Future, Present, and Past as Threat to Sanity
In a Glass Hour is a lecture series devoted to exploring the topic of time from the diverse perspectives of media theorists, scientists, artists, historians, journalists and others. Taking a broadly interdisciplinary approach to this singular subject, the series will point to the elasticity of this pervasive topic. In this talk, music will serve as projection screen to reflect thoughts on time. Music is, quite obviously, not language (even though there are many who say music is the universal language). Sound moves differently in time than pictures or touch. A printed book evolves differently in time when we read it than a piece of music when we listen to it. A film can be fast-forwarded differently than a piece of music. Music in Western culture has dealt with time and rhythm differently than music of other cultures. The western notation of music in conjunction with the development of clocks influenced how we think and feel time. Time became mechanized, and now computers are lost without their clock. The assumption that time, as we see it governing our lives, allows us to structure future, present and past (in that order) is a political tool, for better and worse. Music on the other hand allows moments to be experienced apart from the pressure of future, present and past – even though music plays explicitly with that triad and may be composed, improvised or performed as an intricate structure that integrates on a conscious level all scales of time: 0.1 milliseconds, 5 seconds, 3 minutes, 45 minutes or a few hours.