“Infinity has a tendency to fill the mind with that sort of delightful horror, which is the most genuine effect, and truest test of the sublime.”
– Edmund Burke
Purity of tone and the sweetness of essence is what Jim O’Rourke’s Old News No. 8 is and is about. The variable infinitude of expanse combined with regressive images of self lead to the abysmal recollection of self as object in infinity. That is to say: we are merely conscious of the Mere.
One can say that ambiance is a tonal account for what is: it both accounts for the natural sounds as well as replaces them. For that to shift or progress suggests an upheaval, a descent into possibility. Kant’s account of beauty contains the notion of context-less representation. So, beauty — and in this specific case, cognition — is a standalone form. The term beauty refers to the thing that contains the aspects or particulars of beauty or having the ability to be beautiful — that is, radiant. Beauty and cognition are indeed something inherent and expansible, so what happens when a singular object forces one to arrive at the self: meta-recollection — singularity of the mind and of essence?
Time is superimposed on Old News No. 8. It’s also the subject of analysis. Although time floats freely, existing in limbo, it’s contained by the very idea that it starts and stops. It is the “mere essence” of the moment, the moment restrained by cognition and its acts. Mere-ness, for O’Rourke, is segmented into parts — variations of essence. Essence is separated for scrutiny by O’Rourke’s conscious self and to be shared with the spectator’s larger, collected conscious selves; and through our scrutiny — O’Rourke as presenter, me as decoder, you as experiencer — the tracks arrive to Merely, the audacious tumult to recognition of the self as one with essence and with cognition, and to be merely mere.
This revelation is deafening, literally. Merely shows us our mechanical inner workings, our blood, oxygen being pumped throughout the body of the universe. Through cognition, all is revealed. True beauty is pragmatic.