IIIb., Three Gestures of Forgetfulness

When I am engaged in playing, I often find myself in a specific modality of time, in which the present in which I am situated, is a suspended intensified present, from which I have a sense of future and past only through the magnified present to which they [past and future] are directed.

This magnified present, suspense, is one of three figures of forgetfulness according to Marc Augé (2008); an abstracted present at the expense of past and future. As I stated above in chapter IIa., Playing “Over-Time” and Analysis “In-Time”: Subjectivity and Objectivity, my experience of time, as a musical improviser performing our research method is that it unfolds procedurally in-time, as an expanded indexical present to which past and present are directed. Thereby, I believe that the figure of forgetfulness in suspense seems to be the most central form, out of the three gestures of forgetting, to the act of being engaged in playing and replaying from memory.

According to Augé, the other two gestures of forgetfulness are return and rebeginning.

By return, Augé means that we, at the expense of the present, return to our past in order to find and re-establish a continuity with a lost past, which serves to turn our perceived as incomprehensible “compound” past into the advantage of a stringent “simple” past, intelligible and connected to our present, by way of a stringent (subjectively biased) narrative. This form of forgetfulness bears resemblance to the self-memory system and how coherence takes precedence over correspondence, which we learned above in chapter IIb., Coherence over Correspondence: Subjectively biased Narrative.
Rebeginning, for Augé, emphasises and finds a future at the expense of the past by creating conditions for opening up a future to every possible future without favouring either one.

Thus, we can see that the three gestures of forgetfulness have an emphasis on one tempus each: return on past, suspense on present, and rebeginning on future.

If we follow the lines of my map, we see that the three gestures of forgetfulness – all of which are concerned with a positioning and emphasis in time, of a past, present, and future, on behalf of each other – are directly connected to time, and indirectly linked to form by way of narrative, and coherence/correspondence.

At first, we may think that the three categories of improvisation, analysis, and forgetfulness, are independent of each other, but as artistic researchers we are engaged in all three of these categories and as part of this research project, I have had the experience that in order for me to perform our method to play and replay from memory, I improvise [in-time], I analyse [over-time], I replay from memory according to a subjectively biased formal narrative, and because of this I supplement what I played with what and how I forgot what and how I played, i.e., I partly [unconsciously] remembered [forgot] what and how I played.

In contemporary civilization where everything is standardized and where everything is repeated, the whole point is to forget in the space between an object and its duplication. If we didn't have this power of forgetfulness, if art today didn't help us to forget, we would be submerged, drowned under those avalanches of rigorously identical objects (For the Birds, 1981).  -John Cage