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.


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