When Only the Ears Are Awake

Robert Gary Ryder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The first section of this chapter explores a theory of the acoustical unconscious and how it can be applied to listening to radio. The notion of an acoustical unconscious is largely derived from Walter Benjamin's reflections on radio and the optical unconscious. In the second part of the chapter, the author argues that the motif of ambiguity in Günter Eich's famous radio play, Dreams (1951), which decenters the listeners' own sense of self and what is real, taps into an acoustical unconscious that forces listeners to awaken to and contend with the collective history of which they are a part.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGermany in the Loud Twentieth Century
Subtitle of host publicationAn Introduction
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199918911
ISBN (Print)9780199759392
StatePublished - Jan 19 2012


  • Acoustical unconscious
  • Collective history
  • Dreams
  • Eich
  • Radio
  • Radio play
  • Walter Benjamin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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