12.22.2010

We Live in Multiple Times

I've been struck recently by how we live — all of us, everyday — in multiple times at once. The now is always a multiplicity, a series of intersecting nodes that never quite coalesce: the now is a network of varying speeds and various times.

In his Cinema books, Deleuze notes that a filmic image always enjoys multiple times. The example he uses is a man walking a dog through along a river, through the mountains. He asks us to note all the different times occupying the frame at the same time: river time, mountain time, dog time, man time, the time of the frame itself.

I am now seeing this multiplicity of temporalities, of speeds and durations, co-existing in me. I feel the continuation of high school loves — that incredible pathos — winding through me, right now, and projecting itself into the future, into possible worlds. I feel tastes for certain foods — things I loved at one point — burbling now and again and with each craving I am existing then and now. I see the things that make up my life — my son's drawing, art I've acquired recently, art I've acquired ages ago and each item is a time, not just its time but my time, a time of me, of my becoming. Now take all the objects that surround me — the pens and scribbled notes, the bowls with their chips, the forks with their bends, the stored food I once craved: each is a time of my becoming, a duration of my becoming that is absolutely distinct and yet harmonizing, impossibly, awkwardly, with these other times, these other durations.

Yes, we endure — as Bergson notes — and this endurance is a network of durations.

Think now about cyclical knowledge such as the zodiac. What a strange temporality! What a strange kind of knowledge! The cycles are so vast, too vast for one lifetime to truly comprehend. And so the very nature of such grand cyclical knowledge is premised on collective knowing that is temporally rather than spatially distributed. And this calendar, which was forged across time, inflects the present as we consult it, learn from it.

Suddenly, I see the great teem of durations, of temporalities, everywhere I look: the stains and nicks and potholes, the dents and rusts, the gleams and polishes, the wear and tear, the tears and cries and giggles: they are all their own durations existing alongside each other.

And this great swarm of times flourishes within us. Or, rather, this great swarm is our becoming.

Bergson tells us that memory is not reflection. We are our memory — it's how we know how to tie our shoes, throw a ball, drive a car; how we know what we like to eat, what we like to do. Memory is not a warehouse of images. Memory is the name for this great swarm of times that carry each of us along, that is our respective becoming.

1 comment:

Pierre said...

the comprehension of the performative aspects of language acts, for the one who is the witness of the modifications involved by this comprehension, as a screen breaker. the same way screen (tv mainly, internet, less) creates imaginary borderies between spectator and the world, memories are often considered as parcel, autonomous part of the mind.

One who is used to learn poetry by heart knows that a memory is not an independant part of ourself, as well as, when we speak, we are not the witness of a supranatural nature of the ideas, but that we are the supernatural creators of these strange thing called concept.

it is a mistake to dissociate memories and feelings, as well dissociating facts and language, as well as dissociating ourself sheltered in front of a screen and the world like if we were not part of the world.