Introduction to Rhythmanalysis

The following constitutes the conclusion of a paper I just presented in Copenhagen:

A central concern in Bale's analysis of high performance running is the space-time compression that occurs as technologized runners traverse standard spatial distances in ever-shorter temporal quantities. But we must draw a distinction between the imperatives of capital and those of the State (Deleuze & Guattari, ATP; Hardt & Negri, Empire). A world-class running athletes embodies a massive fixed capital investment that seeks maximal speed and the potential financial reward that entails, while the State seeks to maintain a perceived level of ethical integrity for its own spectacular purposes.

Bale's analysis refers to the acceleration of capital in its various forms and one of the ways in which the State seeks to control these bodies is by introducing a space-time dilation to offset the compression. The fully automated photo finish system essentially expands the final tenths of a second at the conclusion of a race so that the administrators may optically adjudicate the speeding bodies and determine a race victor. Similarly, where the wide space of the marathon creates permeability in the tight disciplinary enclosure normally understood with achievement sport, the State attempts to fortify the barriers between spectator and participant by using radio frequency transponder chips to compress the marathon sportscape.

Thus, the State, in the form of the International Association of Athletics Federations, is presented here as establishing countervailing impulses or rhythms of spatiotemporal compression or dilation in a controlling response to the unchecked immanence of high performance running bodies. Based in the tactile nature of networked electronic technologies this control may be described as panhaptic, which suggests that new tools are required to think beyond optical surveillance and conceptualize resistance to structures of authority, both within sporting cultures and in broader society.

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And I'd like to juxtapose this with a passage from Henri Lefebvre's Introduction to Rhythmanalysis (p.15, emphasis in original):

Everywhere where there is interaction between a place, a time, and an expenditure of energy, there is rhythm. Therefore:

a) repetition (of movements, gestures, action, situations, differences);

b) interferences of linear processes and cyclical processes;

c) birth, growth, peak, then decline and end.

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  1. David Allison says:

    As professional athletes are associated with large capital investments, it is vital to maximize performance in order achieve the greatest potential financial reward. As such, athletes as well as those invested in the athlete, who will benefit on the basis of that athletes success, will often go to extreme measures to insure success. On the other side of the spectrum, the State wants to maintain some level of ethical integrity. The main difference with the States approach is that in order for them to try and stop or reduce doping in sport they must spend money and undergo financial losses. The athletes and investors on the other hand, see only financial gains and benefits with the greater success achieved from doping. The State may find beneficial aspects in the long run, as the eventual progression to more ethical sport may influence society in general, but it is in no way an immediate reward. This may explain why it would appear that the State or anti doping agencies are, for the most part, losing the battle when it comes to doping in sport.