Unreal Nature

May 14, 2017

This Moment Does Not Submit to Rhythm

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:54 am

… The life which I recognize as mine, the life in which I actively find myself, is incapable of being expressed in rhythm — is ashamed of rhythm: any rhythm must break off here …

Continuing through the essay ‘Author and Hero in Aesthetic Activity’ in Art and Answerability: Early Philosophical Essays by M.M. Bakhtin edited by Michael Holquist and Vadim Liapunov (1990):

… insofar as I find precisely myself in a given lived experience, insofar as I do not renounce it as my own within the unique unity of my own life, I connect it with the future — the future of meaning, I render it unindifferent to this future, I transpose its definitive justification and accomplishment into what-is-yet-to-be (that is, it has not yet become closed with respect to its outcome); as long as I am the one living in it, it does not yet exist in full. This brings us up directly to the problem of rhythm.

Rhythm is the axiological ordering of what is inwardly given or present-at-hand. Rhythm is not expressive in the strict sense of the term; that is, it does not express a lived experience, is not founded from within that experience; it is not an emotional-volitional reaction to an object and to meaning, but a reaction to that reaction. Rhythm is objectless in the sense that it has to do with the reaction to an object, with the experience of an object, and not directly with an object. As a result, rhythm tends to reduce the objective validity of the elements that compose a rhythmic sequence.

… The actual, fateful, risk-fraught absolute future is surmounted by rhythm — the very boundary between the past and the future (as well as the present, of course) is surmounted in favour of the past; the future as the future of meaning is dissolved as it were, in the past and the present …

… But the very moment of transition, of movement from the past and the present into the future, constitutes a moment in me that has the character purely of an event, where I, from within myself, participate in the unitary and unique event of being.

… It is precisely in this moment that rhythm has its absolute limit, for this moment does not submit to rhythm — it is in principle extrarhythmic, nonadequate to rhythm; here rhythm becomes a distortion and a lie. It is a moment where that which is in me must overcome itself for the sake of that which ought to be; where being and obligation meet in conflict within me; where is and ought mutually exclude each other.

… Free will and self-activity are incompatible with rhythm. A life (lived experience, striving, performed action, thought) that is lived and experienced in the categories of moral freedom and of self-activity cannot be rhythmicized.

… To be sure, the unfreedom, the necessity of a life shaped by rhythm is not a cruel necessity, not a necessity that is indifferent to value (cognitive necessity); rather, it is a necessity bestowed as a gift, bestowed by love: it is a beautiful necessity. A rhythmicized existence is “purposive without purpose.”

… To be actively aware of me myself is to illuminate myself with the yet-to-be meaning confronting me; outside this meaning, I do not exist for myself. My relationship to myself is incapable of being rhythmical; to find me myself in rhythm is impossible. The life which I recognize as mine, the life in which I actively find myself, is incapable of being expressed in rhythm — is ashamed of rhythm: any rhythm must break off here, for the sphere of such life constitutes a domain of sobriety and quiet (starting from the practical lowlands and reaching up to the ethical-religious heights). Rhythms can only possess or sway me; in rhythm, as under narcosis, I am not conscious of myself.

My most recent previous post from Bakhtin’s book is here.

-Julie

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