Michael B. Gillespie

Michael B. Gillespie is an Assistant Professor of Film in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts, School of Film, and Department of African American Studies at Ohio University. His research focuses on film theory, black visual and expressive culture, and visual historiography. He is currently completing a book on the idea of black film. He is also co-editing a collection devoted to the Black Cinema Aesthetics conference and a collection of contemporary Chester Himes criticism.



"We Almost Lost Detroit: Sonic Historiography, 9/11, and Theo Parrish"

This paper focuses on Theo Parrish’s “Major Moments of Instant Insanity,” a song a little over twelve minutes that was released the month following the September 11th attacks. The song features a number of audio samples that include eyewitness accounts of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, news reports, a Baby Bush speech, the ambient noise of cities in distress, and a loop from Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler).” Panic is spreading. God knows where we’re headed. Hang ups, let downs. Bad breaks, set backs. Textured over a Detroit techno soundscape, the track aurally evokes the instant insanity, shock, and paranoia of 9/11 as an act of phonography.

Addressing the song as a techno fossil and sonic historiography, I will focus on how “Instant Insanity” affectively re-mediates 9/11 and thus disavows the three act rhetoric of America Attacked/Mourns/Attacks that justified the eventual military response. In this way, I consider the song’s re-mediation effect in terms of three significant issues: the memorial function of 9/11 songs in terms of pop melancholia and jingoism, the post-industrial sound signature of Detroit techno, and the significance of the song’s call for contemplation through the ghosting of Marvin Gaye. Overall, this essay focuses on the consequences of techno’s mournful sounding of New York City.

My Speakers Sessions

Saturday, March 24

2:15pm EDT