Rhythm in Economic Space

The question of rhythm is a social, a cultural, and a political question. How to find a rhythm? And, more importantly, how can the economy find a rhythm, without tending towards the mastering of chaos and the prediction of unexpected events?  In his (onto)political discussion of The Power at the End of the Economy, Brian Massumi finds a way to catch the temporality of rhythm in words, describing it as “a reactivation of the past in passage toward a changed future, cutting across dimensions of time, between past and future, and between pasts of different orders.” (Massumi, 104) Rhythm, in other words, appears as a transversal movement in-between different temporal dimensions. So, if we imagine time as an arrow, a linear trajectory going from past to future, we will actually see that what happens, the event, is guided not only by past conditionings but also by a prevailing ‘tendency’ in the future, an “orientation governing movement toward an attractor, or desired terminus (using ‘desire’ in the subjectless sense)” (104-105). While the linearity of the arrow seems metrically measurable as a ‘chronological order’ and more or less predictable in its outcome, its rhythmic disposition to generate events is given by the emergent complexity-effects of feedback/feedforward which operate between past and future in both directions, transforming the arrow into a series of quantic disconnections and com-plicated entanglements. The arrow becomes inflected into a curve, or a chaos of shifting curves, whose end is always out of sight. It is in this sense that, as Massumi suggests, the experience of the event in its rhythm (or, to use another resonant word, in its intensity) puts the experiencing self in an immediate relation of openness to an unknown future.


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