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Evental Distention: Restless Simultaneity In Steve Reich's Piano Phase—Towards A Rehabilitation Of The Real

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that a contemporary resurgence of realism rests on what might seem little more than an intuitive observation: that what is Real is contingently so and that this contingent existence unfolds in a time which is irreversible. Tracing the temporal ambiguity which an aesthetic experience of Piano Phase effects - the inability precisely to determine beginning or ending, forward or backward direction - the chapter further argues that Reich's composition effects an evental distension, an apparent stretching of the event from within its own emergence. Despite the tension that may result from Reich's phasing - a tension the author associates here with the sublime - the temporal trajectories of Piano Phase exist in non-coercive relation to each other and the listening subject. They expose a vulnerability at the heart of contemporary experience that seems intimately tied to the constitutive complexity of our human organismic experience.

Keywords: evental distension; modalities of time; resurgent realism; Steve Reich's Piano Phase



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