Wednesday, May 14, 2008

(Rhythm)2, and So On

It was a mistake for me to have said that isochrony is wrong. I should have restricted my criticism to a characteristic abuse of time, or of a way of being overcome by measurement. Surely isocrhony has its uses.

Bachelard says, "The time of thought is in fact so superior to the time of life that it can sometimes command life's action and life's repose" (The Dialectic of Duration, p. 102). One can disagree with this statement readily enough. However, isn't the modern discomfort with isochrony predicated on just such an intuition? On what grounds would one object to the superiority of the time of thought? Is it the mind that revolts at the proposition of such a superiority?

One of Bachelard's riffs on Pinheiro dos Santos' unpublished Rhythmanalysis:

If a particle ceased to vibrate, it would cease to be. It is now impossible to conceive the existence of an element of matter without adding to that element a specific frequency. We can therefore say that vibratory energy is the energy of existence. Why then should we not have the right to place vibration at the heart of time in its original form? We do so without any hesitation. For us, this first form of time is time that vibrates. Matter exists in and only in a time that vibrates, and it is because it rests on this time that it has energy even in repose. We would therefore be forgetting a fundamental characteristic if were to take time to be a principle of uniformity. We must ascribe fundamental duality to time since the duality inherent in vibration is its operative attribute. We now understand why Pinheiro dos Santos has no hesitation in writing that 'matter and radiation exist only in and through rhythm' (volume 2, section I, p. 18). This is not, as is so often the case, a declaration inspired by a mystique of rhythm; it really is a new intuition, firmly based on the principles of modern wave physics.

(p. 138, Bachelard's emphases, my bold)

Is existence capable of revolution? The question What is capable of revolution? strikes me as wrongheaded in that it would be better to ask who revolts (and who commands), yet we should wonder what is meant by "existence." We should take it upon ourselves to existentialize rhythmanalysis, to follow that path whithersoever it leads, or to lead it whithersoever it follows. Shall we resist dipping our toes into the cosmos? Water symbolizes mystique. Does it also provide a means for comprehending clarity? Tremendous experiments will be conducted. Toes will be dipped.

To begin to meander in an out of Bachelard's text, is the following formula too uncomfortable for vamping (or imaginary vamping as the case may be): ((rhythm)2(rhythm)3)2? If emergent rhythms are comfortably achieved (with practice), would that be precisely because one can assume tacit isochronous pulsations? Or, would it be the case that a stricture against making isochronous pulsation explicit enables the synchronous expression of alternative isochronies? Does a polychronic facility signify a mastery of disparate isochronies, or does it follow its own path? (I'll be rereading Simha Arom's African Polyphony and Polyrhythm shortly so I'll get back to the idea of isochronic pulsation in music in future posts.)

How should we question generic isochronic periodicity, if there is such a beast? The freedom to vary tempos in daily life is essential to good living. For all the good that regularity can accomplish, to live life at a single pace amounts to passing the time under hypnosis. Is life lived within a single horizon, on a single plane without superiorities or inferiorities, also a kind of hypnosis? Would we be able to endure a life totally stripped of hypnotic moments? That is to say, perhaps rhythm is only possible as (rhythm)2, and so on.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 11:05 AM.


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