The title of the work derives from a number of cycles known as the 'spleen' poems
in Charles ... In one of these cycles, spleen et ideal Baudelaire sets the power.
James Dillon Spleen (1980) Solo piano duration: 10 minutes Published by Edition Peters (EP 7244) First performance: December 1980, British Music Information Centre, London, Michael Finnissy
The title of the work derives from a number of cycles known as the ‘spleen’ poems in Charles Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal. In one of these cycles, spleen et ideal Baudelaire sets the power of memory (ideal) against the inexorable beat of time (spleen) - “And minute by minute, Time engulfs me, as the snow’s measureless fall covers a motionless body”. Walter Benjamin in his study of Baudelaire talks of the ‘spleen’ which “exposes the passing moment in all its nakedness”. The attempt to enunciate this temporality, through an aura of associations, part of the poet’s doctrine of correspondences is reflected in the present composition. In a single movement, the work is constructed around various states of continuity and discontinuity, processes some in a state of continuous variation, others frozen by cyclic constraints are all subject to the violence of the ‘incision’ (what Lacan calls ‘la coupure’). It is the energy within the shock of ‘the cut that defines temporality’. Something that hovers around a moment when temporality is rendered palpable. This ‘something’ is no abstraction but is as concrete as the chill of the eastern winds.
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