the fat time and the thin time.

the fat time and the thin time.

there is nothing more abstract than reality.” (morandi)

three painters – art as an enquiry into the nature of reality

Zurbaran
In the history of art we know the old and venerable traditions of landscape painting and of stillife. Painters who belong to these traditions of painting try to confine themselfes to represent the given. They are not eager to create new realities but they aim at thourougly seeing what is to be seen without trying to interpret it or to add additional meaning. They try to see piercingly to the very heart of reality as it is. Zurbarans paintings give you the impression that they are depicting a particular event only as an excuse to paint daily life objects. The painted objects and the clothing are not used as decoration or as means to help telling a story. Just the opposite: The saint or the monk are painted only to have a good reason for painting the true object of interest, that is the texture and colour of the monk`s robe. The profane and banal objects of daily life, the white cloth, the bowls and cups are transformed by Zurbarans artistic power into something sublime. What makes Zurbaran’s paintings works of sacred art is not their subject (e.g. the legend of a saint) but the artistic and formal power of Zurbaran. In the act of concentration and contemplation on these simple objects to the utmost simple and mundane things are transformed into a gate to the realm of the sublime. Referring to Francisco de Zurbaran`s stilllife paintings the seemingly contradictory term of mystical realism was coined.

Morandi
In his art the great italian Painter Giorgio Morandi has never left his closest surroundings / enviroment. Throughout the span of his whole life he never painted anything else but the bowles, pots, cups, vases  etc. he had arranged in his studio. Nothing interesting, hidden, deeply significant or complex but the most obvious is the principal subject of all his paintings. Morandis’ cups and bowles do not tell any stories, they are neither symbols nor metaphors for philosophical ideas. They are simply what they are: cups and bowls painted in sober intensity.

Mondrian
I assume that since there are human beings they have known black lines and rectangles and primary colours. Nevertheless the dutch painter Piet Mondrian managed to find a way to use these to the utmost basic and banal materials to create an artistic form that turned the perception of these black lines and rectangles and primary colours into a new experience. He saw the most simple and best known as something fresh and new and shared this new and unique view with us in his art. And I think that this defines great art and artists and is a similarity with the world of science and scientists: a new scientific discovery is also nothing else but a new vista on already known phenomena.  There is no prescribed method or preferred material to find a new way of seeing – any approach, any tradition of music or thought can be useful and helpful to broaden our view.
*
Following the above mentioned painters we could say that the actual and intrinsic object of art is the experience of light through our eyes, or we could say the act of percieving or the act of seeing space and colour is the true object of visual art.

Cage
When we think about music we could say as an analogy that the experience of time experienced through listening is the actual object of music. And it is not by chance that the title of one of the most important pieces of music of the 20th century is a duration: 4’33”
Time as the actual material of a composer becomes in this piece of music the only “theme” of music. 4’33” is music seen as pure duration. Sound is nothing but the breathing of time made audible. The coningent content of this piece of music is like in still-lives the acoustical everyday objects. They are neither interpreted nor charged with psychology. For me this experience of time through listenening is the root of and the key to the very core of what music is. With this piece John Cage shatters the traditional notion of  “work of art” in a sense that Cage defines a piece of art neither by it’s content nor is it the creator of the piece of art that determins or even influences the character of a piece of music. The only thing that remains untouched is the form: 4″33″ has a fixed duration and a formal structure in three movements.
*
Looking at music in a sober and empirical way one could say: what composers primarily do is organizing air or more precisely organizing the oszillation of its molecules. When enquiring thoroughly into the nature of sound waves one will find very significant and striking discontinuities in our perception: One phenonemon – sound waves or oszillating molecules of air – is percieved by us as completely different impressions using even different senses.
Oszillating air can be caught by our ears and percieved as sound, our skin can feel them as vibrations or as warmth etc.. Even when we concentrate on the field of acoustics we experience remarkable fractures in our perception: Sound waves are perceived either as periodic impulses or as pitch, depending on the speed of oszillation. The most fundamental difference between these phenomena is their temporality. It depends on time only which sense organ is used for a specific oszillation and to which kind of perception this leads. (rhythm or pitch) Thus we could say that when we use our ears to perceive something acoustically as sound, what we perceive is nothing else but time made audible. And exactly here my understanding of music starts: musical material is time perceived through sound, the object of music is the experience of time through listening. In my work I am not using sound, sound is explored and given the opportunity to unfold its inherent rich beauties. Music is not a means to convey extramusical contents, such as emotions, philosophical or religious ideas, political propaganda, advertisement etc… For me music is no language used to communicate non-musical content. Music is a free and selfstanding acoustical object. Music is like a snowflake or a cliff. (What do they want to tell us? What stories have the glaciers to impart?) The sounding, concrete “content” is like in a stilllife most elementary sounds of instruments (open strings, natural harmonics, long sustained notes, simple scales, glissandi, etc…): very simple acoustical objects that are neither interpreted nor psychologically or narratively charged. When exploring the very heart of instrumental sound by looking at it through a magnifying glass the already known and everyday sounds become again unknown und wild territories.
*
As I said: Time is the genuine material of the composer and at the same time also the fundamental content of music. I am trying to compose music which turns sound into the breathing of time made audible. I think that this is only possible when sound is just sound because only then it is percievable as that what it really is: a temporal phenomenon – audible time.
But again at this point yet another seemingly paradoxical discontinuity shows: When we enter through listening a state of pure presence, in which music becomes pure duration, we are leaving temporality. When time becomes pure presence it dissolves. Through listening time becomes eternity.
*
But what do we really mean when we are talking about “eternity” or “timelessness”? At first there seems to be nothing mysterious in these terms we use them in everyday life, we know them from mathematics and science. What actually happens when we are inquiering deeply in this term or notion of “eternity” the empirical content of this term seem to evaporate and is turned into a “deep” feeling.
Blaise Pascal wrtites: “The eternal silence of this infinite space gives me the shivers.” He can not really percieve infinite spaces or understand them rationally, it gives him the shivers, he reaches a deep emotional state. When we see the endless skies or listen to beautiful music we are gliding in this deep mental state of shiver which was called by Musil “der andere Zustand”. What is this state about? what kind of inner experience is it that we experience when entering this state outside of the realm of time?
*
Ja. Das heißt: irgendeine gewohnheitsmäßige Verwebung in uns zerreißt. Nichts Eßbares grast dann mehr; nichts Malbares; nichts versperrt dir den Weg. Du kannst nicht einmal mehr die Worte grasen oder weiden bilden […]. Was auf der Bildfläche bleibt, könnte man am ehesten ein Gewoge von Empfindungen nennen, das sich hebt und senkt oder atmet und gleißt, als ob es ohne Umrisse das ganze Gesichtsfeld ausfüllte. Natürlich sind darin auch noch unzählige einzelne Wahrnehmungen enthalten, Farben, Hörner, Bewegungen, Gerüche und alles, was zur Wirklichkeit gehört: aber das wird bereits nicht mehr anerkannt, wenn es auch noch erkannt werden sollte. Ich möchte sagen: die Einzelheiten besitzen nicht mehr ihren Egoismus, durch den sie unsere Aufmerksamkeit in Anspruch nehmen, sondern sie sind geschwisterlich und im wörtlichen Sinn <innig> untereinander verbunden. Und natürlich ist auch keine <Bildfläche> mehr da, sondern irgendwie geht alles grenzenlos in dich über.” (R. Musil, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften)

“That means some habitual woven fabric in us is torn. Nothing edible longer grazes; nothing picturesque, nothing is blocking your way. You can not even form the words graze or pasture […]. What remains on the scene, could be called a surging of sensations, that rise and fall or breathe and glisten. A Surging that fills the entire field of vision without outlines. […] And, of course there is no more scene, but somehow everything blends limitlessly into yourself.”
*

An Inquiry Into the Good
For Kitaro Nishida, experience in its original form is not the exercise of individuals who contact an exterior world; rather it precedes the differentiation into subject experiencing and object experienced. “The moment of seeing a color or hearing a sound” is prior not only to the thought that the color or sound is the activity of an external object or that one is sensing it, but also to the judgment of what the color or sound might be (Nishida 1990a, 3). “Pure experience” names not only the basic form of every sensuous and every intellectual experience but also the fundamental form of reality, indeed the “one and only reality” from which all differentiated phenomena are to be understood. Cognitive activities such as thinking or judging, willing, and intellectual intuition are all derivative forms of pure experience. But thoughts like “this is a piano” or “I am listening to a piano” are already reflections that show that the person thinking has already lost direct contact with reality.

*
In the “anderen Zustand” (“other state”) or the state of “pure experience” the “illusion” established by habit of both the solid objects and the substantial ego dissolves. This dissolution makes ​​possible the experience of what we call the “infinite” or timelessness. Disruption and “catharsis” triggered by deep art experiences are maybe caused by the fact that in the state of “pure experience” the everyday world view is shaken to its foundations by the experience of the “infinite” suddenly breaking in.
*
There is music that just wants to be itself. And the fact that it just wants to be itself, that it is not designed to express or trigger “deep feelings”  etc. makes it possible that this kind of art can become an object of “contemplation” that allows the listener to enter a state of clarity beyond thinking and feeling.
*
The constitution of the carthusians says: “The occupation of a true monk is more crying than singing. This is why we want to use our voices in a way that brings forth in our souls rather the inner happiness that comes from our tears than those movements of the soul evoked by the chords of harmonic music.
In order to achieve this we will extinguish anything that causes these intrinsically empty feelings and that is not absolutly necesarry.” In this quote a clear distinction between two kinds of inner movements is made: on the one hand is “inner happiness” on the other hand are “intrinsically empty feelings”.
*
Very similar musical techniques can be used to achieve completely different ends to create two entirely different types of music which seem to be quite similar at the first glance. On the one hand there is music that functions only as music, it is only an object you can listen to. On the other hand there is music as a means to achieve something different from music. A state of pure listening is sought only to replace the constituents of EGO by religion or ideology or deep feelings.
*
An example for this type of music is “die wogende Rückenmarksmusik des sächsischen Zauberers” (Musil MoE S.615) “the surging spinal music of the Saxon Sorcerer” (Musil MoE S.615) celebrated this year: Wagner tried to establish a inner state of just to fill it with racist pseudo-religious ideology of pure arian blood. In August 1859 Wagner writes to Mathilde Wesendonck:
Nun denken Sie, meine Musik, die mit ihren feinen, feinen, geheimnisvoll-flüssigen Säften durch die subtilsten Poren der Empfindung eindringt, um dort alles zu überwältigen, was irgend wie Klugheit und selbstbesorgte Erhaltungskraft sich ausnimmt, alles hinwegschwemmt, was zum Wahn der Persönlichkeit gehört und nur den wunderbar erhabenen Seufzer des Ohnmachtsbekenntnisses übrigläßt.

“Now think of my music that penetrates with its fine, delicate, mysterious, liquid juices by the most subtle pores of sensation in order to overcome anything that looks like prudence and self-concerned forces of conservation, sweeping away everything that belongs to the delusion of personality and just leaves the wonderfully sublime sigh of the confession of helplessness.”
*
But who is it who sighs his confession of helplessness? The “Ego” the “I” is not swept away it is replaced by a mixture of emotions and ideology. For me Wagner’s music works like a narcotic that is not leading to a state of pure listening but to a shady mixing of deep thoughts and deep feelings leads.

Friedrich Nietzsche writes in “Menschliches allzu Menschliches”: “Sie meinen, mit tiefen Gefühlen komme man tief ins Innere, nahe man sich dem Herzen der Natur. Aber diese Gefühle sind nur insofern tief, als mit ihnen, kaum merkbar, gewisse komplizierte Gedankengruppen regelmäßig erregt werden, welche wir tief nennen; ein Gefühl ist tief, weil wir den begleitenden Gedanken für tief halten. Aber der tiefe Gedanke kann dennoch der Wahrheit sehr ferne sein, wie zum Beispiel jeder metaphysische; rechnet man vom tiefen Gefühle die beigemischten Gedankenerlebnisse ab, so bleibt das s t a r k e Gefühl übrig, und dieses verbürgt nichts für die Erkenntnis als sich selbst, ebenso wie der starke Glaube nur seine Stärke, nicht die Wahrheit des geglaubten beweist.”
*
“They think, that with deep feelings you get deep inside, come close to the heart of nature. But these feelings are deep only insofar as regularly with them, barely noticeable, some complicated groups of thoughts which we call deep are excited. Feelings are deep, because we consider the accompanying thoughts being deep. But a deep thought may still be far away from truth, such as any metaphysical thought; if you deduce the admixed thoughtexperiences from deep feelings, what remains are strong feelings, and they guarantee nothing for the insight than themselves; In the same way the strong faith only proves its own strength, not the truth of the believed. ” (Nietzsche, “Menschliches allzu Menschliches”)
*

nothing special
The previously said can be summarized thus: There are two poles of the human mind, on the one hand rationality and on the other hand emotionality. They penetrate each other and together constitute the idea and the consciousness of an “ego”. And then there is what Musil called the “other state” or Nishida “pure experience”: The abandoning of those structures of thought that constitute the “ego” is a precondition to this way of experiencing reality which is a state beyond rationality and feelings. This state is a natural mode of perception of man (just think of the ability of young children to delve into their playing), the reference to Eastern and Western traditions was made to underline the elementary, basically human nature of this mode of perception that is indepandent from cultural backgrounds. This mode is often buried and for many people difficult to reach, but actually nothing special.