16 Mar 2009

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

Gilles Deleuze

Différence et répétition
Difference and Repetition

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

Fourth paragraph of the chapter.

Previously we considered Bergson's example of the qualitatively contracted bell tolls. Before that we have been examining Hume's constant conjunctions, like Fire & Heat, or AB, AB, AB, A...
In Bergson's case, there were only so many bell tolls, and then they ceased tolling the hour. So it was just that limited group that became contracted together. This would be an example of a "closed repetition." However, Hume's causal relations lead us to anticipate their recurrence in the future. And these future instances will change the qualitative character of the contracted whole. So we would consider Hume's conjunctions to be an "open repetition."

There is another way the two repetitions are different. Bergson's bell tolls are all the same single elements: A A A A ... or "tick, tick, tick, tick ..." if it were on a clock. But Hume's conjunctions are parings: AB AB AB AB A ... or "tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick..." We see that in Bergson's case, all the elements in general contract. So all A's contract together. But in Hume's case, the process is more complex. First, we take each instance as different, even if only slightly. So we first obtain A, B, C, D, E, F,...

The memory keeps these recorded in their order of succession. But the imagination is able to rearrange the order of ideas [§24.] And the imagination first notes that in each case, the two experiences, fire & heat, were conjoined. So we contract each particular case into conjuncts AB, CD, EF. [

Our imaginations associate strongly things that are similar. So it assimilates all the fires and all the heats together. This then makes them all AB, AB, AB.

Our imaginations then have multiple groupings of AB. Each time we obtain another AB grouping, that increases the force of association from A to B. Hence we can consider there being a third contraction of all the AB's together into a united force [§287]. In this way, all the AB groupings in general are taken together, just as all of Bergson's A's were taken together. So this is likewise a contraction of elements in general.

So we see that the main difference between Hume's and Bergson's contractions is that Hume's involves the particular contractions into conjuncts. These pairings are not the same, like all the bell tolls are the same. They are rather opposing experiences that occur together, like fire and heat ("tock being the inverse of tick"). Deleuze says that there is a function to this opposition between the paired A and B. This ensures that the most elementary repetition is a group of two. If it were just one, then we could not have absolute differences between each individual case. But because there are these contractions of particulars, this preserves their original individuality. However, it also institutes the generality of the conjoined pairings AB. In one sense, the repetitions are limited to at least groupings of two. However, because the generality has been set, this opens the possibility for there to be an infinity of repetitions. And because the elemental units for each new general pairing is first a particular (a G, H, I, J, K, etc), then the generalities as a whole change with each addition (just as Bergson explains that the melody as a whole changes with each additional note). So for this reason, Hume's pairings allow for the creation of "new living generalities."

We could not have AB, AB, AB, A... unless first we had A and B enclosed together. So the open repetition of cases AB is made open only by means of the "closure of a binary oppositions between elements." (72c) But even Bergson's seemingly open repetition of four bell tolls A, A, A, A is also based on a closure. The four strokes indicated four o'clock in the evening. But it would not be four in the evening if it were not closed by an oppositional pairing with four in the morning.

So we see that in passive synthesis, both closed and open repetitions refer to each other. The repetition of such cases as AB presupposes the repetition of elements A, B, C, D, ... While the repetition of elements A, A, A, A presupposes there is one case of four A's and another case of four A's. The clock really makes the same sound over and over: tick, tick, tick, tick. But we hear it as tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. This is because on the one hand we need an element of differentiation, so that there are new tickings. But on the other hand we also need the most basic generality possible, so that there are repetitions. Hence we make the most basic binary pairing of tick-tock, and take this to be the repeated case.

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

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