Reflections on Art: A Source Book of Writings by Artists, Critics, and Philosophers

By Susanne K. Langer | Go to book overview
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Bergsonism and Music

GABRIEL MARCEL

THERE IS N0THING, in a sense, more contrary to the spirit of Bergson's philosophy than raising a question such as that which constitutes the subject of this study; and this is true for several perfectly valid reasons.

In the first place -- and with all due respect to Thibaudet -- there is probably no idea less Bergsonian than that of Bergsonism. In fact the inherent tragedy of that most difficult and powerful thought is its inability, because of its very premises, to ever become converted into a system, or in other words, to complete itself without negating itself at the same time. Why, in so far as it is itself a higher mode of life and spirit, would it, also, not bear the stamp of the unforseeable or of perpetual creation, and thus be condemned -- or consecrated -- to remaining forever open, far indeed from ever being "Closed up" or rounded off into the vault of a church? Consequently, there would be little point in taking a body of propositions called Bergsonism and trying to draw from it any particular corollary applying to music.

Furthermore, the idea of a theory of music, even of the very possibility of such a theory, would seem to have little chance of finding its content in Bergson's philosophy, which has always been

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