The main cultural transformation of modern capitalism has been the creation of refrains of temporal perception that pervade and discipline society: the refrain of factory work, the refrain of the salary, the refrain of production line. The digital transition has brought along with it new refrains: electronic fragmentation, information overload, acceleration of the semiotic exchange. Fractalization of time, competition. The essential feature of refrain is the rhythm. Rhythm is the relation of a subjective flow of signs (musical, poetic, gestual signs) with the environment: cosmic environment, earthly environment, social environment. Rhythm is singular and collective. It is singularizing the sound of the world in a special modeling of the environmental sound. But it is able to trigger a process of agglutination, of sensitive and sensible communality. Sometime people start to sing the same song, and to dance the same dance. It can be dangerous, and on this kind of homogeneous subjectivation is based fascism, and modern totalitarianism in general. But it can happen in ironic and nomadic ways. People start to create a new song, and they do it together. That’s a movement.
Franco Berardi, aka “Bifo,” founder of the famous “Radio Alice” in Bologna and an important figure of the Italian Autonomia Movement, is a writer, media theorist, and media activist. He currently teaches Social History of the Media at the Accademia di Brera, Milan.