Friday, 3 October 2008

The Crisis of Truth and The Power of the False; Time as Series

"It time appears directly, it is in de-actualized peaks of present; it is in virtual sheets of past. The indirect image of time is constructed in the organic regime in accordance with sensory-motor situations, but the two direct time-images appear in the crystalline system in consequence of pure optical and sound situations.

"A fourth point, more complex and general, follows on from this. If we take the history of thought, we see that time has always put the notion of truth into crisis. Noththa truth varies depending on the epoch. It is not the simple empirical content, it is the form or rather the pure force of time which puts truth into crisis. Sine antiquity this crisis has burst out in the paradox of 'contingent futures'. If it is true that a naval battle may take place tomorrow, how are we to avoid one of the true following consequences: either the impossible proceeds from the possible (since the battle could not have taken place), or the past is not necessarily true (since the battle could not have taken place. It is easy to regard this paradox as a sophism It nonetheless shows the difficulty of conceiving a direct relation between truth and the form of time, and obliges us to keep the true away from the existent, in the eternal or in what imitates the eternal.

"Leibniz says that the naval battle may or may not take place, but that this is not in the same world: it takes place in one world and does not take place in a different world, and these two worlds are possible, but are not 'compossible' with each other. It is not the impossible, but only the incompossible that proceeds from the possible; and the past may be true without being necessarily true.

"But the crisis of truth enjoys a pause rather than a solution. For nothing prevents us from affirming that incompossibles belong to the same world, that incompossible worlds belong to the same universe. This is Borges's reply to Leibniz: the straight line as force of time, as labyrinth of time, is also the line which forks and keeps on forking, passing through incompossible presents, returning to not-necessarily true pasts.

"A new status of narration follows from this: narration ceases to be truthful, that is, to claim to be true, and becomes fundamentally falsifying. This is not at all a case of 'each has its own truth', a variability of content. It is a power of the false which replaces and supercedes the form of the true, because it poses the simultaniety of incompossible presents, or the coexistence of not-necessarily true pasts. Crystalline description was already reaching the indiscernability of the real and the imaginary, but the falsifying narration which corresponds to to it goes one step further and poses inexplicable differences to the present and alternatives which are undecidable between true and false to the past. The truthful man dies, every model of truth collapses, in favour of the new narration. We have not mentioned the author who is essential in this regard: it is Nietzsche, who, under the name of 'will to power', substitutes the power of the false for the form of the true, and resolves the crisis of truth, wanting to settle once and for all, but, in opposition to Leibniz, in favour of the false and its artistic, creative power..."¹

"Narratives have a falsifying capacity, a "power of the false" [puissance du faux], when they unfold in simultaneous presents or coexisiting pasts, but the power of the flase manifests itself in another way as well, through another kind of chronosign. When we consider a succession of events in a commonsense fashion, each event seems a discrete moment, a point in time, and the sequence of moments forms a uniform line which we tend to view from the outside, as it were, simply observing points A, B, and C, and noting their positions, A before B, C after B. But if we consider the events from "inside," as participants in the events, we sense the dynamic surge of time, the passing of A through B and into C (in Husserl's terms, we sense the present's retention of the past and protention of the future). This dynamic surge is a puissance, a power or potency of time. Withn this surge, "before" and "after" are not discrete moments but the two faces of a single puissance, a single becoming. The commmonsense succession ofmoments Deleuze calls an empirical sequence (suite emperique), but those same moments when treated as part of a single puissance,he labels a series."²

"Becoming can in fact be defined as that which transforms an empirical sequence into a series: a burst of series. A series is a sequence of images, which tend in themselves in the direction of a limit, which orients and inspires the first sequence (the before), and gives way to another limit (the after). The before and the after are then no longer successive determinations of the course of time, but the two sides of the power, or the passage of the power to a higher power. The direct time-image here does not appear in a an order of coexistences or simultanieties , but in a becoming as potentialization , as series of powers. This second type of chronosign, the genesign, has therefore also the property of bringing into question the notion of truth; for the false ceases to beba simple appearance or even a lie, in order to achieve that power of becoming which constitutes series or degrees, which crosses limits, carries out metamorphoses, and develops along itss whole path an act of legend, of story-telling. Beyond the true or the false, becoming as the power of the false."³

¹ G. Deleuze, Cinema 2: L'Image Temps, pp. 130-131, 7th ed. University of Minnesota Press 2003 (abridged)
² Ronald Bogue, Deleuze On Cinema, p. 149, Routledge 2003 (abridged)
³ G. Deleuze, Cinema 2: L'Image Temps, p275, 7th ed. University of Minnesota Press 2003 (abridged)

The Order of Time As A Non Chronological Time: Sheets of Past

"The Bergsonian virtual past is a single dimension in which all past events coexist. The virtual past is produced at every present moment as a "memory of the present", a virtual double of each actual present. Bergson visualizes the the virtual past as a cone, with its point representing the past's coincidence with the present, and its widening volume representing the ever-growing expanse of coexisiting past events. In that our past is preserved within itself and surges forward into the present, we can say that each present moment is a contraction of the past, a concentration of the entire cone in the point of its apex. Conversely, the endless expanse of the past may be regarded as the dilation of the present, the cone's spreading volume issuing forth fro the apex of each present moment. When we try to remember something, says Bergson, we place ourselves in the past straight away, and then traverse "a series of different planes of consciousness" in search of the given memory. Each plane is a cross section of the cone of the virtual past, a nappe de souvenirs, or "sheet of memories" (as in sheet of ice), a region of the past with its peculiar affective "tones" and its "dominant recollections, veritable brilliant points around which others form a vague nebulosity". These planes of the virtual past Deleuze calls nappes de passé, "sheets of past" and gisements, geological "layers" or "strata"."¹

"Between the past as pre-existence in general and the present as infinitely contracted past there are, therefore, all the circles of the past constituting so many stetched or shrunk regions, strata and sheets: each region with its own characteristics, its 'tones', its 'aspects', its 'singularities', its 'shining points' and its 'dominant themes'.

"These are the paradoxical characteristics of a non-chronological time: the pre-existence of a past in general; the coexistence of all the sheets of past; and the existence of a most contracted degree."²

¹ Ronald Bogue, Deleuze On Cinema, pp. 136-137, Routledge 2003
² G. Deleuze, Cinema 2: L'Image Temps, 7th ed. University of Minnesota Press 2003, p. 99

tempora sunt tria: praesens de praeteritis, praesens de praesentibus, praesens de futuris¹

"Can the present stand for the whole of time? Yes, perhaps, if we manage to separate it from its own actual quality, in the same way that we distinguish the past from the recollection-image which actualized it. If the present is actually distinguishable from the future and the past, it is because it is presence of something, which precisely stops being present when it is replaced by something else. It is in relation to the present of something else that the past and future are said of a thing. We are, then, passing along different events, in accordance with an explicit time or a form of succession which entails that a variety of things fill the present one after another. It is quite different if we are established inside one single event; if we plunge into an event that is in preparation, arrives and is over; if for a longitudinal pragmatic view we substitute a vision which is purely optical, vertical, or, rather, one in depth. The event is no longer confused with the space which serves as its place, nor with the actual present which is is in empty time that we anticipate recollection, break up what is actual and locate the recollection once it is formed. On this occasion, there is no longer a future, present and past in succession, in accordance with the explicit passage of presents which we make out. Adopting St. Augustine's fine formulation, there is a present of the future, a present of the present and a present of the past, all implicated in the event, rolled up in the event, and thus simultaneous and inexplicable. From affect to time: time is revealed inside the event, which is made from the simultaneity of these three implicated presents, from these de-actualized peaks of present.It is the possibility of treating the world or life, or simply a life or an episode, as one single event which provides the basis for the implication of the presents."²

¹ St. Augustine, Confessions, Book 11, Chapter XX (
² G. Deleuze, Cinema 2: L'Image Temps, 7th ed. University of Minnesota Press 2003, p. 100 (abridged).

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

'Water Recedes' or 'Temporalization Operating Through Memory'

"The function of depth of field: to explore each time a region of the past, a continuum.

In this freeing of depth which now subordinates all other dimensions we should see not only the conquest of a continuum but the temporal nature of this continuum: it is a continuity of duration which mean that the unbridled depth is of time and no longer of space. It is irreducible to the dimensions of space. As long as depth remained caught in the simple succession of parallel lines, it already represented time, but in an indirect way which kept it subordinate to space and movement. The new depth, in contrast, directly forms a region of time, a region of past which is defined by optical aspects or elements borrowed from interacting planes. It is a set of non-localizable connections, always from one plane to another, which constitutes the region of past or the continuum of duration.

...Our point is that depth of field creates a certain type of direct time-image that ca be defined by memory, virtual regions of past, the aspects of each region. This would be less a function of reality than a function remembering, of temporalization: not exactly a recollection, but an invitation to recollect...

It is not a case of psychological memory, made up of recollection-images. It is not a case of a succession of presents passing according to chronological time. It is either a case of an attempt to evoke, produced in a an actual present, and preceding the formation of recollection-images, or the exploration of a sheet of past from which these recollection-images will later arise. It is an on-this-side-of and a beyond of psychological memory: the two poles of a metaphysics of memory. These two extremes of memory are presented by Bergson as follows: the extension of sheets of past and the contraction of the actual present. And the two are connected, since to evoke recollection is to jump into a region of past where one assumes that it is lying in a virtual state, all the sheets or regions coexisting in relation to the contracted actual present from which the evocation proceeds (whilst they follow each other psychologically in relation to the presents that they were). Depth of field feeds on these two sources of memory. Not the recollection-image but the actual effort of evocation, to summon this up, and the exploration of virtual zones of past, to find, choose and bring it back."

G. Deleuze, Cinema 2: L'Image Temps, 7th ed. University of Minnesota Press 2003, pp. 106, 108-110 (abridged).

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

'A Proliferation of Reflections' or The 'Things I Tell You Will Not Be Wrong'

"Thus, in Deleuze's analysis, when directors systematically play with the relationship between acting and being, stage world and real world, film and reality, they are not simply questioning art's function as a re-presentation of reality. They are seeing the world as a proliferation of reflections, objective illusions that are coalescences of the actual and the virtual produced by a perpetual scission of time into the Bergsonian actual present and the virtual "memory of the present" that extends into the entirety of the virtual past."

Ronald Bogue, Deleuze On Cinema, p. 122, Routledge 2003

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Interlude 4

'To Recap' or 'Some Sort Of Overview' Part 3

How might we recognise a point of indiscernibility? In a first approximation, Deleuze says, "it is if an image in a mirror, a photo, a postcard came to life, became independent and passed in to the actual, even if the actual image went back into the mirror, took up its place in the postcard or the photo, following a double movement of liberation and capture"¹. In what Deleuze calls an "organic" description, such as one finds in nineteenth-century realistic fiction, the object described is presumed to exist independently of the description. A "crystalline" description, by contrast, is one "which counts for its object, which replaces it, creates it and erases it at the same time, as Robbe-Grillet says, and ceaselessly gives way to other descriptions that contradict, displace or modify the preceding ones"². Crystalline descriptions "reflect a purely optical situation detached from [its] motor continuation"². The crystal-image, one might conclude at this juncture, is simply another name for the opsign - the purely optical situation - but Deleuze specifies that if the opsign is detached from the sensori-motor schema, it does not necessarily bring virtual and actual together in a single point of indiscernibility. The crystal-image is the "genetic element", the "'heart' of the opsigns and their compositions," whereas opsigns "are nothing more than the shattered splinters of the crystal image"³.

The crystal-image, then, is the genetic element of image detached from the sensori-motor schema in which there is no means of distinguishing the object from its description. It would seem at this point that Deleuze is confusing two questions, one of "objective illusions", such as mirror-images, and one of "representation", or the relationship between an object in the world and and its semiotic representation, such as that of a photograph, postcard, painting or prop on a stage. But the second question presumes a clear distinction between objective reality and its description, and that distinction is made possible only by the existence of the sensori-motor schema. With its collapse, Deleuze argues, there is no means of differentiating presentation from re-presentation; the object and its appearance are one. No longer are there objects and their mechanical or artistic representations, but simply images.

Bergson says that the "memory of the present" is a virtual reflection of the actual present, and that in the rare moments when we encounter the present's doubling of virtual and actual we are like actors watching ourselves on a stage. Deleuze suggests that in the crystal-image, we are not simply like actors, but we are actors - that all the world is a the sense that in the absence of a sensori-motor schema the world becomes a theater/spectacle/film of animated reflections/photos/postcards, a play of images in which the virtual and actual are indiscernible because they co-exist in the real (and not just "in our heads"). This rapprochement of optical mirrors and mimetic enactments, we should note, leads Deleuze to treat the elements of crystal-image films as "reflections" in the broadest sense of the term. At times he speaks of actual mirror images in such films, at others or mechanical reproductions of images in photos, films or video clips. But he also treats paintings and theatrical performances as reflections of objects, extending the notion as well to include simulations, mimings, and the enactment of roles as so many mirror images. Finally, he treats resemblances and correspondences between objects, settings characters, and actions as reflections - perhaps prismatically distorted, tinted, bleached or clouded, but reflections nonetheless."⁴

¹ G. Deleuze, Cinema 2: L'Image Temps, 7th ed. University of Minnesota Press 2003, p. 68.
² G. Deleuze, Cinema 2: L'Image Temps, 7th ed. University of Minnesota Press 2003, p. 126.
³ G. Deleuze, Cinema 2: L'Image Temps, 7th ed. University of Minnesota Press 2003, p. 69
⁴Ronald Bogue, Deleuze On Cinema, pp. 118 - 121, Routledge 2003 (abridged)

'To Recap' or 'Some Sort Of Overview' Part 2

"In some images, claims Deleuze, we see the point of indiscernibility itself - in what he calls time crystals, whosr corresponding signs are halyosigns (from Greek hyalos, glass). Bergson once again provides Deleuze with much of the scaffolding for his analysis. Bergson examines the uncanny phenomenon of déjà-vu and concludes that this uneasy and vague sense of having already experienced a present event stems from the fundamental nature of time, perception and memory. Bergson...argues that memories and perceptions must be qualitatively different from each other. He asks, When is a memory formed? And his conclusion is such that such an event must take place in the present - in the future makes no sense, and if at some juncture in the past, there would be a memoryless "dead zone" between the present and the whatever point in the past one should choose as the initial memory formation. There must then, be a "memory of the present",a virtual-image that co-exists with each perception-image in the present, a virtual double that is like a reflection in a mirror.

Deleuze insists, that Bergson's virtual domain, though mental and reflective, is noot that of personal subjectivity. In his first book, Bergson does conceive of memory in terms of an individual consciousness, but in Matter and Memory and Creative Evolution, he argues that the past preserves itself by and in itself, that the past exists as a single domain and hence as a kind of gigantic memory. The ocean of memory is the virtual past, which gushes forth at each present moment in a perpetual foundation of time.

In Bergson's schema of attentive recollection, the smallest circuit is labeled AO, and the absence of an A' is explained by the fact that perception, when seized in this marrowest instant if the present, allows no clear separation of A from O. The present is immediately double, an actual present perception and a virtual memory of the present, a mobile mirror that is the ongoing splitting and coexistence or actual and virtual, physical and mental, present and past. Though expressed as two terms, AO is a two-in-one, a point of indiscernibility. Like a mirror image that joins actual object and virtual reflection, the point of indiscernibility is an "objective illusion", not something simply "in our heads"; it is a real doubling in which virtual and actual are distinct but unassignable, in a relation of "mutual presupposition" or "reversibility"".

Ronald Bogue, Deleuze On Cinema, pp. 117 - 118, Routledge 2003 (abridged)

Fig. 1:

Sunday, 18 May 2008

'To Recap' or 'Some Sort Of Overview' Part 1

"Deleuze's first goal is to indicate how the opsign may "open itself" to the time-image. If the opsign is dissociated from the sensori-motor schema - how might one opsign be linked to another? Memory provides a convenient starting point for such an investigation.

Deleuze's treatment of memory images is framed in the terms Bergson uses to analyze the phenomena or recognition and attention. To recognise an object is to revive a past memory of it and note its resemblance to the present object. Such recognition is most often automatic and unconscious, unlike the recognition that occurs when we consciously pay attention to an object and its various characteristics.

Attentive recognition does not differ qualitatively from automatic recognition. In both cases, we summon up a memory-image and project it on to the object. In attentive recognition, the object and each memory-image form a circuit. As we pay closer attention to the object, we summon up memory-images from broader and more distant past contexts, each wider context encompassing the narrower.

Deleuze uses Bergson's analysis of automatic and attentive recognition as a means of approaching opsigns. In attentive recognition, the sensori-motor schema is relaxed. The habitual linkage of memory and perception within action ceases for a moment and a present object forms circuits with memory-images which are then projected onto the object. Similarly, Deleuze argues, in the pure optical situation the sensori-motor schema is suspended, and an object gives rise to a virtual image - often, a memory, a dream, or a thought."

Ronald Bogue, Deleuze On Cinema, pp. 111-114, Routledge 2003 (abridged)

Thursday, 24 April 2008

The Inverse Cone Representing Sheets of Past

"Bergson gave an assured status to the first image. This is model of the inverse cone. The past in not to be confused with the mental existence of recollection-images which actualize it in us. It is preserved in time: it is the virtual element which we penetrate to look for the 'pure recollection' which will become actual in a 'recollection-image'. Memory is not in us; it is we who move in a Being-memory, a world-memory. The present exists only as an infinitely contracted past which is constituted at the extreme point of the already-there. The present would not pass on without this condition.

Between the past as pre-existence in general and the present as infinitely contracted past, there are, therefore, all the circles of the past constituting so many stretched or shrunk regions, strata, and sheets: each region with its own characteristics, its 'tones', its 'aspects', its 'singularities', its 'shining points' and its 'dominant themes'. We have to put ourselves into the past in general, then we have to choose between the regions: in which one do we think that the recollection is hidden, huddled up waiting for us and evading us?"

G. Deleuze, Cinema 2: L'Image Temps, 7th ed. University of Minnesota Press 2003, p. 98. 99 (abridged).

Fig. 5: H. Bergson, Matière et Mémoire, 7th printing, Zone Books, 2002, p. 162.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Blue Notez or Ideational Apraxia

"This spontaneous recollection, which is masked by the acquired recollection, may flash out at intervals, but it disappears at the least movement of the voluntary memory.

The faculty of mental photography...belongs rather to subconsciousness than to consciousness; it answers with difficulty the summons of the will. In order to exercise it, we should accustom ourselves to reatining, for instance, several arrangements of points at once, without even thinking of counting them: we must imitate in some sort the instantaneity of this memory in order to attain its mastery.

Even so it remains capricious in its manifestations; as the recollections which it brings are akin to dreams, its more regular intrusion into the life of the mind may seriously disturb intellectual equillibrium."

H. Bergson, Matière et Mémoire, 7th printing, Zone Books, 2002, pp. 87-88.

Spontaneous Recollection

"What the crystal reveals or makes visible is the hidden ground of time, that is, its differentiation into two flows, that of presents which pass and that of pasts which are preserved. There are, therefore, already, two possible time-images, one grounded in the past, the other in the present. Each is complex and is valid for time as a whole."

G. Deleuze, Cinema 2: L'Image Temps, 7th ed. University of Minnesota Press 2003, p. 98.

"The past indeed appears to be stored up, as we had surmised, under two extreme forms: on the one hand, motor mechanisms which make use of it; on the other, personal memory-images which picture all pst events with their outline, their colour and their place in time. Of these two memories the first follows the direction of nature; the second left to itself would rather got the contrary way. The first, conquered by effort, remains dependent on our will; the second, entirely spontaneous, is as capricious in reproducing as it is faithful in preserving."

H. Bergson, Matière et Mémoire, 7th printing, Zone Books, 2002, p. 88

Monday, 10 March 2008

Thursday, 28 February 2008

'Also Extraordinary Things. Revel In Your Time.' Or, 'Mirrors Or Seeds Of Time'

"What constitutes the crystal is the most fundamental operation of time. Time has to split itself in two at each moment as present and of which is launched towards the future while the other falls into the past. Time consists of this split and it is this, it is time, that we see in the crystal.

Bergson adds...the crystal constantly exchanges the two distinct images which constitute it, the actual image of the present which passes and the virtual image of the past which is preserved: distinct yet indiscernible.

The crystal lives at the limit, it is itself 'the vanishing limit between the immediate past which is no longer and the immediate future which is not yet...[a] mobile mirror which endlessly reflects perception in recollection'.

The crystal-image is then, the point of indiscernibility of the two distinct images, the actual and the virtual, while what we see in the crystal is time itself, a bit of time in a pure state, the very distinction between the two images which keeps on reconstituting itself."

G. Deleuze, Cinema 2: L'Image Temps, 7th ed. University of Minnesota Press 2003, pp. 81,82, 274 (abridged), italics mine.