253. Jamming time
In classical Greece, two notions of time were recognized: kairos and chronos. Chronos is sequential time, or what Bergson called spatial time: dots on a line. Kairos is the ‘opportune moment’, the effective thing to do at precisely that moment. It is adapting to circumstances as they arise, grasping opportunities when they arise. It entails a veering away from the plan, disturbing the programme, in taking advantage of contingent circumstances. Improvisation.
I wonder if Kairos is perhaps related to Bergson’s notion of duration.
Recently, I attended a presentation by the ‘Kyteman’ (Colin Benders), a young Dutch musician and band leader in the area of HipHop. He decided to get away from playing according to a fixed, prior composition. There, he explained, players are focused on themselves, fitting their contribution into the composition. The music consists of parallel voices each going their own set paths.
He opted for jamming, where players are intent upon each other as they improvise, adjusting or integrating novelty, in an unpredictable unfolding.
It is not without any order. Prior to playing some themes are proposed, and modes of mutual adaptation and integration. Kyteman stands in front, like a conductor, eliciting entries and exits, mutes and blasts.
Perhaps this is related to the opposition between Chronos and Kairos: with Chronos being associated with a preset order of composition, and Kairos with jamming.
Is Bergsonian duration like jamming?
This is associated, I think, with what Lévy-Strauss called bricolage, tinkering, which I used to characterize what entrepreneurs do: they have some initial sense of direction but bend it or veer off in a different direction on the occasion of unforeseeable obstacles and novel opportunities (item 41 in this blog). I think it also happens to artists, say poets and painters, as they find themselves proceeding in directions they did not foresee, pulled along with a sense of ‘flow’.
Perhaps this also connects with the notion of serendipity: finding something by happenstance, not as part of any programme, not sought for. It seems to fall out of the blue, but it happens only to the prepared mind, building on a store of mental repertoires that can be triggered and connected to produce novelty, in subconscious association.