Time can be defined as a succession of events.
We framed our lives within hours, days, months and years. Yet, only the conscious mind is capable of understanding this impalpable phenomenon. We know that day is lightness and night is darkness, no matter the context. Even if you don’t like change, time passes (as an absolute), and there’s no way to stop your constant evolution or the certainty of new ways of understanding your existence.
“Linear time is oppressive,” said Moor Mother once following the Black Quantum Futurism theory. Similar realities can and are happening at the same time all the time: imagine the possibilities of rewriting your life. For Buddhist philosophy, time is subjective because it depends upon our consciousness to acknowledge it. Time does not have a real presence; it belongs to the relative truth of the world that we experience.
When thinking of time and the end of cycles, it is based on my level of truth. 2020, with its unusual development, represents for me the culmination of a whole year of EMDR therapy. I also decided to resign from the place where I lived for six years and move to a new flat –leaving behind a space full of painful memories. I feel that during these intermediate states -of lockdown and controlled-freedom-, I’ve outgrown people and circumstances too.
For me, everything contains some sort of symbolism. People, places and situations are always able to teach you something. As Shevek, the main character of Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Dispossessed”, states in one chapter: “The thing about working with time, instead of against it, that is not wasted. Even pain counts.” So, if all changes occur at the same time, I see it as a way to free myself from old structures to embrace new possibilities.
Henry Bergson goes more in-depth: “Consciousness cannot go through the same state twice. The circumstances may still be the same, but they will no longer act on the same person since they find her at a new moment in her history—our personality, which is built up each instant with its accumulated experience, changes without ceasing. By changing, it prevents any state, although superficially identical with another, for every repeating it in its very depth. That’s why our duration is irreversible.”
Sound as possibilities are endless
Now that I immerse in this new time/space, I need to start over or, better, to create new patterns. My therapist decided to refer me to her mentor because she believes that her time helping me has reached an end. She even wrote me a goodbye letter – a letter that made me sob uncontrollably. In my reality, this means placing myself in a different timeline to begin -again- to understand who I am and to try an alternative approach to my subconscious journey.
Same happens with the flat. After six years of living in the same place, moving signifies and contains many variables. This new wooden floor squeaks in some areas when you step on it; the light comes in at 8:00 am every morning; the building is located in the city centre, and its walls are full of cracks. One way that has helped me to settle in has been to summon the sounds of my surroundings to create some guidance that allows me to recognise this new path. It is about to own this inhabited space.
I decided to do this after reading “The Compositional Possibilities are Endless“, an essay by Else Marie Pade. Another of the great avant-garde composers of the twentieth century along with Éliane Radigue, Pauline Oliveros, and Beatriz Ferreyra, among others. She is one of the most important Danish experimental music composers of recent years (despite not been recognised as such in her native Denmark until two decades ago). Else is another pillar of my love for the avant-garde and sound experimentation.
When Else was a little kid, she often suffered from pyelonephritis. This condition made her stay in bed for long periods of time and develop, unintentionally, her interest in concrete music. In her essay, she recalls this experience: “I learned very quickly that some of the sounds came at a particular time in a particular order – every day. I also learned that during the day, the sun could make the birds sing, while the moon could not make the stars say anything, although it looked as though they would like to. So then, I decided to give the stars some sounds of their own. I formed tiny little tingly sounds with my lips and the Man on the moon, whom I firmly thought I could see, laughed back at me – deep, friendly laughter.”
Her work includes deep sound experimentation linked to that fantastic vision of concrete music, that was framed by what she learned working with Schaeffer, Stockhausen and Boulez. The fifties and sixties bring together her most outstanding works such as “Circles of Sevenths”, “Faust Suite” (one of my favourites), “Etude I” and “Symphonie Magnétophonique” (Symphony for tape), composed with Sven Drehn-Knudsen, depicting a 24-hour day of concrete sounds in the city of Copenhagen. The piece can be followed as an orchestral score with sections: Morning, Noon, Afternoon and Night. A symphony that “comes full circle to start a new day.”
How does my new life sound?
To understand my role in this new reality and not being engulfed by linear timing and oppressive routines, I chose to do my own “Symphonie Magnétophonique” as a ritual to establish a relationship with this new territory. It displays some sounds that are now part of my conscious reality: the coffee maker, the microwave, church bells or the trash truck that cross my street every night at 23:00. There are also birds, the rain, the sea, a woman singing and an orchestra playing in front of the cathedral. You can listen to the recording below:
From time to time, I like to recount my memories, although remembering those things now has nothing to do with what happened in that particular space/time frame. In dreams, there is no time, and the circumstances and results are interchangeable. Even at the beginning of our life, we aren’t able to experience or appreciate time. Despite that, we like to frame our existence in those terms and talk about cycles, as nature does. We just tend to be more reluctant to let go of things that no longer serve us.
Uncertainty has a particular taste, and the reinvention of the self is often linked to that notion of finitude. Depending on your circumstances, doing certain things or making specific decisions may be too late. But what if linear time is, indeed, oppressive and we could start understanding it and embrace it in terms of our inner truth? What would be our conception of the self and identity if we could deconstruct it and reinvent it infinitely as if we were in a dream?