Near vibratory disappearance

The vibratory appears and disappears simultaneously.* Perhaps vibration requires two different words, rather than containing two meanings in one. The second meaning is the irruptive one that threatens the first, that of the regular sound or movement. Yet the Greeks had one word, the σεισμὸν (seismon), from which we get “seismic.” In the Timaeus, sound is produced by the vibration of a certain body of air, or of some other conducting medium. The Greeks had other words, but seismon contained both the regular trembling and the tremor. The first is the smooth, Barthesian functioning of the machine that provides us with pleasure: the humming of the engine, the tuning fork’s duration, the slow smooth flow of speech, the movement of an athlete “in the zone.” These aren’t equal or the same, and have their own specificities. Then speech breaks down — that’s when you notice it. The avant-garde solution to the consumption machine was to break things down. The cultural machine as seismon is the rhythm-measuring machine, that of the metronomic, regular waves of the sea, which was a new conception of rhythm-as-measurement added by that sensible trio, Socrates-Plato-Aristotle. The rhythmic machine was to keep the seismic, irruptive, pleasure-making machine at bay, keep it in its oyster shell, so-to-speak. It was a crusty Socrates who called hedonism the life of an oyster, for the pleasure machine might lead to the other seismon. This is a danger that has always accompanied Western philosophy, a danger of the daimonic that upsets the rational.  MORE…

*Mallarmé, “Crise de vers”: “A quoi bon la merveille de transposer un fait de nature en sa presque disparition vibratoire selon le jeu de la parole, cependant; si ce n’est pour qu’en émane, sans la gêne d’un proche ou concret rappel, la notion pure” (OC II, 213). [Literal translation: “What’s the use of transposing a fact of nature in its near vibratory disappearance according to the game of speech, this-pending; if it is so that might emanate, without the awkwardness of a close or concrete reminder, the pure notion.”]

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