Rhythms: Work, Art, and Text, NUS Singapore, 10-12 Apr, 2014

Rhythm and Individuation

– on Heidegger’s commentary on Rimbaud

In 1972 in a short article titled Rimbaud Vivant, Heidegger mentioned a collection of poems by Arthur Rimbaud prefaced by René Char. It was probably the first time Heidegger talked about a poet without citing a poem. Heidegger was impressed by two letters included in this volume, and was therefore motivated to write this small article later included in GA13. Heidegger wanted to pose the question at the beginning: what does it mean to be a vital [lebendig] poet today? Heidegger immediately replied that the poet must have certain relation with the arrival of the unknown [Unbekanten]. This relation consists of defining the role of a poet and artist after modernisation, namely the development of techno-science. What will this relation be and to what extent can we approach it in relate to Heidegger’s later writings on art and technics? This article wants to retrieve this question through an investigation of rhythm, or more precisely the individuation of rhythm. The validity of this question consists in two parts: firstly rhythm is at centre of poetry which according to Heidegger is fundamental to all arts; secondly rhythm also reveals the relation between language and the world. This article is structured in 3 parts: the first part “The call of Poet”, elaborates on the question of rhythm in Heidegger’s commentary on Rimbaud; the second part “rhythm and metrics”, deals with the distinction between the proto-ontic nature of rhythm and form understood in classic hylemorphism; in the third part “The silence of the off-beat”, I will conclude with a reading of Heidegger’s article Das Wort (1958)dedicated to Stefan George, concerning the relation between rhythm and silence by synthesising part 1 and part 2.


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