Unreal Nature

March 31, 2020

As Though a Door Had Opened

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:21 am

… people sing in order to make sure, through direct experience, of their existence in a layer of reality different from the one in which they encounter each other and things as speakers, as facing one another and separate from one another …

This is from Man the Musician by Victor Zuckerkandl (1973):

… the correlation of words and things is superficial, accidental. There is no intrinsic necessity for a given vocable to denote any one thing rather than another; identical vocables may denote different things, and different vocables one and the same thing. By contrast, every emotion gives forth its own characteristic expression, as a flower its scent; the correlation between the two is direct, inherent, leaves no room for ambiguity.

… For the singer, the words acquire a very special plenitude and depth of meaning. Something that remains silent in words merely spoken begins to flow, to vibrate; the words open and the singer opens to them. It is as though the tones infused the words with a force that reveals a new layer of meaning in them, that breathes life into them in a special way: not by making the word a tangible thing, as it appears when seen from outside, and certainly not in the sense of submerging it in a universal life in which all particularity, all distinctions are abolished, but exactly in its determined content when seen from inside, from a point where the word is, so to speak, an “I.”

… In the layer of meaning opened up by the tones, things that are separated meet; speaker and spoken word, “person” and “thing” come into direct contact. It is as though a door had opened through which the speaker’s living self goes out to what has been said, and what has been said enters him as something that has a life of its own, as an “I.”

… There must be a layer in which all things have their roots; then tones must, so to speak, activate this layer and thereby bring us closer to the roots of things.

… The very existence of tones is evidence of a stratum of reality in which unity shines through diversity.

Accordingly, a second answer to our question about the meaning of song might be: people sing in order to make sure, through direct experience, of their existence in a layer of reality different from the one in which they encounter each other and things as speakers, as facing one another and separate from one another — in order to be aware of their existence on a plane where distinction and separation of man and man, man and thing, thing and thing give way to unity …

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

-Julie

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