Tomorrow morning at 6:11, I'll be drinking tea. By nature, I'm a PG Tips sort of guy, but a time like this, will probably brew a pot of Yunnan Golden Pu-Erh. I started drinking this on afternoons while off work recuperating from surgery. My wife's family lives in an area that produces most of the commercial mushrooms available in the US. The smell of good manure, massive piles of it, steaming, lit by our headlights, crisp the next morning, ready to cook brussel sprouts for thanksgiving dinner. That's what this tea tastes like.
I'll be drinking tea, done meditating, and listening to Quartet for the end of time.
Jeremy Bebgie, in Theology, Music and Time is looking to show how a study of music can help with a study of theology. He writes about the nature of time. How music engages time. How when we listen to music we are experiencing time. So an understanding of musical experience can help understand time.
"By sharing in the temporarily of music, we share in the temporarily of the physical world"
I'm pulling some of this from notes in a moleskine journal, February 2011. We were all up at a cabin, maybe a dozen of us from all over (picture the same group as Thanksgiving, smelling manure). The cabin is shared by the local gun club, my brother-in-law books it each year for Presidents' Day weekend. There's a quarry down the road where we can go target shooting, and I make sure there's always plenty of beer for later. Some years, we've had enough snow to trouble our awesome Subaru all-wheel drive. One year, we got to borrow a snowmobile from the guys at a cabin further in who had needed a winch to get their truck out of the ditch. I wear leggings under my jeans, a fleece dressing gown over my coat, and get to smoke my pipe in the outhouse for warmth.
|Walking at the cabin|
This year, that night, I couldn't sleep. I'd had my fill of wild turkey, but I couldn't get away from the snoring. I was wanting to sleep off the drink but it was fecking horrible, that snoring. I turned on a kerosene lamp, sat at the large wooden palette table, and tried to keep my shit together.
I know I was reading Begbie's book, and was either writing in the margins or copying citations to my journal. On page 36, I made this shaky note. "its like he read my first SETI paper and built this whole book around it". That's a dubious and ungracious assertion, but I'll stand by it. Here's what he wrote:
"Our sense of time is radically affected by immeasurable biological clocks...within those smaller-scale kinetic rhythm controlled by the central nervous system ( heart, breath, pulse) and within those the very brief subminiature rhythms of the brains electrical impulses along neural pathways. Music intertwined with al of these in ways we are only just beginning to understand. And interlac with these factors are a host of social and cultural determinants which affect the quality of temporal experiences and hence the way music is practiced, experienced and theorized"
Begbie also paraphrases Stephen Hawking. "Real time is not fundamental, but is an epiphenomenon of imaginary time." I had to look it up to be sure. An epiphenomenon is a secondary characteristic that arises from but is not a cause of some other phenomenon. Consciousness, they say, is an epiphenomenon of biology. Music is an epiphenomenon of time.
Messiaen writes music that stands for, presents time as, an object. Fragments of patterns repeat, appear in counterpoint, return with a different context, placed in a different constellation like the progression of the galactic plane.
The other thing about Messiaen's music is that if it were allowed to run itself out, the next alignment of repeated patterns would happen only at a point where to divergent lines cross. ( I'm thinking more of something like Chronochromie rather than the quartet. ) Each gesture holds an intimation of a pattern. The end of time is not a point where all the clocks stops, where entropy ceases to accumulate. The end of time is a position outside time. At the edge of time. Memory extracts music from time. Sound becomes an architectural object to behold. Wallace Stevens "the fire-fangled feathers dangle down".
Sound as a physical phenomenon captures an essential aspect of time. Begbie, again:
"[music is ] especially free to offer a peculiarly intense experience of the temporarily of human existence but of the world we in dwell as physical creatures."
I think this is what Hawking is getting at. Newtonian mechanics places time as a background against which activity occurs. But time is much more a part of things, and music is a phenomena that floats on time's surface deeply expressing some of the contradictory ideas that we hold about time-space. Time-Space is a hack word. Lets use instead Timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly.
See you tomorrow morning!
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