Treatments of and allusions to spatial borders can beget a different type of border state. I found this to be the case when working on Infinite Progress, the musical counterpart to Cara Marsh Sheffler's literary creation Guide — a brooding Western of sorts. Sheffler and I worked closely together in planning the complementary projects, and we both determined to create pieces for a strong solo voice: she in the form of a monologue, I in a suite for solo violin. In addition to the formal concerns, there was the question of character. I knew I wanted to create something that honored the tradition of Bach, who looms unavoidably large in unaccompanied violin literature, but to also come away with something that had the character and sensibility of old-time American fiddle tunes. It was an unlikely combination that seemed nonetheless particularly suited to the unlikely character of Lansford Warren Hastings, Guide's subject who straddled defining eras and episodes in American history. Sheffler took as her starting point the historical episode of the Donner Party and the role Hastings played; I took as mine her story together with the dichotomy I described. Our guiding star was to create something altogether new and yet familiarly universal. That in itself is a kind of maxim of border life.



— Temporal Borders: Experience as a Kind of Border State —

"The fathomless medium held them... and our friend felt as if they passed each other, in their deep immersion, with the round impersonal eye of silent fish." — Henry James, The Ambassadors


"Experience" can connote repeated, cumulative occurrence — a sort of practice of happenings that can make one an "expert." It can also connote a singular occurrence ("I've just had an experience"). The obvious dilemma would seem to be that for the finite amount of time that constitutes a life, we must be constantly choosing between these two varieties of experience. The first type is valuable inasmuch as it is repeated (up to the point of mastery and beyond). The second type is valuable inasmuch as it is perceived as different from all previous experience. I don't intend to propose a magical formula to balance the two, but instead to expose the tension between the two as the temporal crux of creativity.

In The Ambassadors, one of Henry James's last great novels, middle-aged Lambert Strether is sent on an errand to fetch his fiancée's son from a scandalous affair in Paris and to return him to his rightful if mundane station as heir to industry in Massachusetts. Strether's time in France changes him — or, perhaps more accurately, he very much believes himself to be undergoing some sort of change.