound/voice; “being and time,” “being and nothingness,” “being and event”; and finally, the edge of modernity of which Kafka is the major harbinger. The article argues for a view in which sound, and the particular experience of sound in Kafka’s context, can be taken as an ontological opening with ample ramifications in contemporary philosophy and psychoanalysis.

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