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6 Meter, Groove and the Times of Capitalism

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Chapter Summary

The emergence of meter as a universal organising principle for musical temporality is a much more significant development than the emergence of groove. The spread of clock time is not simply a product of industrialisation, but of capitalist industrialisation. At the deepest level, abstract time is to be understood as structured into capitalism, as the temporality of capitalism, because capitalism is temporal in a way in which previous economic formations were not. Moishe Postone highlights a particular feature of the interrelationship between value, abstract labour and time in Marx's analysis. The description of 'eternal present' understood as the projection of a heightened sense of 'now' being continually projected into the future might be regarded as capturing the essence of the temporality of groove music. Like Postone, Sohn-Rethel seeks to expose the 'real abstraction' in society which gives rise to abstraction in thought.

Keywords: abstract labour; abstract time; Alfred Sohn-Rethel; capitalism; clock time; groove music; Moishe Postone

10.1163/9789004242944_008
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