Continental Philosophy Review

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 397–413 | Cite as

On memory, nostalgia, and the temporal expression of Josquin’s Ave Maria… virgo serena

  • Jessica WiskusEmail author


I draw upon Edmund Husserl’s classic text, On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time (18931917), in order to reframe some of his insight regarding the structures of inner time-consciousness and lay the groundwork for a few claims of my own. First, I show how musical expression is constituted in relation to the flowing movement of absolute subjectivity. Moreover, by carefully distinguishing between retention and recollection, I clarify, on the one hand, music’s ability to support access to memory proper (i.e. memory as a representation of the past) and, on the other hand, its ability to keep the past “in play,” so to speak (i.e. as an experience of nostalgia—as a perception of the past in terms of protentions that pertain to the present). In this way, we come to understand how music offers a unique memorial capacity—it makes possible the life of the past, as the vital movement of absolute subjectivity. Throughout the essay, I refer to Josquin’s motet Ave Maria…virgo serena in order to clarify the specific temporal structures that are at issue.


Husserl Time-consciousness Subjectivity Nostalgia Josquin Music perception 



I gratefully acknowledge funding from the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies through the AIAS-COFUND Fellowship Programme under grant agreement number 609033 of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme and Aarhus Universitets Forskningsfond in support of the research that produced this article.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aarhus Institute of Advanced StudiesAarhus CDenmark
  2. 2.Duquesne UniversityPittsburghUSA

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