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4.10.2006

if that's what you choose 

"That's what made me realize something about the nature of phonographs: they admit no ending. They imply perpetuity.

All this seems far from our usual concerns with the hardware of sound reproduction. But then again, speculating on endlessness may be getting at the purposive essence of all this electronic gadgetry — its "telos," as the Greeks would say. In the perennial rebirth of music through recordings, something of life itself steps over the normal limits of time."


This is a quote from an article written by Hans Fantel in 1989. To find out who he is and what he is referring to, click here. It's a wonderfully written article, and hits on one of the most compelling ideas about classical music.

It also does something else, which is what I want to write about. As this delicious Victrola coffee courses through my system, I think perhaps the caffeine is causing me to make some connections that may take a bit of explanation.

Just a few days ago, I rambled a bit about folk music and why it is important to me in the abstract, tangible way that it is. The key idea that I have been thinking about ever since was the word "temporality." And I don't think I even came close to explaining what I meant; I chose instead to bet on the reader's instinctual understanding. I hope that worked, even if just a little bit.

For both Mr. Fantel and me, temporality is exquisite proof of something to wonder at, something to revere. Its exposure through musical events seems to have affected us in a similar manner; at least, I read what he wrote and feel a sort of kindred experience. For me, it had to do with folk music and for him it had to do with technology. None of this matters of course, because underneath it I see a larger framework- the human desire for immortality. Not that you can defy time - but you can perceive an existence of things outside of the standard rules that it imposes. That sense of perception is many things: fulfilling, thrilling, intimidating.

I begin to see that it's possible that concepts like History, Past, Future are not things that definitely exist. In high school, we used to hate it when our tests were "cumulative"; it meant that we had to remember everything we'd learned for the whole year, instead of just that unit or semester. At the time, it seemed ridiculous that the teachers expected us to know all that. Now, I see it was ridiculous that the students believed they could just move on.

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