Witkiewicz’s Theory of Pure Form and the Music of Morton Feldman
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In this paper I discuss how “pure form” applies to the music of composer Morton Feldman. Starting from Witkiewicz’s idea that music is the purest form of art, I discuss his speculations on the “heightened metaphysical feeling” that results from aesthetic experience. I also look at Witkiewicz’s rejection of sentimental music. I then take up the conditions of music in our time, where music is used as light entertainment. This exemplifies Witkiewicz’s fears about the use of art as a distraction to keep people happy. I then examine the music of Feldman as an antidote to these trends. His music conveys a sense of a flat surface upon which the attention of listeners drifts contemplatively with the music, experiencing it as an end in itself. I try to show how his music affects listeners at the core of their being and gives them a sense of unity in the midst of the multiplicity of everyday life.
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