Note pertaining to art in/as time.

by waxbanks

‘Music is a technology for regulating the movements of animal bodies.’ I wrote that, and I almost believe it — though I have trouble fully believing anything anyone writes, yes absolutely including myself. And by ‘movements’ of course I mean not only hips and lips but flows at a larger scale: the self-circling movement of the flock. Groove is what inorganic matter (the room, the air between our animal bodies, the wax cylinder on the phonograph) has instead of what we call ‘memory,’ and rhythmic pulse guides us into that groove, a literal older way, an inherited instruction set applicable at scale. Harmonic pulse too, both mnemonic (for remembering lyrics, though also vice versa) and complex desire-map.

(I’m listening now to a recording of Miles’s band doing ‘Honky Tonk’ at the Cellar Door in 1970, Jarrett moving in sly circles around the inexorable slow pulse of the bass guitar, harmonic information flowing across smooth stone surface while a rhythmic channel carves away a deepening straight line beneath…)

Music’s an adhesive, and please note by the way that ‘cohere’ and ‘adhere’ mean two related but different things. It acts on our will, pulling rather than pushing; and we/our bodies respond to, or in some complex sense are manifestations of, that will. And it does so according, lossily, to the intentions of its makers. They are parts of the mind the music brings us into contact with, and that mind’s desires are encoded — mapped — in the work; the music gives us more direct access to that desire than any other technology, which is why every culture that’s ever existed has reinvented music according to its own desires. (Now the directness of the sax solo — Grossman? Bartz? I can never remember, damn it — fulfills the contract established by Jarrett’s polytonal keyboard fantasy. Blues music is a cultural technology of survival, the man says.)

Art is a machine for inducing psychotropism at a distance.

And if you can get from that pronunciamento to ‘action at a distance’ as a partial definition of ‘magic,’ well, I’m right there with you.