14 October 2015

'Engaging fully with the world, within time'

[In O nata lux] Lauridsen has masterfully balanced numerous different tendencies in the listener so that no single instance of melody springs univocally into the foreground.  The melody is effortlessly recognisable, but it also functions as overtones to other phrases, and as echoes of other phrases. It is part of the larger flow, and that whole flow is indicating possibilities of tones beyond itself. We find ourselves releasing our usual constraining focus of attention, our agenda-driving volition, our control over our attention in order to absorb the nuances that we cannot consciously trace out. As we do, the everyday gestalt structure of our perception is subtly but radically altered: the musical foreground and background blend together, and as they do, the distinction between listener and music as well seems to dissipate. The perceptual field temporarily suffuses what Merleau-Ponty called the "second background" of one's body. Then, when the flow of music holds back, we are brought with it into a momentary stillness of rare tranquility and openness to our surroundings, with an attitude of wonder — at least temporarily. The experience is precisely not escaping the changing natural world into an eternity beyond it. It is engaging fully with the world, within time.
'Tempos of Eternity' by Barbara C. Goodrich in Art, Aesthetics and the Brain (2015)

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