Unreal Nature

January 29, 2016

The Rent, Discontinuous Fabric

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:36 am

… [an art that,] finding itself humiliatingly outstripped by a culture in which acceleration has become the dominant value, began to look for ways of turning from speed or promptness or punctuality; … wanted to try to stop being on time …

Continuing through Beckett, Modernism and the Material Imagination by Steven Connor (2014):

… Going slowly ought to give us time to keep pace with our lives, ought to allow us to watch our step, to hear the feet however faint they fall. Slowness has the reputation of allowing us to take control over our lives, to take our time or be there, as we impenetrably say, in the moment.

In the condition I am going to keep on calling slow going, however, there can be no convergence of the one who undergoes and the one who perceives the time of elapsing. There can be no deliberation. We cannot live at the rate at which we nevertheless must live; we cannot live in the time that it will over and over again turn out that we were all along living out.

… [Beckett] is in fact the most important inaugurator of a mode of aesthetic defection from speed. It seems to be precisely the uninterpretability of slowness that has made it so important in the art of that — what is the wrong word exactly? — rearguard, that avant-garde which, finding itself humiliatingly outstripped by a culture in which acceleration has become the dominant value, began to look for ways of turning from speed or promptness or punctuality; an art that wanted to try to stop being on time; hence musical minimalism, and especially the beautiful excruciation of Steve Reich’s phase-experiments; and the rent, discontinuous fabric of the work of John Cage and Morton Feldman …

… Slowness is not representable because it is the presence of the decay of presence. Representation is an effect of punctuality, or promptness, of the ravelling or puckering of time. Slowness testifies to asynchrony, a failure to meet up or come together. Speed is inflammatory, infectious. It calls me into its condition, chiding and chivvying, pulling me out of my time into its more than time, time raised to the power of time.

… We mistake the experience of slowness as a simple negative measure; if only things could go more quickly, in the queue, on the end of the line, during pain or unhappiness. But slow going is not quite this. It is the experience of a loss of temporal relativity; when things are going slowly, the scale of measurement itself begins to elongate, to attenuate, to dissolve.

… Lyotard says we need to pinch time to perceive its passage. We need to put our hand into the current, to feel its onward pressure from the resulting turbulence. There needs to be something nontemporal inserted into the flow of time for temporality to come into being. But we might as well say that the hand recognizes that it is stationary only because there is passage, because of the difficulty of holding its position against the current.

My most recent previous post from Connor’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

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