Below is the text, made on the morning of Easter Saturday, April 4th 2015, that (together with a projection of images, a short video, the sounds of the recording of my String Quartet with Windows, open, and the huge metal doors pulled to let in the avenue Parmentier) constituted the Elastic Lecture that I gave in the afternoon of that same Saturday at La Générale, as part of the program of the third and final part of Nadège Derderian's L’i-m-a-g-e E-s-t U-n O-b-j-e-t E-l-a-s-t-i-q-u-e. You can read about the first part in the previous entry, Mal-là--colisé dans l'espace et dans le temps.
Namhee Kwon's Nr. 2 is on the cover of the documentary Bandcamp recording of the 16th unPublic, which took also place at La Générale and immediately followed L’i-m-a-g-e E-s-t U-n O-b-j-e-t E-l-a-s-t-i-q-u-e.
april 17, 2015.
La Générale, April 4th 2015
Because Namhee wrote down my name in the Cité des Arts, only a few days ago. Because, therefore. Therefore I dedicate this lecture to Namhee.
Parts of the lecture are about my String Quartet with windows, open, that some of you may have heard of, or even may have heard parts of. It is a very long string quartet. Because, therefore. Therefore it lasts 24 hours.
In another, yet precise, sense it goes on forever: the String Quartet never really starts. Because and therefore it never really stops.
Late one summer course's afternoon in Kürten during his composition seminar Karlheinz Stockhausen sat at a small table on the stage set up in the local sports hall fervently pushing the buttons of an electronic calculator. Because he wanted to check some numbers related to the structure of the work he was analysing, a part of his opera Mittwoch. But he couldn’t get it right. Little beads of perspiration glimmered on his forehead, there was a frown, and he seemed very, very worried.
Until he suddenly smiled, put down the calculator and exclaimed: "Ach so, I see! This is very interesting! It must have been one of those moments that I just opened up the windows..."
The String Quartet with windows, open interweaves the rolling waves of violin sounds (always different, but also always the same), with the waves of traffic that - between two sets of traffic lights - are washing up and down the road along my house, evolving with the passing of a 24 hour day, with the seasons and changes in the weather.
When I open up the windows, I hear left-right the future that turns intoresent into present before my eyes.
When I cross the road and look to the West on a not too hazy day I can see the Eiffel Tower sticking out at the far other end of our city.
An image that is endlessly mapinaluble.
Agimes maybe lessendly manupilated.
[ * ]
"Vuow je hednan, Hidenrk!" gebood de priester met een zware preekstem, waar iets jachtigs in doorklonk, "dat de Hree in je vrae …"
"Ik heet Hen-rik, vader," fluisterde ik beschroomd, "zonder déé."
Pater Augustinus scheen het niet te horen. Hij zei het nog een keer: "Vuow je hejdnas, Hidenrk … Je hbet er je acahandt neit bij, jegnon! Hejdnas zjin er om te veuwon, in gbeed. Hidenrk, hoor je wat ik zeg?"
Ik hoorde hem.
Ik deed mijn ogen dicht.
[ * ]
Easter Saturday is a strange day.
Had I been born to grow up a Christian theologian, I would have spent much of my life studying this day.
I would have written learned books about it.
For this is the one day on which all agree that God is dead and buried.
Oh, how the boy bleeds!
Who had been so mercilessly thrown!
Intending NOT, God came upon a very pretty picture.
And all Bull’s boiling good sense, enough to an amused smile…
But I am not a theologian.
(Not a theologician, even.)
[ ** ]
Professor Doktor Doktor was a theologian.
He also wore very nice suits.
"And I always bring my flat-iron, yes," he told me. His voice thundered like a baritone saxophone. "Because it is an expensive tissue. Of course you can fold it, no problem. But just in case. You know how things are: when you take the iron, you will find there is no need for it. But if you do not, it is pli-selon-pli...
Fold upon fold.
Things are like that."
[ ** ]
In the April 2015 edition of the online music magazine Perfect Sound Forever, Daniel Barbiero discusses the String Quartet with windows, open as an example of what he calls 'Porous Music', a term that suggests music like an Emmental cheese, full of holes.
'Porous Music' are audio objects that come with "substantial passages of negative space, in which the intentional and the accidental are interwoven to the point where music and ambient sound are mutually interpenetrating, without necessarily prioritizing one over the other," Daniel writes. "The String Quartet with windows, open reorders, reverses and eventually collapses the relationship between hearing and listening and is something of an audio Necker cube, in that the relationship it facilitates between listening and overhearing is inherently unstable."
"The hierarchy of field and figure cannot hold as background sounds move to the foreground and vice versa; one minute we're listening to the violin quartet, and the next minute we're overhearing it as our attention shifts to the sounds outside. The relationship is unstable because it balances on a paradox that the String Quartet deliberately sets up: the paradox of taking unintended, contingent sounds and intending that they become the necessary object of the listener's attention."
[ ** ]
When I got back to Haus Homburg all was silent. Inside the lights had been switched off. There were just the lanterns outside, along the driveway, and further on, behind the main building, in the garden next to the pool, there was one lamp still burning.
I walked towards the table and chairs.
The lamp shone its still light over the water.
I turned off the lamp and then looked up to the sky.
All of those stars!
I spotted a reddish one, flickering.
That had to be Mars!
And that real really bright one, that would be the Dog Star.
"Please God, let one fall now!" I whispered.
Then I closed my eyes and I counted the numbers.
And when I opened them up again, yeah, sure that a star then did fall. It appeared right up over that there tree, with a sudden bright flash, coming down in a bow.
"Maybe one day," I thought.
"Maybe one day we’ll live on Mars.
One day maybe we’ll dig canals.
Maybe some day there’ll be time.
Maybe some day things will change.
Some day maybe."
[ ** ]
If, relatively to some frame of reference that we have ascertained as moving itself, two things move with equal velocities but in opposite directions, we will usually find that their speeds are unequal. Except in the case that this speed equals the fundamental velocity.
It is just our good fortune that light travels with this fundamental velocity, Sir Eddington writes in one of his books. For it would be a mistake to suppose that light’s speed is responsible for the prominence accorded to this fundamental velocity in nature’s geometric scheme. [ *** ]
notes __ ::
(*) From: Kroonduivenslijm, episode 18 of the serial fiction 'Henrik Henegouws Hellevaart', which I wrote in the early 1990s (under the pen name J. K. Harsman) for the (defunct) Dutch online magazine 'Writersblock'. Kroonduivenslijm was written in November 2004 (I think). The text also appeared in 'Cut-up Magazine', another (defunct) Dutch online magazine. [ ^ ]
(**) From: Mars and Other Stars, a novella that I wrote in Gavarnie between 1 and 3 September 2001. The first of the two fragments is from Mosquitoes, an extract from Mars and Other Stars that was published, in 2004, by the (defunct) Canadian online literary magazine 'Woodenfish'. [ ^ ]
(***) A.S. Eddington, The Mathematical Theory of Relativity. Chelsea Publishing, New York 1975 [ ^ ]
tags: elastic, elasticity, lecture, string quartet, sqwwo
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