Guided Dreams – Simone Movio
In Jorge Luis Borges’s literary cosmos there exists an unassuming object, but one that holds a demonic power: the zahir. For those who encounter it, everything else gradually fades into the background. The zahir can suppress the entire universe: „Time, which weakens other memories, strengthens those surrounding the zahir. There was a time I could imagine first the front, then the reverse side; today I see both sides at once. […] Everything that is not the zahir only arrives muffled, as if from far away.“ This literary metaphor epitomizes the (more poetical than philosophical) idea that the whole is contained in each of its parts. Borges and others have expressed it poetically. In Simone Movio's work it attains its musical visage.
The idea that a composer named a whole series of pieces after Borges's imaginary object is only a superficial source of fascination. More consequential are the possibilities of musical realization that result from it. While literature can create such things and illustrate their consequences, i.e., alternative forms of time and perspective, music can actually realise them and present them to the senses. For example, Zahir V (2011/12) for saxophone quartet unfolds from a series of cell-like motives which contrast strongly in their sound and figuration type. Only at the end of the piece does it become clear that what had taken place was a discontinuous and nonlinear process of reduction and concentration. Its result assembles everything that came before, albeit highly condensed. The music thus realizes that which the zahir effected: a “spheroidal view”, of the front and back side; inside and outside; past, present and future all at once.
The notion of a “nunc” or “hic stans” (as it is formulated by the scholastics), a suspension of our modes of viewing in time and space, goes arm-in-arm with a disempowerment of the subject. When everything is available at once, then the ego and its worldview cease to play a role. From the perspective of art this is by no means a loss, and Simone Movio's utter repudiation of any self-reflection or display of affects in his music has something tremendously liberating about it. “Objectivity” in the sense of a shaping force that transcends the ego, thus holds sway in all his works; it is revealed not least in how he dispenses with obvious narrative devices such as “themes” once were. For Simone Movio music is instead an exacting form of time. His compositions thereby create experiential spaces, that outside of art would be unattainable. What Borges claims about literature can also be said of Simone Movio's music: it is nothing but a guided dream.
Translation: Philipp Blume