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date: 27 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter investigates the “being in the moment” sought after and celebrated by improvisers. Through an initial reference to Hegel’s phenomenology of the “unhappy consciousness,” the discussion proper begins with Soren Kierkegaard’s commentary and existential radicalization of this in Either/Or. Understood as precisely an out-of-the-moment experience, such unhappiness is here understood as being at the heart of much post-romantic art, exemplified in Theodor Adorno’s perspective on the yearning of modernism understood as the promesse de Bonheur. If unhappiness, conceived as temporal dislocation, is considered essential to art, then the question is posed as to how improvisation’s desire for temporal resolution fits (if at all) into such an aesthetic schema. A conclusion is drawn by combining Kierkegaard’s proto-existentialism with both Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology of internal time-consciousness (retention/intention/protention) and Maurice Blanchot’s writings on solitude, fascination, and “time’s absence.” The result is a far more complex and temporally differentiated conception of the “being in the moment” moment, one that attempts to do justice to the interlaced continuity and discontinuity of the improvised event.

Keywords: moment, unhappiness, improvisation, temporality, time-consciousness, protention, retention, solitude, fascination

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