Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Edward Said on untimely art

As part of a piece I'm working on right now, I've been thinking quite a bit about what might be called temporal interpenetration, a kind of "thickness" of time that seems to adhere to certain objects and works of art, complexly enfolding history, the present, and the promise of futurity. This quote from Edward Said, taken from an essay that seems to have Nietzsche's Untimely Meditations in its unconscious, strikes me as an especially eloquent articulation of how something can be historical and yet multitemporal:

Beethoven's late works, according to Solomon, exude a new sense of private striving and instability that is quite different from earlier works such as the "Eroica" Symphony and the five piano concertos that address the world with self-confident gregariousness. The masterpieces of Beethoven's final decade are late to the extent that they are beyond their own time, ahead of it in terms of daring and startling newness, later than it in that they describe a return or homecoming to realms forgotten or left behind by the relentless forward march of history.

Edward Said, "Untimely Meditations" (review of Maynard Solomon, Late Beethoven)


Anonymous said...

Please pardon the fact that this comment has nothing or very little to do with this entry, but I simply must tell you this:
Thank you ever so much for writing an article about The Knight of the Cart that is actually interesting.

With my most sincere gratitude,
An English major

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Wow, I don't know what else to say but thanks -- I'm very happy to hear the piece was non-boring!