Unreal Nature

October 28, 2018

This Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:54 am

… its depth calls out to ours.

This is from Music and the Ineffable by Vladimir Jankélévitch translated by Carolyn Abbate (1983):

… Music is entirely ludic in that it remains on the margins of any prosaic or utilitarian existence; and nonetheless, with regard to its immanent meaning, music is serious absolutely serious, as distant from comedy’s fragmentation as from tragedy’s engagement. Frivolous? Not frivolous? It depends. Music represents more a sort of “other Seriousness” a second kind of Seriousness, paradoxically foreign to Seriousness pure and simple, that is, foreign to the “real” Seriousness we associate with perception and action.

… Considering its naïve and immediate truth, music does not signify anything other than what it is: music is not an exposé, revealing some nontemporal truth; rather, it is exposition itself that is the only truth, the serious truth.

… is the notion of depth applicable to music: yes or no? Once more, I need to answer in a noncommittal way: yes and no. As sonorous presence, music could be said to correspond, in its entirety, to the superficial actuality of the process of hearing it. In other words, music could occupy its phenomenal aspect as appearance perceptible to the senses: in this initial sense there would be nothing to look for behind the façade, no conclusion to be drawn, no consequence to deduce; the magic has a natural end since it is its own meaning and raison d’être. Music, from this standpoint, is exactly what it appears to be, without secret intentions or ulterior motives.

… [But] A musical work does not exist except in the time of its playing.

… 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.

… There is no unfathomable depth, but there is an inexhaustible, unfailing, unflagging possibility of emotion. In their resistance to seeming weary, in the permanent newness of great works, the miracle of eternal youth fulfills itself. In music, is repetition not often innovation?

… And since a musical work itself performs itself, lets itself be heard along the axis of time, it is hardly surprising that the richness of its nonsignifying signification, or its inexpressive expressiveness, is not flaunted in space, all at once in its entirety, but unfolds itself little by little, for patient, attentive ears: its depth calls out to ours.

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

-Julie

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