"The piece dies a natural death. It dies of old age."

"I find that as the piece gets longer, there has to be less material. That the piece itself, strangely enough, cannot take it. It has nothing to do with my patience. I don't know, my patience, how far it goes, you know. And I don't think about what your patience would be. I don't know that. In other words, I don't have a kind of psychological situation. Let's put it this way. I don't have an anxiety that I've got to stop. But there's less going into it, so I think the piece dies a natural death. It dies of old age."

Morton Feldman (Selected Interviews and Lectures, 1964-1987)

"What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I want to explain it to the questioner, I do not know."

Eva Brann on the problem of Book XI of Augustine's Confessions:

"My own concern with time started from two ends at once, intellectual puzzlement and deep-felt irritation, and it developed, as really good questions do, from annoyed fascination to serious interest. The intellectual puzzlement was just that expressed by Augustine: What sort of a being, if it was a being, could be so handily familiar in daily usage and so fugitive to the grasp of thought? Here I did as all my fellow humans do: I make time, kill time, manage my time, waste time. To be sure, I’ve never “done” time, though but for the grace of God I might have. I know that time heals all wounds and ravages all the beauties of the world. But if I ask myself what it is that does this, I see and touch nothing and think of less. That is at first just a puzzling and then an engaging state of affairs."

With neither beginning nor end

[Leonard Bernstein's account of his visitation of Mlle. Boulanger.] I was ushered into her bedchamber by the angelic and anxiety-ridden Mlle. Dieudonné, who, with forefinger to lips, and seconded only by an attending nurse, whispered a sharp order: Ten minutes only. As it turned out, the visit lasted closer to one hour.

Nadia was beautifully dressed and groomed, as if for the coffin. Her crucifix gleamed at her throat; her eyes and mouth were closed; her whole face seemed closed in coma. I knelt by the bed in silent communion. Suddenly there was the shock of her voice, deep and strong as always (how? her lips did not seem to move; how?) "Qui est là?" I could not respond for shock. The Dieudonné forefinger whipped to the lips. Finally I dared speak: "Lenny. Léonard..." Silence. Did she hear, did she know? "Cher Lenny..." She knew; a miracle. Encouraging signal from Dieudonné. I persevered: "My dear friend, how do you feel?" Pause. Then that basso profundo (through unmoving lips!): "Tellement forte." I drew a deep breath. "Vous voulez dire ... intérieurement?" "...Oui. Mais le corps--" "Je comprends bien," I said hastily, to shorten her efforts. "Je pars. Vous devez être très fatiguée." "Pas de fatigue. Non. Point. ..." A protracted pause, and I realized she had drifted back into sleep.

Signals from the astonished attending ladies suggested my departure, but I was held there, unable to rise from my knees. I knew there was more to come, and in a few minutes it did come: "Ne partez pas." Not a plea, but a command. I searched my mind anxiously for the right thing to say, knowing that anything would be wrong. Then I heard myself asking: "Vous entendez la musique dans la tête?" Instant reply: "Tout le temps. Tout le temps." This so encouraged me that I continued, as if in quotidien conversation: "Et qu'est-ce que vous entendez ce moment-ci?" I thought of her preferred loves. "Mozart? Monteverdi? Bach, Stravinsky, Ravel?" Long pause. "Une musique ... [very long pause] ... ni commencement ni fin ..."

She was already there, on the other side.

Eva Brann on time

My own concern with time started from two ends at once, intellectual puzzlement and deep-felt irritation, and it developed, as really good questions do, from annoyed fascination to serious interest. The intellectual puzzlement was just that expressed by Augustine: What sort of a being, if it was a being, could be so handily familiar in daily usage and so fugitive to the grasp of thought? Here I did as all my fellow humans do: I make time, kill time, manage my time, waste time. To be sure, I’ve never “done” time, though but for the grace of God I might have. I know that time heals all wounds and ravages all the beauties of the world. But if I ask myself what it is that does this, I see and touch nothing and think of less. That is at first just a puzzling and then an engaging state of affairs.