Saturday, November 21, 2009

Does Music Appear?

Jankélévitch writes, "In the very measure that one tends to confer upon music the dimension of depth, music is, perhaps, the most superficial form of appearance" (Music and the Ineffable, p. 11). Taking up Jankélévitch's problematic requires putting any hermeneutics of music into question, a position which invites us to consider the question of whether music is a form of appearance at all. That music is a form of appearance is upon reflection not at all obvious. The very idea of appearance as we have inherited it evokes a hermeneutics. Appearance elicits an understanding of depth that, duly appreciated, demands the persistence of a critical distance between immediacy and experience. Does music absolutely require such an interpretive distance, as some musicologists would claim? On the contrary one could argue that in order to be music—as it urges to be understood—music must break from criticism. We could of course refine our notions of "understanding" and "appearance." We could make allowances for music. But does music want our allowances? Aren't we in the end left with ideas that don't mean in the way we want ideas to mean? We have no idea of music. We have no idea of music, yet we still live it, and we still want to approach it philosophically.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 6:40 AM. 0 comments

Friday, November 06, 2009


If you dig "Peace" you'll probably dig "Shirl," a Horace Silver ballad with a couple of rhythmic quirks and a handful of far out harmonic ideas.

James Mahone has provided a transcription of the head. I'm trying to spell out the chords (or implications of chords, you know) and either make a usable lead sheet or just learn the tune so I don't need one. At this point it seems rather doable on guitar. I know Hutcherson did a version on vibes (with strings, no kidding). If anybody knows of a version done on a horn I'd love to hear it. And, incidentally, I think Flanagan's version of "Peace" is pretty definitive, but I'm all ears.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 4:28 PM. 0 comments

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Shudder as Ongoing Recollection

The philosophical question of the moment is whether the spasmoreal is mediated by ideation or any passage through an ideality that would mean exposure to its repercussions. Where does the shudder of the sudden come from? Could this shudder be symptomatic of an awareness of recollection exactly as it happens? We couldn't be aware of such an awareness and still be in the process of recollection, could we? Yet there appears to be some trace of such a subterranean awareness in the shudder, which gives sense to the spasmoreal.

In spasmorealization are we technically operating within consciousness, i.e., one observes spasmoreal moments within a more or less phenomenal unicity of existential duration, or do we instead in spasmorealizing enact a modality of sudden consciousness, a modality that would paradoxically carry within itself both an awareness of its coming into being and simultaneously an inability to be fully aware of itself (in its ongoing recollective aspect)? Now imagine that irrealization is a condition of possibility for any spasmorealization. Immediacy is the condition of possibility for any mediacy. And why not?

You may well accuse me of misreading Kangas. He relates that according to Kierkegaard recollection is a specific kind of repetition that is neither reality nor ideality, but both reality and ideality that has been. But let's look for a second at what's being said of repetition. (We'll come back to it again, I'm sure.) Is repetition either reality or ideality? "Repetition indeed has the same structure as mediation: reality is cancelled (hæves) and set into the light of ideality at the same time. The real is made plastic for consciousness" (Kierkegaard's Instant, p. 84). Is the spasmoreal plastic, and if so, has it been made plastic for consciousness? (In such pathways one risks thinking that if consciousness plasticizes itself with a sufficient feeling of suddenness one may speak of spasmoreality, and the problem remains that, being conditioned upon irrealization, the imagination may have surreptitiously canceled reality in the very giving of the spasmoreal; the spasmoreal is always spasmoreal—and in that cancellation its sense of suddenness is jeopardized. Could we really then be talking about the spasmoreal as such?)

Anyway, to return to my misreading, Kangas says very clearly that as repetition, "consciousness is itself the gap between reality and its re-presentation" (p. 86). Let's play along for a second. The spasmoreal would not then be a mode of consciousness but something like a place where consciousness finds itself, and, one might add, finds itself duplicitously. Does consciousness really belong here, it seems to ask almost itself. The point of the misreading is that repetition is decidedly outside of reality, even if it's only outside in the sense that there used to be something real which people called repetition. However, if I believe that, what do I make of the shudder of the spasmoreal? Does this signify for me in any way a manifestation of repetition? Indeed it's hard not read the shudder as itself expressive of repetition at the same time the shudder is the attenuation of a trauma, not the trauma itself, but a repercussion. The repercussion is the blur within apophansis. It gives a sense that consciousness is not merely intentional, that is, consciousness of something, but also of something else again. We can give the something else again the name recollection but are we thereby any closer to understanding it? How much closer to understanding could we be than sudden? We could say this recollection is ongoing. Does the spasmoreal, in order to be sudden, carry within itself the cancelation of this ongoingness?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 3:21 PM. 0 comments