The sound of finance: Noise, music, and pension fund capitalism in William Gaddis’s JR

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William Gaddis’s JR (1975) is a novel comprised of sounds, published just as reforms on the 1st May 1975 deregulated the New York Stock Exchange. This article analyses this conjuncture of a specifically aural literary form with a nascent financialisation. It seeks to foreground how JR registers and imagines a limited form of resistance to finance capital’s sonic logics, in which the diverse noises of human labour are reified into a managed soundscape. It provides a material context for JR’s literary registration of financialisation that reveals the social functions of three financial processes: the wane of Fordist labour arrangements; the explosion of corporate pension fund capitalism; and the deregulation of the stock market rates, which popularised finance via new junk bond trading. The article concludes by considering Gaddis’s aesthetic treatment of noise as a form of musical resistance to financial logics. It argues that Gaddis aesthetically critiques finance capital’s mimetic logic, which symbolically buries the labour that guarantees capital its value and leaves only the fetish-sign. Challenging this process, Gaddis’s novel presents the social potential for a musical aesthetics that, owing to its representational looseness, allows for finance capital’s social relations to be heard despite broader economic discourses of silencing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1383-1403
Number of pages21
JournalTextual Practice
Issue number8
Early online date19 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2020


  • literary-economic
  • finance capital
  • William Gaddis
  • sound
  • noise
  • music


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