What is an experience once it is no longer “present”? What is a conversation once the words have escaped due to the passage of this force we call time?
The question seems so amateur, and in a sense I hate that I have to go back to asking it. At the same time, though, it seems a bit essential. I think of mortality in two ways, the mortality of the lifespan of the individual organism or whole population of organisms and the mortality that each individual faces constantly, every moment as our experiences escape us and remain only as fragmented traces in our personal and collective (transactive or trans-personal) memory.
I have become a bit preoccupied with this task of defining the concept of time as I experience it, to the best of my honest capability to relay it merely as it is, to me. Ever since I was a child, I found the puzzle of passing moments to be overwhelming. I felt this anxiety to retain my experiences, and I think we all feel that anxiety for the “mortality” of each of our experiences. There is of course a cultural fascination with the written word, photographs, and other physical representatives of experience (or “artifacts of moments”, as I often describe them) that provide evidence for their reality.
I keep thinking that so much of our experience is governed by movement, by the sense of our bodies (embodiment) in moments. I once defined time as the effect of motion on space, and I had this elaborate theory about it; truth be told, I have mostly forgotten that theory. Regardless, this experience is characterized by the interaction between our organism and the environment in a symbiotic system, mutually affecting the other constantly. Experience is interactive; it is constituted by the flow of the individual organism with the environment or perhaps relative to the environment. No one really understands what a moment is once it is no longer accessible by the body, via movement, once the moment is back and back far beyond proximal and temporal range. I think that too much emphasis is placed on memory, as though it is the ultimate destination for all of our experiences. We are constituting the world with every new experience; it is not merely our memories that establish our experiences, but a world constantly permeating with our experiences.
I think part of humans’ fascination with music is that it provides a collective tunnel for memories to be accessed at any point in one’s life. For me, memory has always been a very elusive phenomenon in a lot of ways. Although I recall visual details from my childhood and life and I can recall the tonality and vocal characteristics of my voice and others’ in conversations, it is really the feeling of the memory that effects me the most. When I listen to a song that I have associated with moments and feelings and experiences, those emotions wrap my up in this beautiful state of connectedness with my past selves. I have no idea who I was as a child, or as a sixteen-year-old, etc., but all of those parts of me can resonate through a tune in a song. Music allows for a shortcut to embracing unifying patterns in my self.
One thought on “Music, Moments, Experience.”
Is this why we play music at a funeral? To bring back to life shared moments, to push against the very mortality that confronts us. Is music our gateway to time as merely another dimension? Is it what shows that all of time is always? If that is so, is mortality a mere illusion?