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boulez/deleuze: a relay of music and philosophy
Timothy S. Murphy
During the night of 4 November 1995, Gilles Deleuze leaped to his death from a window of his apartment in the seventeenth arrondissement of Paris. He had been very ill for several years, but only within the previous year had he been rendered truly "immobile," that is, unable to see friends or to write. In the days following his death, his friends and colleagues, including JeanFranpois Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy and Giorgio Agamben, wrote moving homages to him and his thought. On the evenings of 19 and 20 January 1996, Pierre Boulez conducted the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in a concert "en hommage a Gilles Deleuze" which included works by Stravinsky, Mahler, Bartok and Boulez himself. In the notes to that program, Boulez wrote these words: Gilles Deleuze is one of the very rare intellectuals who are profoundly interested in music. In 1978, he participated with Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault in a seminar organized by IRCAM on musical time, while he was himself engaged in the writing of A Thousand Plateaus. In a brilliant presentation he showed the acute and perspicacious manner in which he grasped the problems of musical composition and perception. In remembrance of this striking encounter, but also in homage to his thought - which has made many other territories fruitful - we dedicate this concert to him, our "errant companion" of many years. Boulez's concluding turn of phrase is not mere rhetorical embellishment. His path and Deleuze's crossed many times during the Seventies and Eighties, not only at the IRCAM seminar but also at the funeral of their mutual friend Foucault in June 1984 (where they were photographed together by Liberation). Deleuze refers to Boulez often in his works from 1977 onward, particularly in A Thousand Plateaus and The Fold. In those texts as well as in the essay that follows, Deleuze borrows and
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gilles deleuze BOULEZ, PROUST AND TIME "occupying without counting"
extends Boulez's concepts of smooth and striated space-time, relaying them through his own philosophy. Boulez acknowledged this relay process in an interview: I myself am not educated in philosophy, but I have forced myself to reflect upon compositional practice, and I have tried to arrive at a formulation of my ideas that is general enough to be accessible to others. What I wrote, for example, about the time of Wagner interested Deleuze; in this way my reflections could serve as a point of departure for a philosophical reflection.! The following essay, "Boulez, Proust and Time: 'Occupying Without Counting,"' demonstrates Deleuze's interest in Boulez's writing and music, and takes both as points of departure for a burst of philosophical creation that should itself be called a composition rather than a reflection. Deleuze's essay first appeared in Eclats I Boulez, a volume edited by Claude Samuel and published by the Editions du Centre Pompidou in 1986. It
" which allows the succession of points seen and the movement of point of view to dissolve in a block of transformation or duration. the transversal of all the parts. moves through free accidentals [alterations]. though a varied one. varying their speed and their slowness. jealousies. and is drawn at the same time as the block varies. the sole character. according to Boulez. enters into a continuous variation which assumes a new form of time for "musical entities. is called a diagonal in order to better mark the fact that it is reducible neither to the harmonic vertical nor to the melodic horizontal as pre-existent coordinates.2 Boulez has defined a great alternative: counting in order to occupy space-time.5 and thereby to pay homage to Wagner (even if Vinteuil is assumed to be very different from Wagner). The unity of the trip will be neither in the vertical views of the landscape. There is no general solution: in each case. Char. each time in different conditions. and makes the cuts pass between them. It is as if he knew him by "heart... proust and time: "occupying without counting" Gilles Deleuze oulez has often posed the problem of his relationships with writers and poets: Michaux.occupying without counting is translated and published here by permission of Madame Fanny Deleuze. if the continuous is defined by the cut. as it passes through variable speeds. which is not pre-existent. periods of sleep. appears in this way: constantly changing blocks of duration. individuations without identity. or occupying without counting. diminishing or augmenting.9 boulez. from polyphonic combinations. account for this alchemy. somewhat like a placard. but one of another nature.7 Does not the musical act par excellence." a "ceaselessly varying sonorous block. according to Proust. but it now becomes the sole landscape... producing sonorous blocks in series. Such a variable. the relations must be measured according to variable and often irregular measures. Isn't his link to Proust precisely of this second type: haunting or being haunted ("what do you want of me?"4). present throughout the Search. will be called a "block of duration. Proust is compelled to invoke Vinteuil's little phrase and music in order to Downloaded By: [Cornell University Library] At: 23:15 20 September 2010 B 70 . If it is true that the cut [coupure] is not the opposite of continuity. etc. passing through Beethoven's resolutions and Wagner's fusions of harmony and melody to Webern. though a changing one." And the autonomous dimension. consist in drawing the diagonal. one could say that the same gesture constructs the continuity of the literary text and the musical text." by will and by chance.3 Measuring in order to effect relations. And the musical composition of the Search. or filling relations without measure. a tacit. adding or subtracting. which is developed in the autonomous dimension of time. Mallarme. The motive was first associated with a landscape or a person."^ Proust's entire work is constructed in this manner: successive loves. abolishing every frontier between the horizontal and the vertical. with variable speed and in free alteration. but in the diagonal. "from one window to the other. Boulez in turn pays homage to Proust for having understood in a profound manner the autonomous life of the Wagnerian motive. a function of temporalization. But Boulez maintains a wholly other relationship with Proust. Jealousy II. occupying or being occupied without counting. implicit relationship (even if he often cites Proust in his writings). without measure? The first thing that Boulez seizes upon in Proust is the manner in which noises and sounds detach themselves from the characters. but any infelicities that remain are mine. nor in the melodic line of the route.. places and names to which they are first attached in order to form autonomous "motives" that ceaselessly transform themselves in time. which are like harmonic cadences.. Daniel W. Jealousy I. Smith provided much-needed advice on the translation itself. moving them on a diagonal as a unique temporal function that distributes the whole work?* In each case the diagonal is like a vector-block of harmony and melody. Jealousy III. detach themselves so fully from the characters that they themselves become infinitely changing characters. Not a more profound relationship. on a diagonal that constitutes the only unity of the work.
each theme. whether regular or not. are presented then as two statistical directions). musical Nomos and no longer measure.l" It is here that one occupies without counting.12 as well as those which relate the little phrase of the sonata to an index of speed. But such a goal can be attained only if perception breaks with the identity to which memory rivets it. An index of occupation replaces the index of speed. The blocks of duration thus follow a striated space-time in which they trace their diagonals according to the speed of their pulses and the variation of their measures. Boulez is able to take up Stravinsky's "praise of amnesia" or Desormiere's phrase "I hate remembering" without ceasing to be Proustian in his own manner." Meseglise and Guermantes. as a nebula or multiplicity. but following two distinct temporalizations. on the contrary it distributes in an open space-time the elements circumscribed in a bubble. distinct from the blocks of duration?!! Number has not disappeared.13 According to Proust. one which no longer refers to chronometry except in a global fashion: the cuts in it are undetermined. a block from a bubble (the septet is bathed in a violet mist which makes a rondo appear as if "inside an opal") . numbering number. because they pass through speeds and slownesses. an exchange between the two functions of temporalization. The theme of memory then appears secondary in relation to these more profound motives. The problem of art. are determined as magnitudes between-cuts. and "tempo" is the inscription of a certain number of units in a determined time. and instead of dividing up [repartir] a closed spacetime in view of the elements which make up a block. of an irrational type. are inseparable from metric and chronometric relations which define divisibilities.gilles deleuze The blocks of duration. which art exceeds on all sides. Can we not reserve Boulez's term. commensurabilities. a pulsed time. which has no more than degrees of density and rarefaction. inasmuch as the cuts in it are determinable. And the whole Search must be read smoothly and striatedly. it has become cipher. sometimes a block of transformation. even involuntary memory occupies a very restricted zone. and claims to enlarge perception to the limits of the universe. sometimes a nebula of diffusion. according to Bergson). and the measures. and measures are replaced by undecomposable distances and proximities which express the density or rarefaction of what appears in them (statistical distribution [repartition] of events). the correlative problem to creation. is that of perception and not memory: music is pure presence. This great Boulezian distinction. If we recapitulate the set of differences enunciated by Proust between Vinteuil's sonata and septet. Albertine is both at once. following epochs and hours (chronometry). This is a striated space-time. It's like the passage from one temporalization to another: no longer a Series of time. sometimes striated and sometimes smooth. as a "box" out of which one draws all sorts of variations of speed and alteration of quality. But more generally. the striated and the smooth. Music has always had this Downloaded By: [Cornell University Library] At: 23:15 20 September 2010 71 . following a statistical distribution (even the two "ways. and proportionalities: "pulse" is a least common multiple (or a simple multiple)." for this new figure. and which has only a conductive role. but an Order of time. nomad or Mallarmean number. "time bubbles. but has become independent of metric and chronometric relations. the second. while a very unequal distribution in smooth time introduces directions which evoke a striated time by the densification or accumulation of proximities. each character in the Search is systematically susceptible to a double exposition: the first. however. if only in the sense that a homogeneous distribution [repartition] in a striated time gives the impression of a smooth time. while the phrases of the septet refer to indices of occupation. additions and subtractions. But from the striated a smooth or nonpulsed space-time detaches itself in turn. instead of counting in order to occupy. that is to say of a rational type (first aspect of the continuous). a double reading in accordance with Boulez's distinction. it would contain those which distinguish a closed plane from an open space. augmentations and diminutions. Such an enlarged perception is the finality of art (or of philosophy. is less valuable as a separation than it is as a perpetual communication: there is an alternation and superposition of the two space-times.
" And no doubt. within a single work. taken up again by Boulez in new conditions (in particular. But in certain respects Boulez's musical conditions echo the literary conditions of Proust: rendering sonorous the mute force of Downloaded By: [Cornell University Library] At: 23:15 20 September 2010 72 ."20 To make sound the medium which renders time sensible. but phenomena that are without identity. in the same bubble. Proust. Even in repetition. as in Wagner or in Webern's three-note figure. as in Beethoven or Webern again. which works sometimes by an astonishing simplification. a third space-time adjacent to those of the smooth and the striated. which constitute "musical entities. or a common pitch in music. those forces that are ordinarily imperceptible. No doubt these forces are not necessarily time. Mademoiselle Vinteuil's friend had need of fixed points of reference in order to write the work. for how can one perceive writing "without the obligation to comprehend it"? Boulez will find the answer by defining a third milieu. these holes in perception be filled up by writing. or an envelope isolating a group of constitutive elements. the famous flavor common to two moments.16 In Vinteuil's little phrase. the fixed element is not defined by the identity of an element that is repeated. serial ones). it allows one to identify the different as such: thus in Proust. but rather instantaneize [instantaneisent] the variation or dissemination that they force us to perceive. "stretched like a curtain of sound to veil the mystery of its incubation. unities and relations of chronometry. the tonal language restored a specific principle of identity with the octave or with first-degree harmony. This is how it enlarges perception: it renders perceptible the variations in the striated milieu. like Joyce or Faulkner. the functional game of repetition and difference has replaced the organic game of the identical and the varied. which is to say the individuation without identity. which escape every point of reference in a smooth milieu?15 The ciphers or numbering numbers. But the system of blocks and bubbles implies a generalized refusal of every identity principle in the variations and distributions which define it. The fixed element is not the Same.19 In music as well as in literature. charged with making writing perceptible: the universe of Fixed Elements [Fizes]. and the distributions in the smooth milieu. Could this imperceptible element. and which is presented in the manner of a gesture leveling out the formal structure. To enlarge perception means to render sensible. but they are intertwined and united with those of time. "Time. which is not usually visible. The relation of envelopes among themselves creates the richness of perception and awakens sensibility and memory .. but by a quality common to the elements which could not be repeated without it (for example. This is why the fixed elements do not imply any permanence.. the high note held for two measures. and does not discover an identity beneath the variation. time itself. is one of those authors who dismiss every principle of identity in literature. or in the same block. the Numbers of time perceptible. With regard to the septet. sonorous (or visible).occupying without counting object: individuations without identity. do not appear as such in the sonorous phenomenon. 14 The problem of perception consequently redoubled: how does one perceive these individuals whose variation is incessant and whose speed is unanalysable. although they engender real phenomena." We perceive easily and sometimes painfully what is in time.18 Clearly the role of involuntary memory in Proust is to constitute envelopes of fixed elements. quite the opposite. And even the envelopes continuously maintain a "moving relation" among themselves. as in Berg's twelve beats."17 is a privileged example of a Fixed Element. "a little time in the pure state. but not time as force.. sometimes by suspension. and the ear be relayed by a reading eye functioning as "memory"? But the problem rebounds again. It will allow one to identify the variation. One should not think that involuntary memory or fixed elements re-establish a principle of identity. the flavor as quality common to two moments identifies Combray as always different from itself. to organize material in order to capture the forces of time and render it sonorous: this is Messiaen's project.). sometimes by an unusual accentuation. escaping from pulsation as well as from metric relations.. Far from leading the different back to the Same. or better yet. we perceive also the form.
1976). Bernard. the striated and the smooth. vol. On Webern. and a diagonal dimension will have been introduced. "the time of Utopia. This interview originally appeared in Le Débat 50 (Aug. "a place on the contrary prolonged past measure. see Boufez on Music Today 84-95. what do you want of me?] is the title of Boulez's exegesis of his Third Piano Sonata in Points de repère (Paris: Bourgois. publishers of the standard English translation of Proust. 1988): 257-66." There is lost time. 1975).. Boulez creates a set of fundamental philosophical concepts which arise from his own musical work. And then there is time regained. 1981) 704. rather than Remembrance of Things Past. and Orientations 151. Translated by Timothy S. a very considerable place compared with the restricted one which is allotted to them in space" (or rather which belongs to them when they count). Finally. haunted the giant time bubbles.gilles deleuze time. Then there is "time re-explored [le temps re-cherche]. 7 On the diagonal and the block. but in the next instant it is the "gesture" of time or the envelope of fixed elements. que me veux-tu?" [Sonata. 73 . Translated by Jonathan W. see the articles "Counterpoint" and "Webern" in Boulez's Stocktakings from an Apprenticeship (Oxford: Clarendon." Boulez says in homage to Messiaen: it finds itself after having penetrated the secret of Ciphers. In Boulez as in Proust. The forces of time and the functions of temporalization unite to constitute the Aspects of implicated time. 1971) 94. Boulez on Music Today (London: Faber. Stocktakings from an Apprenticeship 297. 9 The unity of the Search is always presented as a diagonal. often rhythmic. Scott Moncrieff with Terence Kilmartin. their progression in the diagonal: these are not (harmonic) chords. "From the Domaine Musical to IRCAM: Pierre Boulez in Conversation with Pierre-Michel Menger" in Perspectives of New Music 28. Proust. 1 (New York: Modern Library. 1991).. though I continue to cite the earlier version of their translation in this translation.. 1981. 1985). the Modern Library. and cannot simply be reduced to the opposition "lostregained.. 5 [TN] In this translation I follow Richard Howard's lead (in his translation of Deleuze's Proust and Signs [New York: Braziller. in the sense that timbre is like love. Also Boulez on Music Today 119. this would be the pulverization of sound. as in Vinteuil's music. which is a matter of timbre. Orientations (Cambridge: Harvard UP. this is the striated force of time. 300-01. each in turn. translated into English as Pierre Boulez: Conversations with Cékstin Deliège (London: Eulenberg. which is not a negation but a full function of time: in Boulez. or its extinction. 10 On cuts. Downloaded By: [Cornell University Library] At: 23:15 20 September 2010 notes 1 Boulez. time identified. it is translated by Martin Cooper in Boulez. but veritable hand-to-hand. It is by developing functions of temporalization that are exerted on sonorous material that the musician captures and renders sensible the forces of time. which cannot be confused with either the vertical or the horizontal dimensions"). have recently followed suit. Remembrance of Things Past [A la recherche du temps perdu].) in rendering the title of Proust's work as In Search of Lost Time. Orientations 266-69. 3 Boulez. "Time Re-Explored [Le Temps re-cherché]" in Orientations 260-77 (specifically.1 (winter 1990): 9. 269).'^ In his encounter with Proust. and repeats its own end rather than its origin. that men occupy "in time . 8 On Wagner. 6 Boulez. 1986) 143-54. 55 ("a block of duration will thus have been formed. 4 [TN] "Sonate. Happily. 1972] In. Translated by Susan Bradshaw and Richard Rodney Bennett. following Proust's analysis. Translated by C. these aspects are multiple.K. confronted the smooth . Cf. Murphy 2 [Translator's Note] Par vo/onté et par hasard [by will and by chance] is the French title of Célestin Deliège's volume of interviews with Boulez (Paris: Seuil. the extinction of timbres.by discovering.n the constitution of blocks of duration. sonorous and vocal holds in which one of the wrestlers prevails over the other. It seems to us that.
the essential article "L'écriture du musicien: le regard du sourd?" in Critique 408 (mai 1981). vol. 263-65.) Downloaded By: [Cornell University Library] At: 23:15 20 September 2010 Dr Timothy S. Murphy Department of English University of Oklahoma 760 Van Vleet Oval. 14 Boulez on Music Today 46: "In the serial system.occupying without counting on the one hand. cf. Ill. this is comparable to the eye's inability to estimate distances on a perfectly smooth surface" (85). 17 [TN] Proust. Orientations 411-17. assume different functions. 905 (trans. Ill. 85. 261. 13 [TN] Deleuze is alluding in both cases to essays by Boulez on musicians who influenced him: "Stravinsky: Style or Idea? — In Praise of Amnesia" and "Roger Désormière: 'I Hate Remembering. 20 [TN] Proust.'" both of which appear in Orientations.uk . the ear will lose all landmarks and all absolute cognizance of intervals. 11 [TN] Boulez. 230. the distinction between irrational and rational cuts according to Dedekind and. modified).. vol.. Proust establishes an explicit distinction between this aspect of time and time regained. Room 113 Norman. the distinction between distances and magnitudes according to Russell agree with the difference between the smooth and the striated according to Boulez. 1107 (trans. vol. vol." 15 Boulez on Music Today 42-43. through the evolution of their placing. And on markers in Wagner. which is another aspect. on the other hand. on the other hand. the sonata and septet are contrasted on 250-67. 21 Proust. 12 [TN] Proust.co. vol.demon. lll. an object composed of the same absolute elements can. 50-51. vol. l. l." Messiaen and Boulez. 16 Cf. no function appears identical from one series to another. (On "utopia. Ill. 19 [TN] Proust. Orientations 271 ("stabilizing elements"). 18 [TN] Proust. Boulez on Music Today 58. OK 73019-0240 USA E-mail: murphy@angelaki. "where partition [coupure] can be effected at will. modified).
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