[Rhythm] is form whenever it is embodied in what is moving, movable, fluid, […]. It is the improvised, transient, modifiable form. – Emile Benveniste 1. In that sense human life can be apprehended as a ceaselessly mutating form, “a walking path” 2, a succession of instants that serve as the pulsation of a rhythm on a larger scale, the rhythm of a lifetime. From one instant to the next, that rhythmicity is at once what is closest to us and yet remains the most unknown: every one of our gestures –gait, speech, reflexes– delineates rhythmic patterns composed of a sequence of instants. Gradually, what we experience blends in step by step with what we have experienced earlier, already echoing, midway between memory and expectation, what we will experience at a later stage.
The prospective odds, so plentiful at birth, narrow down progressively until they define the unique existence of a specific being, a rhythm that bespeaks one unique means of experiencing time.
The display of alternatively slow or fast flows, of durations, starts, pauses, stresses, intensities, surges, pitches, tempi, permeates the present of a sensible experience marked by every past event and yet simultaneously anticipating the sound of every event in time to come.
As a result the manifold rhythms, the manifold fluencies emerge, those instants that constitute the many parts of the compass of a particular human life among other equally particular human lives; they all coexist within the whole compass of human generations and unite into pure musicality.
1. Emile Benveniste, « La notion de rythme dans son expression linguistique », in Problèmes de linguistique générale, tome 1,
2. Paul Klee, La Pensée créatrice, Dessain et Tolra, 1973.
Photo: Hervé Deroo