chapter  3
22 Pages

NATURA MUSICANS: TERRITORY AND THE REFRAIN

According to Messiaen, birds are probably “the greatest musicians existing on our planet” (Samuel 51). As we have seen, this conjunction of birds and music points in one direction toward a conceptualization of human music as a cosmic art, one that is directly in touch with the differential rhythms of the natural world. But it also points in another direction, toward a biological contextualization of music and the other arts. Are birds musicians? Do animals have art? If so, what is the relationship between human art and the art of other creatures? These are some of the questions Deleuze and Guattari explore in plateau 11 of A Thousand Plateaus, the guiding thread of their discussion being the concept of “territoriality.” Our concern here is to show how this discussion affects our understanding of ethology, developmental biology, and evolutionary theory, and how we might begin to relate aesthetics to these sciences.