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1787 __ « Panopticon; or, The Inspection-House, containing the idea of a new principle of construction, applicable to any sort of establishment, in which persons of any description are to be kept under inspection ... » — Panacousticon
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
Comment : The Panacousticon: Producing the Subject Through Sound.A close reading of Jeremy Bentham's writings on the Panopticon suggests that in addition to the production of the subject through vision, modern disciplinarity is also very much concerned with the administration of sound as a means for producing 'spontaneously' docile bodies: « to save the troublesome exertion of voice that might otherwise be necessary, and to prevent one prisoner from knowing that the inspector was occupied by another prisoner at a distance, a small tin tube might reach from each cell to the inspector's lodge, passing across the area, and so in at the side of the correspondent window of the lodge. By means of this implement, the slightest whisper of the one might be heard by the other, especially if he had proper notice to apply his ear to the tube ». In this way then, we might say that Bentham's prisoner was constructed such that, not only is he constantly being 'seen without seeing', but also that he is constantly being 'heard without hearing' in return; he therefore learns, over an extended period of time, to 'watch what he says' and to thereby shape every element of his speech (and other bodily noises) in a manner acceptable to the inspector, whom could interject and rearrange the conditions of life at any moment. Obviously, just as in the visual domain, this logic did not remain confined to the prison itself, but extended outwards in every direction, producing 'migrants' as much as 'citizens', and 'wives' as much as 'sons', in ways that would not otherwise have been the case. Habermas' argument from “The Transformation of the Public Sphere” (and the dissertation by Marshall Soules, “Jürgen Habermas and the Public Sphere”) reveals this logic through a reading of the architecture of the modern bourgeois home, where, while the illusion of individual freedom persists, particularly insofar as one blocks the visuality of paternal authority by 'going to one's room', one cannot finally block its audible dimension, due to the prevalence of "thin walls [which] guaranteed, if need be, a freedom of movement protected from sight but not from hearing; they too assumed functions of social communications difficult to distinguish from social control. Privacy was not the given medium of home life, but rather one that first had to be brought about" (157). Given the current debacle over the 'extent' to which government surveillance of the public is acceptable phenomena, particularly apropos the massive wiretapping of international telephone conversations, it seems that it would be enormously beneficial to revisit the question of how the subject is not only repressed by power but is actually produced by it, and to begin to thereby think through what the 'panacousticon' and the late modern citizen-subject is rapidly becoming. (Jason Adams)“Of course, the problem with bentham's tin pipes - and the reason he could not realize a panacousticon was exactly that "one could hear the other" - the hearing/being heard diad could not be broken. However, in a footnote to her introduction to disciplining music, Katherine Bergeron points out that the modern orchestra may be the ultimate realization of the panacousticon: fanned out around the central conductor (and with the audience masked in darkness), a member of the orchestra never knows exactly who the conductor may be listening to at a given moment, only that he is listening. The wiretap is an interesting example, considering the recent controversy. [...] Judith Butler recently discussed in "Indefinite Detention" (precarious life) the intermingling of sovereignty and governmentality in this disciplinary mechanism, echoing the constellation of power. There are "right" or "lawful" ways to go about auditory surveillance, and there are "wrong" ways that are "above the law" or "overstepping" the normal function of the executive office. either way, the panacousticon is incomplete, but there is a pull between dividing the population into those juridically determined necessary to keep under surveillance and those worthy of maintaining privacy, and the sovereign or arbitrary "deeming" of a potential for dangerous action. Considering the overwhelming silence that followed so many extra-legal (and indefinite) detentions, the noise erupting around the act of extra-legal wire-tapping takes on an almost eery tone.”. (one member of the Jason Adams’ blog)“It is important that this architecture for monitoring, this machine for seeing everything goes alongside with the possibility - which Bentham envisaged without really developing it - of a panacoustical or panaural device. On two occasions, in the second and the twenty-first letter, Bentham mentions the “voice” and the “ear”. [...] What Bentham proposes here, as a supplement to his Panopticon, is a kind of voice-carrier that is all-encompassing and selective at the same time: in other words, a Panacousticon which facilitates communication between inspectors and inspected in the context of an organized work. In the second instance (the last letter dedicated to schools), Bentham tries to distinguish the principle of the Panopticon from “Dionysius’ ear”. [...] Thus, with its panacoustical supplement, the Panopticon is, at the same time, more and less than Dionysius’ ear. More, since surveillance is potentially permanent; less, since it neglects the inmates’ intimate secrets. Foucault mentioned the possible panacoustic extension of Bentham’s plan in a footnote: “Bentham in his first version of the Panopticon has also envisaged acoustic surveillance, by means of tubes that connect the cells with the central tower. He abandoned this idea in the Postscript to the Panopticon [1791], probably because he could not introduce the dissymmetry required in order to prevent the inmates from hearing the inspector in the same way as he heard them » (Michel Foucault, “Surveiller et punir”, p. 235, note 2). Foucault seems to forget that Bentham, with his tin tubes, had in mind the communication of orders rather than audio surveillance. It is true, though, that Bentham would certainly have had troubles with a unidirectional isolation of the tubes, i. e. with finding acoustical Venetian blinds, so to speak. But, as we can see from the engravings in Athanasius Kircher’s “Musurgia Universalis” (they represent palaces equipped with small auditory tunnels for surveillance), the capacity of sound to diffuse and pervade everything did not impede the construction of buildings dedicated to eavesdropping.”. (Peter Szendy, “1787 : Bentham, Mozart”, In explicit-music.org, Journal for Music and Musical Theory, Multimedia Institute from Zagreb and CHINCH - Initiative for contemporary music and live arts from Belgrade, Biennale 2005)
French comment : "Par deux fois, dans les lettres deuxième et vingt-unième, Bentham évoque la voix (voice) et l'oreille (ear). La première fois, il s'agit de la transmission de la voix, comme instance de l'autorité surveillante. [...] Ce que Bentham envisage comme un appoint ou supplément accessoire à son "Panopticon", c'est une sorte de porte-voix pandirectionnel et sélectif à la fois : un "Panacousticon" facilitant la communication, la transmission entre surveillants et surveillés, dans le contexte d'un travail organisé. La seconde fois, en revanche, que l'ouïe est évoquée (dans l'ultime lettre consacrée aux écoles), il s'agit bien de distinguer le principe du Panopticon de celui, ancien et dépassé, de "L'Oreille de Dionysos". [...] Ainsi, le Panopticon, avec son éventuel supplément panacoustique, serait à la fois plus et moins que l'oreille de Dionysos. Plus, car la surveillance y est potentiellement permanente; moins, car elle ne vise pas, apparemment, les secrets intimes de ses occupants. Toutefois, la panoptique de Bentham, ainsi que sa panacoustique, paraît bien s'inscrire dans la continuité d'une histoire de l'espionnage, si l'on considère, que, paradoxalement, le mot employé pour l'en distinguer, à savoir le terme de "monitor", s'avère étonnamment prémonitoire, si j'ose dire. En anglais comme en français, en effet, un moniteur, c'est certes d'abord un instructeur, un guide ou un entraîneur; mais c'est aussi devenu, avec le temps et l'évolution technologique, une appareil de surveillance ou un système d'information (on parle ainsi d'un "moniteur cardiaque", ou encore de "moniteurs de contrôle"). Et il n'est pas impensable que, dans l'espionnage moderne, l'accès aux secrets latents se confonde avec l'observation des actes patents dont parle Bentham. Si bien que la distinction entre espion et moniteur deviendrait fragile, sinon impossible. [Michel] Foucault avait relevé le prolongement panacoustique possible du plan de Bentham. Il remarquait ainsi, dans une note : « Bentham dans sa première version du Panopticon avait imaginé aussi une surveillance acoustique, par des tuyaux menant des cellules à la tour central. Il l'a abandonnée dans le Postcript ("Postcript to the Panopticon, 1791) peut-être parce qu'il ne pouvait pas introduire de dissymétrie et empêcher les prisonniers d'entendre le surveillant aussi bien que le surveillant les entendait. » ("Surveiller et Punir", p. 235, note 2). Foucault néglige ici le fait que, avec ses tuyaux d'acier, Bentham ne visait pas principalement la surveillance, mais plutôt la communication des ordres. Il est toutefois indéniable, d'une part, que Bentham aurait eu du mal à isoler acoustiquement, "et dans un seul sens", lesdits tuyaux, comme il a pu le faire pour les rayons visuels au moyen de persiennes et de chicanes. Mais d'autre part, comme en témoignent les gravures de Kircher, le pouvoir de propagation et d'infiltration du son n'a jamais empêché la mise au point d'une « échotectonique » servant les écoutes. Quel est donc l’enjeu de la différence entre l’ouïe et le regard quant à la nécessaire dissymétrie qu’implique le renseignement, voire la captation ou la détection d’un secret en général ? [...] Dans le projet de Bentham, l’horizon problématique de la surveillance.qu’elle soit auditive ou visuelle.est celui du bouclage du dispositif sur lui-même. Il importe en effet à Bentham que les prisionniers soient eux-mêmes protégés par leur visibilité permanente, c’est-à-dire par la transparence générale. Et le panoptique est donc pensé pour mettre le surveillant sous surveillance à son tour, en incluant le visiteur potentiel dans le système d’inspection. Comme si la nécessité d’une dissymétrie structurelle dans la circulation des regards (et des écoutes) différait infiniment la clôture, le rêve du circuit fermé, en y injectant sans cesse un surcroît d’yeux (ou d’oreilles) : au fond, ce que Bentham appelle le « grand comité public », ce n’est peut-être rien d’autre que cette “différance” de et dans la pansurveillance réciproque. (voir la sixième lettre de Bentham)". (Peter Szendy)
Original excerpt 1 : « Second Letter : Plan for a Penitentiary Inspection-house.[...] To save the troublesome exertion of voice that might otherwise be necessary, and to prevent one prisoner from knowing that the inspector was occupied by another prisoner at a distance, a small tin tube might reach from each cell to the inspector's lodge, passing across the area, and so in at the side of the correspondent window of the lodge. By means of this implement, the slightest whisper of the one might be heard by the other, especially if he had proper notice to apply his ear to the tube. With regard to instruction, in cases where it cannot be duly given without the instructor's being close to the work, or without setting his hand to it by way of example before the learner's face, the instructor must indeed here as elsewhere, shift his station as often as there is occasion to visit different workmen; unless he calls the workmen to him, which in some of the instances to which this sort of building is applicable, such as that of imprisoned felons, could not so well be. But in all cases where directions, given verbally and at a distance, are sufficient, these tubes will be found of use. They will save, on the one hand, the exertion of voice it would require, on the part of the instructor, to communicate instruction to the workmen without quitting his central station in the lodge; and, on the other, the confusion which would ensue if different instructors or persons in the lodge were calling to the cells at the same time. And, in the case of hospitals, the quiet that may be insured by this little contrivance, trifling as it may seem at first sight, affords an additional advantage. [...]Sixth letter : Advantages of the Plan.[...] Another very important advantage, whatever purposes the plan may be applied to, particularly where it is applied to the severest and most coercive purposes, is, that the under keepers or inspectors, the servants and subordinates of every kind, will be under the same irresistible controul with respect to the head keeper or inspector, as the prisoners or other persons to be governed are with respect to them. On the common plans, what means, what possibility, has the prisoner of appealing to the humanity of the principal for redress against the neglect or oppression of subordinates in that rigid sphere, but the few opportunities which, in a crowded prison, the most conscientious keeper can afford - but the none at all which many a keeper thinks fit to give them? How different would their lot be upon this plan! [...] In mentioning inspectors and superintendents who are such by office, I must not overlook that system of inspection, which, however little heeded, will not be the less useful and efficacious: I mean, the part which individuals may be disposed to take in the business, without intending, perhaps, or even without thinking of, any other effects of their visits, than the gratification of their own particular curiosity. What the inspector's or keeper's family are with respect to him, that, and more, will these spontaneous visitors be to the superintendent, - assistants, deputies, in so far as he is faithful, witnesses and judges should he ever be unfaithful, to his trust. So as they are but there, what the motives were that drew them thither is perfectly immaterial; whether the relieving of their anxieties by the affecting prospect of their respective friends and relatives thus detained in durance, or merely the satisfying that general curiosity, which an establishment, on various accounts so interesting to human feelings, may naturally be expected to excite. You see, I take for granted as a matter of course, that under the necessary regulations for preventing interruption and disturbance, the doors of these establishments will be, as, without very special reasons to the contrary, the doors of all public establishments ought to be, thrown wide open to the body of the curious at large - the great open committee of the tribunal of the world. And who ever objects to such publicity, where it is practicable, but those whose motives for objection afford the strongest reasons for it?.Twenty-first letter : Schools.[...] I hope no critic of more learning than candour will do an inspection-house so much injustice as to compare it to Dionysius' ear. The object of that contrivance was, to know what prisoners said without their suspecting any such thing. The object of the inspection principle is directly the reverse: it is to make them not only suspect, but be assured, that whatever they do is known, even though that should not be the case. Detection is the object of the first: prevention, that of the latter. In the former case the ruling person is a spy; in the latter he is a monitor. The object of the first was to pry into the secret recesses of the heart; the latter, confining its attention to overt acts, leaves thoughts and fancies to their proper ordinary, the court above. [...] »
French translated excerpt 2 : « Pour épargner l'exercice pénible de la voix qui pourrait sinon être nécessaire, et pour éviter qu'un prisonnier puisse savoir que le surveillant est occupé avec un autre prisonnier ailleurs, un petit tuyau d'acier pourrait relier chaque cellule à la loge de surveillance... Au moyen de ce dispositif, le moindre soupir de l'un pourrait être entendu de l'autre (the slightest whisper of the one might be heard by the other) ... Concernant l'instruction [...], dans tous les cas où il suffit de donner les ordres verbalement et à distance, ces tuyaux seront utiles. D'une part, ils épargneront l'exercice de la voix requis de la part de l'instructeur pour communiquer ses instructions aux travailleurs sans quitter sa position centrale dans la loge; et, d'autre part, ils éviteront la confusion qui résulterait si divers instructeurs ou individus dans la loge appelaient les cellules en même temps. Dans le cas des hôpitaux, le calme que peut assurer cette petite invention (little contrivance), si frivole à première vue, offre un avantage supplémentaire.Un des grands avantages collatéraux de ce plan, c’est de mettre les sous-inspecteurs, les sublaternes de tout genre, sous la même inspection que les prisonniers : il ne peut rien se passer entre eux qui ne soit vu par l’inspecteur en chef. Dans les prisons ordinaires, un prisonnier vexé par ses gardiens n’a aucun moyen d’en appeler à l’humanité de ses supérieurs; s’il est négligé ou opprimé, il faut qu’il souffre; mais dans le panoptique, l’œil du maître est partout; il ne peut point y avoir de tyrannie subalterne, de vexations secrètes ... Il y aura, d’ailleurs, des curieux, des voyageurs, les amis ou parents des prisonniers, des connaissances de l’inspecteur et des autres officiers de la prison qui, tous animés de motifs différents, viendront ajouter à la force du principe salutaire de l’inspection, et surveilleront les chefs commes les chefs surveillent touts les subalternes. Ce grand comité du public perfectionnera tous les établissements qui seront soumis à sa vigilance et à sa pénétration.J'espère qu'aucun critique [...] ne fera à une maison de surveillance (inspection-house) l'injustice de la comparer à l'oreille de Dionysos (Dionysus' ear). L'objet de cette dernière invention (contrivance), c'était de savoir ce que disaient les prisonniers sans qu'ils en aient le moindre soupçon. L'objet du principe de surveillance, c'est exactement le contraire : c'est non seulement de les faire "soupçonner", mais plus encore de les "convaincre" que tout ce qu'ils font est connu, même si ce n'est pas le cas. La détection, tel est l'objet de la première invention; celle de la seconde est la "prévention". Dans le premier cas, la personne qui détient le pouvoir est un espion (the ruling person is a spy); dans le second, elle est un moniteur (a monitor). L'objet de la première invention était de s'insinuer dans les recoins secrets du cœur (to pry into the secret recesses of the heart); celui de la seconde, qui se contente d'une attention aux "actes explicites", laisse les pensées et l'imagination aux soins de leur tribunal ordinaire, celui qui siège "là-haut" ... » (Panopticon, vingt et unième lettre)
Source : Bentham, Jeremy (1791), "Mémoire sur un nouveau principe pour construire des maisons d’inspection, et nommément, des maisons de force", Adaptation lue à l’Assemblée Nationale et publiée avec une lettre introductive de l’auteur, et éléborée par Étienne Dumont, réédition Mille et Une Nuits, 2002, pp. 12-13.
Source : Szendy, Peter (2007), "Sur Écoute, Esthétique de l’Espionnage", Paris, Éditions de Minuit, pp. 35-38.
Source : Foucault, Michel (1975), "Surveiller et Punir - Naissance de la prison", Gallimard, p. 235, note 2.
Source : Habermas, Jürgen (1962), “The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a category of Bourgeois Society”, Trans. Thomas Burger with Frederick Lawrence. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991.
Source : Bergeron, Katherine & Bohlman, Philip V. (1992), "Disciplining Music — Musicology and Its Canons", The University of Chicago Press.
Urls : http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/journal/cpwpan.htm (last visited ) http://jasonadams.livejournal.com/30806.html (last visited ) http://records.viu.ca/~soules/media301/habermas.htm (last visited ) http://www.benthampapers.ucl.ac.uk/ (last visited ) http://www.explicit-music.org/ProJects/ArchipelagosOfSound/ArchipelagosBooklet/szendy_final.pdf (last visited ) http://cartome.org/panopticon2.htm (last visited )

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