Suspending the Past

Stonehenge, Dan Falk comments in his book In Search of Lost Time, “was a place where people felt united with their ancestors, the gods, the earth, and the heavens; a place where participants felt they could transcend time”. Archaeologist Alasdair Whittle notes that Stonehenge “made the future possible by suspending the past”.

In a way, Stonehenge is the physical counterpart to music. Suspending the past is what music does so well. The Seikilos Epitaph, one of the earliest examples of notated music, can still be heard more than two thousand years since its inception. That is a miracle in of itself.

Thousands upon thousands of Stonehenges exist in the realm of sound, from the Seikilos Epitaph to works from Dowland, Bach, and Mozart. They are testaments to humanity, to beauty, to art.

It reminds me of a quote from Northrop Frye: “The artist who uses the same energy and genius that Homer and Isaiah had will find that he not only lives in the same palace of art as Homer and Isiah, but lives in it at the same time”.

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