Unreal Nature

March 11, 2016

But Music Carries Us Away

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:24 am

… Psyche has cast off that covering of words that caught on all the brambles.

This is from ‘On Music’ found in The Eye Listens by Paul Claudel (1950):

… By means of sound, we become immediately sensitive to those realities which otherwise are perceptible to our minds only through their relationship to the world of dimension: speed, distance, height, depth, continuity, interruption, the direct, the lateral, the heavy, the light, the simple, the complex, etc. We translate, we create space with time, and the physical with the immaterial. Between these resonant points and lines, we perceive and establish relationships, comparisons.

[line break added] Not only of figures, but of movements modified by time. All that proceeds, advances in a certain consciousness and composition of the whole that is called harmony. By means of our own mind, we impose upon the listener’s an attitude, and upon his progress, a rhythm. We absorb him into the concert. He is no longer anything but expectation and attention.

… But, of course, no art exists primarily for the satisfaction of the mind alone. It is the heart, or rather the entire being, moral, intellectual and physical, to which it, and music more than any other, has the duty of giving voice and expression. Like poetry, music has vocalized breath for its means of expression.

[line break added] But while the poet manufactures and adjusts, in the workshop of his mouth, the words that spring from his brain, the composer fixes his attention on that song alone, conducted by emotion, that he listens to issuing from the depths of his inner cavity. He speaks to someone outside of himself, he relates his soul, what he wishes, what he regrets, what has happened to him, what he sees, what he does not see — and how beautiful all that is, how bitter, how sweet, how lacerating, or terrible, or, on the contrary, how amusing, and not worth thinking about.

[line break added] And all that by a certain action exerted on the modulation of our vocalized outpouring, whether it be the reed of our larynx or of the organ, or the string stopped by the finger vibrating under the rise and fall of the bow, or of some pipe fitted to our lungs, brilliant or melancholy.

… Psyche has cast off that covering of words that caught on all the brambles, and no longer is any wall opaque for her. A god inspired in me this naked phrase that nothing resists, neither destiny, nor misfortune, nor this heart hitherto besieged in vain, nor the mystery of my own soul. It awakens Lucifer and lulls Argus to sleep.

… Painting makes the sun stand still. Architecture petrifies proportion, and sculpture, attitude. Poetry works resistant materials into shape; mobile herself, she imposes a kind of judicial strength on the reader, so that he can appreciate the play, the ode, the narrative, the stage, the logical system, that she submits to his understanding and to his sensibility. But music carries us away with her. Whether we like it or not, there is no question of our remaining in our seats.

-Julie

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