16 Mar 2009

Deleuze, Différence et répétition (Difference and Repetition), Chap 2, third paragraph

Corry Shores
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Gilles Deleuze

Différence et répétition
Difference and Repetition

Chapitre II: La répétition pour elle-même
Chapter II: Repetition for Itself

Third paragraph of the chapter.

Each time we touch fire, we feel heat. Because we continually experience the conjunction of fire and heat recur over-and-over again, there is grounds for us to obtain the idea of repetition. But we also noted how each new occurrence contracts with the rest. This changes the qualitative nature for the idea of this causal relation. It also increases our tendency to mentally move from the idea of flame to the idea of heat. So each new instance of a repetition alters our mind. When we consider the way that our mind becomes altered in this way, we are no longer concerned with the conditions that allowed for the object to repeat in the first place. Each instance creates a mental change. Hence we are concerned with "the general form of difference" when we examine these mental alterations.

For an additional instance to be new, it must be different. But for it to contract with the other similar instances, it must be a repetition. So for us to form the idea of repetition, we need to pass back-and-forth between these two limits. That is to say, we need to both
a) conceive each new repetition in terms of the conditions that make it another of the same occurrence, while also
b) conceiving each new instance as being different and causing change to our mind.

To understand Deleuze's next reference, let's review what Hume has to say about memory and imagination.

The memory preserves the impression in its original form: "the chief exercise of the memory is not to preserve the simple ideas, but their order and position." (Hume Treatise 9a) The imagination, however, is at liberty to transpose and change its ideas. And it is the imagination that contracts the constantly conjoined (AB) objects. But the memory never forgets that they are two distinct things (A & B). [see §24]

Deleuze notes that we move between these two limits, that is, between repetition and difference. The memory retains the individual difference of not only each AB pairing, but also the difference between each A and each B. So on the one hand, the memory preserves the pure difference between every instance. In this way, really the memory retains a series A, B, C, D, E.... Then the imagination sees that A and B are found together. Afterwards, it notices that C and D are conjoined as well. Furthermore, it finds A to resemble C, and B to resemble D. Then, it contracts the pairings together to get a repetition of AB, AB rather than A, B, C, D. So there is also a movement towards the imagination's finding the conditions for there to be repetitions whose differences are put aside for the sake of the contraction. [See §215, §218, §219; §234; §310; §333, §352, §355 ]

We also saw how the imagination's contractions draw from patterns in the past to anticipate occurrences in the future. All the past conjunctions of fire & heat (A&B) tell us that when in the future we encounter fire (A), we should expect heat (B) to be conjoined to it. But the memory however does not contract all these instances into the same "space."

Recall also Hume's example of the flute that plays five notes. We obtain a sense of time by contracting all successive things together. So with each new note, we have a new sense of time. But everything we experience happened in a succession. For, before we heard the notes, we saw the musician prepare. Before that we sensed the chair we then sat upon. And so on. So with the contraction of each new thing in terms of its manner of succession, we obtain a new qualitative impression of the temporality that accompanies each new object in the succession. In this way, even if our imaginations contract all the succeeding instances of fire together, each one still has its own qualitative temporal feel to it. By means of this distinction, the memory may then maintain the order of the terms in the succession. But time is only the contraction occurring with each new impression that we currently have. So for the memory to give each term its own "temporal space" is for it to actively reconstitute the work that the imagination has already done. And, we saw that the imagination automatically "infers" things about the future by means of the contracted causal pairings. We infer that we will warm-up when we see fire. But after the memory separates all the previous successive terms into their own "temporal space," then they can be quantified. In this way our understanding makes predictions by weighing our imagination's automatic expectations against the actual quantities of previous cases that we recall from our memory. Thereby, the immediate future of anticipation becomes the reflexive future of prediction. So in other words, the active synthesis of the memory is built-from and superimposed-upon the passive synthesis of the imagination.

With this extra level of synthesis, we may distinguish three instantiations of repetition:
1) recall first Deleuze's "rule of discontinuity or instantaneity in repetition." This law states that (for everything except minds) one instance cannot appear until the previous instance disappears. But instances are constantly appearing. Hence as they appear, they are already disappearing. Each repetition is not in a relation with the other repetitions, because only one is present at a time. So Deleuze calls this the "in-itself" of repetition. For, it is repetition, but to itself it is the only instance present.
2) when we passively synthesize the repetitions together, then they become repetitions in relation to each other. So in this case, the repetition bears its relation of repetition to its other repeated instances. Before, it could only relate to itself, and be a repetition unto itself. But now it can be a repetition whose repetitiveness is there for itself. So this is the "for-itself" of repetition.
3) then our memories may give each instance its own place rather than contract them together. So because they are separated, we might not say that this sort of repetition is for the repetitions themselves, because it is not by their own associative means that they are considered repetitions. Rather, it is only by our active syntheses that we place them in a way that to us they are repetitions, even if the repetitions themselves lose their own associative and assimilative relations to one another. However, we saw already that this way to represent the repeated cases is grounded on the passive synthesis.

Bergson finds a similar relation between active and passive synthesis. Recall Bergson's example of the bell tolling the hour. He is distracted with his writing, so he does not attend to the first four strokes. But then he begins counting. The question is, how did he know there were four tolls that he missed?

The bell's tolling has a cause: the clapper hammering the strike-point. Each time it does so, the previous instance no longer exists [like the swings of the pendulum; see §57 and §66]. In this way, each toll exists without there necessarily being other ones. Hence each is logically independent from the rest. So the bell is a mens momentanea or momentary mind: it can only retain contrary impulses for just an instant. But our mind can retain them all our life.

Now recall how Bergson was able to determine that there were four tolls. He says that multiplicities have qualitative feels to them. So even before we know the quantity of a multiplicity, we know how that quantity feels. And when you add another thing to the succession, the whole obtains a new character. Just like when listening to a melody. Each new note adds to the character of the whole. So Bergson then called to mind the image of just one toll. But this number of tolls did not have the quality for the whole group. He imagined two, then three. But still not the same feel. Then he imagined four, and obtained the qualitative feeling he had of the total group of tolls. Thus first he knows the quantity in a qualitative way, then afterward he may determine its quantity.

Deleuze writes that without the help of memory or calculation, we contract all four strokes into an "internal qualitative impression within this living present or passive synthesis which is duration." (72a) We then restore each part of the multiplicity in an auxiliary ideal homogeneous space. This is the "derived time" that allows us to reproduce the repetitions so that we may reflect on them or count them as we do all our other quantifiable external impressions.

Deleuze, Gilles. Différence et répétition. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1968

Deleuze, Gilles, Difference & Repetition. Transl. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature. Ed. L.A Selby-Bigge. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979.

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