Cycle 44: Playing by Ear

The History of the Novel

Before the invention of precise mechanical clocks (Christian Huygens built the first pendulum clock in 1656, then developed the balance wheel and spring mechanism in 1675), there were no novels (Robinson Crusoe did not appear until 1719). By the time Eli Terry was mass producing clocks in 1800, the novel was the dominant literary genre.

To refuse to write novels is to resist the tyranny of mechanical time.

The Bangless Bang

Before there were ears, how did the universe sound?

Before there were ears, who did God command?

Before Bishop Berkeley had ears, trees rose and fell in forests.

Passion at a Distance

Imagine the quiet before phones.

      After cell phones, there’s no escape.

Could people actually have been closer to each other before phones?

      After phones, voices without bodies.

Robinson Crusoe could only have been written before phones.

      After cell phones, every man is an island.

Proust could not have written the Recherche before phones.

      After cell phones, cell phone thrillers.

Before Music

Before there were ears to hear it, was there music?
John Cage would say yes, and ask – before there was music, was there noise?

Wagner – ever operatic – would say no.

What would deaf Beethoven say? (Did music sound better to him before or after he went deaf?)
Before there was music, did birds sing?

In the Middle, Silence

At the edge of silence, everything vibrates.

No two silences are alike.

The strong know silence is strength, just as the weak know it is weakness.

Silence means different things in different languages. Also in the same language. (The distinctive silences of one’s mother tongue.)

In the plenitude of silence, nothing means anything and nothing means nothing.

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