Saturday, February 06, 2010

Revelations of Eoreality

Jankélévitch makes, while essaying music's ambiguous "depth," in a section that could be placed under the heading of enchanted chronology, the seemingly prosaic statement that musical works exist exclusively in the time of their playing (p. 70). Before critiquing let's read the full paragraph for context:

Music is an essentially temporal art, not a secondarily temporal one like poetry or dramatic literature or the novel. Of course, time is necessary to perform a play: but theatrical works can be read one right after the other, or in fragments, and in any order you please. A musical work does not exist except in the time of its playing. Now, this playing occupies a certain durational interval interval (by virtue of tempo), and one can work out its timing; the elapsed time is measurable but not compressible and would not submit either to being abridged or extended. Thus the sonata is properly speaking a succession of expressive contents that unfolds itself in time: it is an enchanted chronology, a melodious form of becoming, time itself. Sonata is sonorous time: the temporal realization of the virtualities contained in two musical themes. And it takes time for the listener to discover these virtualities and for the spirit to delve into the core of this immanence: there is a time for sinking in, and this time, perpendicular to the time of the performance (if one dares to use such language), is the time that the listener spends in delving into the thickness of this meaning devoid of meaning.

(Op. cit.)

Now let's take the position that a musical work exists only in the moment of its performance, knowing that we might afford some depth to such a moment, knowing that there is a time of listening. What does one then rehearse? Of course a musical rehearsal may be thought of as a kind of performance. However in a crucial sense the rehearsal, insofar as it a performance, has an as if quality. Its being as performance, if we may permit ourselves such a phrasing, is conditional. Is it conditional on there being some—some other—awaited performance, a performance that must have the quality of not being realized, not yet, or in the case of the perpetual student of music, not ever, but in any case not realized? Is the performance pseudoreal? Eoreal? Rehearsal reveals the eoreal aspect of the performative—an aspect beyond the telic and the atelic— which minimally teaches that the temporality of the musical is indeed well characterized as having depth, if not depth of being, which may perhaps not pertain to things eoreal, then appreciably depth of phenomenality.

What does rehearsal mean for enchantment? Again, one comes up against a problem of repetition. "In music," Jankélévitch asks (p. 71), "is repetition not often innovation?" I ask, is repetition in general an essay of the work of temporality itself, an essay which potentially reveals the eoreal aspect of time?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 8:32 PM.


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