I read the whole of Augustine's Confessions (not merely book XI) as an extended essay on the phenomenology of time-consciousness, understanding the Confessions as a performative text—as a text that enacts or performs the very content it describes. The key to this reading lies in a careful study of Augustine's use of psalms and hymns in his work, centered upon “Deus, creator omnium.” This hymn not only appears in book XI but forms an important structural element (as referenced also in books IV, IX, and X); it plays a similar and significant role in Augustine's De Musica as well. Through his interpretation of the performance of “Deus, creator omnium” in De Musica, Augustine presents a highly sophisticated notion of rhythm that discloses a nonlinear account of time essential to my reading of book XI of the Confessions; memory comes to be understood as illuminating not only the past but also the present and future. Moreover, the centrality of rhythm in De Musica allows us to understand how the structural whole of the Confessions is organized rhythmically, performing a “beginning” that serves as origin only retroactively, through relation or proportion to the end.

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