This website comes to light as an offshoot of my PhD dissertation (ACPA Leiden 2020). Below I offer a summary.
Musika: The Becoming of an Artistic Musical Metaphysics
“Music is about everything else,” theater director Peter Sellars asserted upon accepting his Polar Music Prize back in 2014. Although it is about particular musical problems, my dissertation is about ‘everything else’, too. What and how that is, could be summed up in different ways depending on one’s orientation and distance to the explored object. Below I consider three of these ways.
My work is a contribution to the philosophical study of music and to musical ontology. Within musicology, it makes an input to the discourse on musical meaning. With the presumption that consciousness is fundamental, the thesis I put forth is that music is a form of consciousness, which evolves in a mutualistic relationship with sentients in order to gain experience and to grow. This anthropo-de-centric proposition unsettles the established view on music as a (human) artifact and opens a space for a reconsideration of the construct ‘the music itself’. In this space, ‘music’ is recognized as a blanket term appropriately used by musickers in the phenomenal world to describe events, works and activities based in intentionally organized sound. These very connotations render the term ‘music’ inadequate to designate a larger form of consciousness. Therefore, I introduce Musika and define it as a superset of music, as a mode of logic and organization of a yet larger information system, one which evolves sound-based forms and intelligences. Musika has different laws and constraints than those operating in our Physical Matter Reality, and is populated by entities, haecceities and geographies that are uniquely characteristic of it. To ease orientation in the landscape thus conceived, I discriminate between musical entities according to their involvement with sentients (like us), introducing new concepts, like the Musikon or the Individuated Unit of Musical Consciousness, and discussing newly emerged tensions, like that between the Musinculus and the Musical. Musical meaning is considered an energetic aspect of the event of the Musical assemblage – the virtual territory where all actors in the musical drama meet and share an experience.
From a more distant and more general point of view, my thesis emerges through a comparative study of becomings in physics, philosophy, psychology, and linguistics, arguing that the processes, structures and problems in music are extensions and local interpretations of a fundamental Implicate order that underlies and manifests across all fields, disciplines, substrates, and levels of engagements. Viewed as a reality in itself, Musika evolves its sound-based content and expression within the principles that are at work in our carbon-based universe, too. Zooming out further still, it could be said that my research explores patterns and protocols in both virtual and actual realities – in biology, stories, behavior, music, thinking, language, in being and becoming. These patterns trace a single commandment: try everything, allow what works, and have a single mission: lower entropy, increase organization. From such a big picture perspective, music, with all its interrelated systems, environments, theory and practice, is a way to organize and mediate reality, to integrate information, to create meaning.
A step closer to the object of my research would reveal its focus on my private relations, experiences and struggles with music as an agent of meaning in my personal and artistic life. The proposition that music is a sub-system mediating a larger reality able to create a myriad of sub-systems, suggests that where attention should be placed on is not the ‘message’ as such, but on the medium (“the medium is the message”). As long as it is the medium that uniquely constrains, organizes and brings forth integrated meaning packaged as ‘the message’, I intentionally examine my musical medium, the piano, and the way it has framed my understanding not only of music, but of reality. I argue that the role one’s instrument plays in one’s relating to music, is not only crucial, but fundamental. In fact, it is in the practice of the medium where music and man meet and start a relationship – the physical medium, that is. However ‘magical’, ‘soulful’, ‘spiritual’ and ‘ineffable’, the consciousness of the Music work we love, obsess and write about is only able to reach us through our flesh and bones, cells and chemicals, particles and corporeal electromagnetic configurations. To us, without the physical, there is no musical, without profanation there is no transcendental, without the effable, there is no ineffable.
To conclude, this is an opus about music manifested in and through consciousness, and about consciousness manifested in and through music. It explores how music and consciousness trace the same fundamental process of evolution and construct information-based realities. Simultaneously, my dissertation is an exercise in creating a personal ontology based in world-hearing and musicologica – a music-informed understanding of world and man.
Leiden, October 2020
Assemblage: One of the main concepts in A Thousand Plateaux (1980) by Deleuze and Guattari. The assemblage (from French agencement) is often described as the dynamic side of a whole vs the static one, the territory. It is a “becoming that brings elements together” (Wise 2005: 91) – a compound symbiotic collective becoming that negotiates variables (Deleuze and Guattari 2013: 116), whose parts are characterized by relation of exteriority. Enfolding the unconscious in person (Ibid.: 41), the assemblage sits on the top of a Body without Organs.
Becoming: Another concept of Deleuze and Guattari’s. Becoming is a process of change or movement within an assemblage. It is a new way of being, influenced by other’s feature, capacity or characteristic. Rooted not in imitation or resemblance, but in influence and attraction. Always creative, becomings are exploring potentials and have destratifying tendencies.
Body without Organs: A major concept of Deleuze and Guattari. It is the ground of reality pre-formation. The BwO is a virtual plenum, imbibed by a range of intensities, like speeds, consistencies, vibrations, dynamics, pressures; it is embodied in lines and curves, jumps and smoothnesses. The BwO is characterized by high entropy, there are no structures and organizations that can be articulated within it. It is potential. It is the absolute limit you never reach, where you hang on a blade of grass to break through or break down. I see the BwO as portal between reality frames.
Explicate Order: A concept of David Bohm’s. In 1980 he publishes his book The Implicate Order where he describes the two-fold nature of reality, each part ruled by Orders Bohm calls Explicate and Implicate. The Explicate Order governs the Newtonian universe of physical matter and objects, phenomena, parts, and ‘immutable laws.’ The Explicate Order abstracts events and things into actuality, only to enfold them back into the flow of the virtual Implicate Order.
Holomovement: A concept of Bohm’s, the holomovement is “the fundamental ground of all matter” (Bohm and Peat 1987: 180). Bohm conceives of it as is an unbroken undivided totality, where its forms merge and are inseparable; it is the interplay between the Implicate and Explicate Order. What is is the holomovement, everything is to be explained in terms of forms derived from it.
Implicate Order: An ontological concept of Bohm’s, along with the Explicate Order. Bohm considers the Implicate Order a deeper and more fundamental order of reality, out of which explicate events and forms are unfolded, or abstracted. It is the ground of consciousness. Made not of parts and objects, but of nonlocal moments, which like holograms contain the whole within, the Implicate Order is characterized by a whole unbroken movement; here, space and time are not fundamental, but are derivatives.
Moments: Moments are the ‘building blocks’ of the Implicate Order of Bohm’s. “A moment cannot be precisely related to measurements of space and time, but rather covers a somewhat vaguely defined region which is extended in space and has duration in time”(Bohm 2002: 263). As each moment is not entirely localizable, events are allowed to overlap, and are being connected, enfolded, in an Implicate Order. Each moment is enfolded (i.e. folded inwards) in the total structure and contains it within.
Musical: It is a concept I develop in this dissertation as the ‘consciousness of music’. It is referred to as the ‘music that is not in the score’, ‘the magical side of music’, or the ‘ineffable’, as opposed to the ‘music that is in the score’, ‘the scientific side of music’, the Musinculus, the ‘gnostic.’ The Musical is a form of consciousness organization that emerges through the physical ‘elements of music’ but is not itself perceived as physical.
Musical meaning: Questions of how music, and especially instrumental music, means anything, being the non-representational art/activity that it is, as well as question of said meaning’s location, have long concerned music scholars. Central to musicology and to musicologica, the problem of musical meaning is at the heart of my dissertation, too. Whether musical meaning is a purely subjective construction, whether it is socially and contextually contingent, emergent in performance or all of the above, is a matter of discussion and fine-tuning.
Musicking: A term proposed by Christopher Small in his eponymous book from 1998. The essence of music, Small maintains, lies not in musical works as such but in taking part in performance, in social action. Music is regarded as a verb. ‘To music’ is to take part in any capacity in a musical performance. The core of musicking lies in the relationships between the participants.
Musicologica: The term was coined by Jaap Kunst in his eponymous book from 1950, but became more popular in musicological circles through Menezes Bastos’ research from 1978 on Amazonian tribe Kamayurá’s phono-auditory system. Musicologica has been defined as the musical dimension of being, as world-hearing, as modes of thought about music as well as through music.