IT IS UNDENIABLE that a work of art is temporal, that there is a temporality in any and all works of art, however valuable and firmly-grounded the distinction between the plastic and the musical arts may otherwise be. Anything is temporal which is in time, or involves time, or is a prey to time. Such is clearly the case with a sonata, a novel, a poem, a motion-picture, or a theatrical production; such is likewise the case with a canvas, a monument or a basrelief. All these are quite evidently entities concerned with time.
And yet such a formulation is excessively vague: as vague as the words temporal and temporality themselves. Let us therefore try to define more precisely the time parameter in a work of art. As we do so, we see the single and undifferentiated notion of temporality break up into a plurality of discrete levels.
The most obvious of these levels, because it is the most general of them, is surely what Étienne Souriau calls "the temporal insertion of a work of art." The word temporal is in this case both clear and in conformity with present usage. The work is in time, subject to time, with all that this involves in the way of history, of change and of adventures, for the physical work itself as well as for its "message" (if I may be allowed the use of this detestably facile
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Publication information: Book title: Reflections on Art:A Source Book of Writings by Artists, Critics, and Philosophers. Contributors: Susanne K. Langer - Editor. Publisher: Johns Hopkins Press. Place of publication: Baltimore, MD. Publication year: 1958. Page number: 161.