chapter  1
40 Pages

Lineages of a Geography of Rhythms

Repetitions, movements, cycles, intervals, serenity. 'Space melts like sand running through one's fingers. Time bears it away and leaves me only shapeless shreds' (perec 1997, 91). The fragmentation of space by memory. I still remember that bedroom window overlooking and overhearing Mellifont Avenue in Dun Laoghaire at rush hour. Its dense blend of maritime traffic and subterranean rumbling trains, scaffolds of gentrification, teenagers balancing on skateboards, Catholics on their way to church at Easter, and cars shifting gears. I remember suburbanites hurrying home from work through salty whipping rains, ignoring political campaigners during the general elections, and friends socializing at the pub just around the corner. I remember wondering what the politico-economic rhythm of the 'Celtic Tiger' might mean for those homeless addicts gathering near the pier. I remember the sculptural immobility of the Irish Sea at night-time. Seemingly motionless, but sandy and alive at dawn. Soon I got familiar with these spectacles and their multifarious visual, haptic, symphonic, natural, social, real-and-imagined rhythms around our temporary new home. At first sight, there was nothing hidden about the place and its habitual ebb and flow, its religious, economic, political, circadian (approximately 24-hour) and circaceptan (seven-day) cycles. Yet these rather trivial rhythms seemed impossible to register. How could I weave 'a net of words' sensitive enough to catch 'the rhythm of that sound-dance that bends and moves without ever destroying the penumbrae between external and internal, subject and object, body and soul?' (Olsson 1978, 114). No decimal notation of time, no geometrical commandment, no camera or taperecorder could easily articulate the experience of this lifeworld. Obviously, seen as an object, cut off from the spectator behind the window, I could conjure up some admirable theoretical descriptions, and measures designed to enclose and master beings or objects, but not the enveloping open grounds of existence. Moreover, for all their noises, smells, openly visible qualities, I always suspected that these spectacles concealed as much as they revealed of the principles, practices, and powers at work in my rhythmic environment: those who had abandoned the site, and those waiting to enter it. The rhythmicity of everyday activities and occurrences may very well exist unnoticed or experienced without being understood. Whoever wants to define rhythms with dogmatic epistemology easily misses its object.