An Eternal Harmelody of Adams
For time is not a successive appearance of independent "nows," or "points of time." Rather, it is a serial unfolding of past--> present--> future, in which the past anticipates the future and the future recalls and retains the past. Again, one cannot understand time -- or history -- by isolating a single point of it, any more than one can understand a melody by hearing one of its notes.
But since postmodern secular man is not in real time, where is he? Good question. I would suggest that he is in the same place existentially as is the contemporary pop music listener aesthetically, which is to say, "nowhere." I have no idea what's in the Top Thirty these days, but I'm pretty sure you won't find much beauty.
Now, if time is indeed a melody -- or, to be precise, if music is the image of time -- then we should expect time to have all of the same fundamental qualities as music, which include melody (the horizontal component), harmony (the vertical component), and rhythm (the repetitive, containing, or "boundary giving" component).
Modern man doesn't lack for rhythm, except that the beat is either jagged and inhuman on the one hand -- dragging him along by the ear with it -- or as boring as a nine-to-five-to sixty five to the grave necronome on the other.
Nor does he lack for melody, except that the melodies are either trite and sacharrine, or overly "free," verging on not being melodies at all, just a succession of notes with no internal consistency.
What man really lacks of the time element is harmony, and it is harmony that lends music its richness and its depth. Now, transferred to the human plane, to what could harmony be the analogue?
The first thing that comes to mind is tradition, especially the deep tradition of the orthodox revelations, through which man resonates at the same frequency as millions of other living souls, past, present and future. Ultimately one resonates with the first man and the last, or Adam and Christ. Compare this to metaphysical Darwinism, in which one resonates only with an animal and ultimately material past.
In other words, in the case of the Judeo-Christian stream, the harmonic tradition extends back to the dawn of man as we know him -- but really, to the (vertical) origin of the cosmos. To say in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, is analogous to the da-da-da-DUMMM that enunciates Beethoven's fifth and keeps coming 'round until it is resolved.
Thus, when we harmonize with this tradition, we are still our own note or chord, so to speak, except that it is given a kind of infinite meaning by being situated in the vast cosmic Symphony of Man. Here again, ritual, prayer, meditation -- these are all specific ways of adding a voice to the celestial choir of temporal resonance.
Now, the beat -- the rhythm -- is exceptionally important in these meters. As alluded to above, meter involves repetition, containment, and boundaries. Without it, we could not "think" musically, since it would involve one endless display of novelty, with no breaks (i.e., boundaries) or patterns. A beat is like a unit of time that allows us to think about it.
Transfered to the human plane, this means that we live in various natural rhythms, i.e., the day, season, year, developmental stage, etc. This is how we can say that all Sundays -- or Christmases, or Springs, or Weddings, or Adolescences -- are the same, and yet different. Thanks to rhythm, we have retention with variation. And of course, we can all add in our own groovy little syncopations in order to make life swing. Now that I haven't been blogging every day, I've noticed how the whole thing depended on being locked into a certain rhythm. I'm guessing that most creative people find this to be true, at least if the creativity is to last.
Time is motion, or movement. This is why the ears in general and music in particular are so ideally suited to disclose it. Interestingly, Zuckerkandl observes that "A God enthroned beyond time in timeless eternity would have to renounce music," because "temporal omnipresence would make the revelation of audible beauty impossible."
Imagine what temporal omnipresence would be like: you would hear all the notes of, say, a Mozart symphony, except all played simultaneously instead of in succession. Just one eternally cacophonous OMMMMMMMMMMMM going out and returning to itself. In fact, there wouldn't even be enough time for OM, just OOOOOOOOOOOOOO..... Or O. And O would literally have no content.
But -- and we will have more to say about this later -- if God is not one but three (or three-in-one), then this has definite implications for the Cosmic Symphony, for it means that there is an intrinsic time element in the Godhead. After all, no matter how you play it, it takes some kind of time for the Father to give birth to the Son, even if it's a timeless time. I don't intend to start an argument, but it can't be literal timelessness, or it could never "happen." And this is the position of non-dualism, that "nothing happens" in God. Rather, there is no time, no individual self, no nothing, just a static eternity, compared to which everything else -- including notions of Trinity or personal God -- are illusion.
The Christian God is clearly not monistic, i.e., a "simple one." But nor is reality dualistic, i.e., God and creation. Rather, a key point, both for man and music, is that God is trimporphic. That being the case, perhaps the trimorphism of music can tell us something about the interior of God.
And when we say "interior," we mean this literally. Again, as Zuckerkandl notes, the eyes reveal the exterior of things, while the ears reveal the interior. Remember, a mere tone can be situated in the external world, but a melody cannot be. But nor is the melody simply on the side of neurology, since the tune-deaf person hears the identical notes, but not the melody.
Therefore, melody -- which is the meaning of the notes -- is the quintessential example of something that occurs only in the mysterious transitional space, the psychic third where everything -- everything -- meaningful actually takes place.
Indeed, one cannot even say that the the most stubborn external fact exists in the absence of this transitional space, for without it, we wouldn't even know what was important. Rather, everything would be of equal importance, which is another way of saying that there would be no facts. To say "fact" is to say "value" is to connect the dots is to sing a melody, however insipid or profound. And suffice it to say that the left specializes in destroying harmony and insisting that all melodies are arbitrary.
To be continued....