28 Sep 2011

Wim Wenders, Entry Directory


by
Corry Shores
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Entry Directory for
Wim Wenders



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Alice in the Cities / Alice in den Städten / Alice dans les villes

Only Thing to Fear. Wim Wenders. Alice in the Cities / Alice in den Städten / Alice dans les villes

Deleuze Cinema Update: Only Thing to Fear. Wim Wenders. Alice in the Cities / Alice in den Städten / Alice dans les villes




Im Lauf der Zeit / Kings of the Road



The American Friend / Der amerikanische Freund / L'Ami américain


The Other Only Thing to Fear. Wim Wenders. The American Friend / Der amerikanische Freund / L'Ami américain

[Deleuze Cinema Update: The Other Only Thing to Fear. Wim Wenders. The American Friend / Der amerikanische Freund / L'Ami américain]



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Stanly Kubrick Entry Directory


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Corry Shores
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nth Awareness. Phenomenology of Deleuze's Difference & Repetition series


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Corry Shores
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[James DiFrisco is an extraordinarily talented and erudite scholar researching at the Husserl Archives and Centre for Phenomenology at the University of Leuven in Belgium. He has organized a Deleuze Difference & Repetition reading group. This Phenomenology of Deleuze's Difference & Repetition series will translate concepts from the text into phenomenological discourse.]


nth Awareness

Phenomenology of
Deleuze's Difference & Repetition, series


What does infinite phenomenal implication got to do with you?

We might have some experience that causes us to look back at past moments in our lives and view them differently. This is continually going on. The meaning of our lives is in flux. Any one moment of our life can in the future take on any of a variety of unforeseeable significances. This is because all these other elaborations are contained implicitly in that moment. Let's consider a time when we were deceived by someone and later found out. Often times, we later remember that while we were being deceived, something did not feel right about the situation. There was something implicit in that moment that only later came to light. The future discovery of the deception recalls that prior moment, and in that way repeats it. But when it first happened, because it was felt implicitly, it was in a way repeated in advance. The moment that we treated as ok was also already given as repeating again in our awareness as deceit. Contained in all moments of our lives is an infinity of virtual repetitions, all given instantaneously and immediately, without the passage of time.


Brief Summary

Each act of awareness gives us its repetitions already from the beginning, but in the form of implicit virtual variations that can later be made explicit in future acts of awareness that recall the prior moment.


Points relative to Deleuze

A Deleuzean phenomenology would focus primarily on the absolute immediacy of our awareness.


nth Awareness

We will need to conceive of an immediate repetition. But doesn't repetition need time? No, not necessarily. We have explored previously Deleuze's motionless version of Bergson's duration. A Deleuzean phenomenal time would be intense and immediate. Time would be fully given in the absolute present somehow, in a flash, with the dimension of time being an intensive depth rather than an extensive distance. When we abruptly notice signs of age, we sense years have passed in that instant of non-self-recognizative self-awareness. We feel a depth of time, rather than feel its gradual continuous passing for an extent of some years.

We also discussed in that entry bifurcation. There were two related senses of bifurcation. One is forking-off in a new direction. The other is moving down multiple paths of development simultaneously. Let's focus on the first kind of spontaneous forking. We had this to say:
We see the relation between bifurcation and flashback shown even more vividly in Mankiewicz’ A Letter to Three Wives. In this story, a woman writes a letter to three wives saying she ran off with one of their husbands, but she does not specify which one. This is a forking in their lives, and it causes them to recall prior forkings in the past that foreshadowed the current situation. In one wife’s recollection, we see her discover a possible reason her husband might have left with the other woman. Her face makes a certain expression that is almost identical with her current one, as if in her past she was already flashing forward to the future. And likewise, events in the present unfold where she gets news that seems to confirm her suspicions, and she makes that same facial expression again, linking all three moments together.

video



So when something happens in our lives that takes us down a diverging unexpected path, we on the one hand might flash back to another forking in the past that only implicitly hinted at the current bifurcation; yet on the other hand, we are already living the present moment as a memory given in advance of its future recollection, only we don’t know yet what future forkings will bring out the present moment’s implicit significance. In the instant of the flashback, past, present, and future are all simultaneous and immediate to our consciousness, as if we are always in a way standing outside of time’s flow and experiencing events from the perspective of eternity. [from Shores, Motionless Duration in Deleuze's Bergson, 2011]
We might begin to notice that every moment of our awareness presents some newness. Even if we stare at a boring still scene for a long time, our imaginations might take over and give us various new things to have in mind. Every moment is a forking of some sort, a diverging down a new path of awareness. And thus every moment gives new cause to recall past moments and revise our grasp of them. As well, every moment of our awareness provides new memories whose implicit contents and meanings will later be explicated by another divergence in our awareness.

This means that each moment of our awareness will repeat itself, each time as something new, in the form of variational recollections of it. Consider when the wife first noticed her husband with the other woman. She sensed some deeper meaning in this plot twist in her life, but she did not know explicitly what that significance was. Later she receives the letter from the other woman saying she ran off with one of the husbands. This is a plot twist that recalls an implicit meaning in the prior plot twist. So there was something implicit in moment A that became explicit in moment B. Later she gets the note that seems to indicate her husband is the one who ran off with the woman. This brings moment A out yet again, telling more of its significance.

Each moment of our awareness has in it already all its repetitions, but only in implicit form. They are all packed into that instant. Because it is just an instant, these moments do not present an extending time line like the one that eventually follows. Rather, they present all these virtual explications as implicit tendencies for that moment to repeat variationally. They are given as virtual intensities.

This is repetition in immediacy. Each moment of our awareness is implicitly an infinity of virtual repetitions, each one a repetition not because it is the same thing over and over, but because it is a variation based on the same seed. Yet every seed is already a variation on another, so somehow there is no act of awareness that is the ultimate seed. Variation itself is somehow primary. If we had an initial act of awareness, it was not so much a thing we were aware of as much as we were aware of variation itself, perhaps in the transition from non-awareness to awareness.

So we consider this passage from the introduction to Difference & Repetition:
perhaps this repetition at the level of external conduct echoes, for its own part, a more secret vibration which animates it, a more profound, internal repetition within the singular. This is the apparent paradox of festivals: they repeat an 'unrepeatable'. They do not add a second and a third time to the first, but carry the first time to the 'nth' power. With respect to this power, repetition interiorizes and thereby reverses itself: as Péguy says, it is not Federation Day which commemorates or represents the fall of the Bastille, but the fall of the Bastille which celebrates and repeats in advance all the Federation Days; or Monet's first water lily which repeats all the others. (1968: 7-8 / 1994: 1d)

[Later Deleuze writes of repetitions happening: "dans un instant" (10b / 3c); and he writes regarding the n in nth: "what is important in principle is 'n' times as the power of a single time, without the need to pass through a second or a third time" (10b / 3d)]
A large part of the phenomenal richness of any act of awareness is its infinite wealth of implicit virtual repetitions, contained all within that instant of consciousness. Each variational recollection takes that moment to a new level of phenomenal significance, takes it to a higher power, with no upper bounds (nth power) as if it were an infinite Russian doll series.

Further in the chapter Deleuze writes:
With habit, we act only on the condition that there is a little Self within us which contemplates: it is this which extracts the new - in other words, the general - from the pseudo-repetition of particular cases. Memory, then, perhaps recovers the particulars dissolved in generality. (15c / 7d)
Each moment of consciousness is unique. When we think to ourselves that a present event resembles a past one, we are extracting something new from these moments, which would be whatever generality we impose on them. We might express love for a sibling, and call that love like the love we expressed for a romantic partner. But these expressions of love were perfectly unique and singular when they happened. We add something to both, the generality of both being love, when we associate them. But this is just habitual contraction (see this entry from the Second chapter on habitual contractions). Memory is more a matter of bifurcation. It would seem that the memory-linked moments of the wife's life conjoin on account of their semblance. But really they join because there is a particular in the prior instance that is ignored by the generality of their assimilation.

Deleuze continues:
repetition is the thought of the future [...]. It is in repetition and by repetition that Forgetting becomes a positive power while the unconscious becomes a | positive and superior unconscious [...]. When Kierkegaard speaks of repetition as the second power of consciousness, 'second' means not a second time but the infinite which belongs to a single time, the eternity which belongs to an instant, the unconscious which belongs to consciousness, the 'nth' power. (15d / 7-8)
In an act of awareness, we said, there are implicitly enveloped virtual repetitions of variational recollections. This immanent repetition, then, is the 'thought of the future'. The unconscious is our implicit awareness of these virtual repetitions, and under this function it is 'a positive and superior unconscious', because it has the power of infinite recreation. Forgetting is what allows those repetitions to spring up in the future in sudden realizations and recollections. Hence forgetting becomes a positive creational power in this immanent repetition. Thus repetition is the "infinite which belongs to a single time, the eternity which belongs to an instant, the unconscious which belongs to consciousness, the 'nth' power". This infinite belongs to a 'second' time. It is not second in order. In fact, the implicit time of virtual repetitions could very well be more primordial, because it immanently opens channels for explication throughout the extending passage of time.

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

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

Frank Capra, Entry Directory

by Corry Shores
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Arsenic and Old Lace

Voice of Poison. Frank Capra. Arsenic and Old Lace

[Deleuze Cinema Update: Voice of Poison. Frank Capra. Arsenic and Old Lace]



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John Ford, Entry Directory

by Corry Shores
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How Green Was My Valley

Chromes of Green. Ford. How Green Was My Valley


[Deleuze Cinema Update: Chromes of Green. Ford. How Green Was My Valley]




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27 Sep 2011

The Action and Passion of Present Time, §k, Prt.3, Ch.2, Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception



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The Action and Passion of Present Time


Maurice Merleau-Ponty


Phénoménologie de la perception
Phenomenology of Perception


Troisième Partie : L'être-pour-soi et l'être-au-monde
Part III. Being-for-Itself and Being-in-the-World



Ch. 2. La temporalité
Ch. 2. Temporality


What does the present as the source of your time, and your dually active and passive engagement with time's passing, go to do with you?

Some part of us puts all the continuously changing moments of our lives together in order to make the whole of our life-time. Our present moment seems free for the most part to go anywhere. So we feel active in the present. Yet, in order to make the moments of our lives pass by together in one continuous flow, we do not need to exert any extra mental effort, so in that sense it is passive. If we want to become aware of this process, we need to be highly attentive to what is going on right now. We need to feel the motion of time, feel ourselves constantly changing with each moment. Who are we? We seem to be the movement of these changes itself.


Brief Summary

The thrust of time is our consciousness. Its source is always the immediate present. It is both fully active and yet fully passive. It is active because it is presently spontaneously in action. It is passive, because we are this action itself, and thus our consciousness need not introduce any additional action so to synthesize the parts.


Points relative to Deleuze

Deleuze phenomenal time would be dually active and passive, but for different reasons. Time consciousness is a matter of the affection from logically incompatible impressions given simultaneously but whose incompossibility suggests a temporal tension between them. When we see ourselves in the mirror and notice signs of age, the image we had for ourselves collides with the image we see. This gives us time as an intensity, and this is the passive reception of a shock. But simultaneous with the passive reception is our self-affective modifications, the production of which is what Deleuze calls 'rhythm', and it is the active side. When we have these experiences of self-disidentification, do we collapse; does our identity disintegrate? Instead, we alter how we feel, how we perceive ourselves, how we interact with others, so that we can sustain ourselves despite the shock of the temporal affection. This self-affecting that is simultaneous with temporal-affection is like dancing with time, it is 'rhythm'. The flow of time is a product of this rhythm, and it is our active contribution. When we see the older self in the mirror, we are shocked by the affect of two years difference given immediately. This is not time passing, but sudden intense time. We then change ourselves to move beyond the shock, so that the next time we look in the mirror it is less shocking. This moving beyond the temporal affection is synthesizing time so that it extends beyond moments of immediacy. We create a new variation of ourself, which shockingly contrasts with how we just were. Because we are continually being affected, we are continually modifying ourselves rhythmically. Our always feeling a shock from moment to moment is our sense of time's passage. But it is really a series of discontinuous moments, whose temporal character is synthesized by means of the intensities of their differences.




The continuous thrust of the flow of time is the same as our subjectivity and self-consciousness, and it is a self-affective openness and launch toward an other. Our immediate field of awareness has explicit and implicit contents. Certain implicit contents call to our curiosities to bring our explicit awareness upon them. Before moving our explicit awareness to them, we were protentionally aware of them. And what we were just explicitly aware of is now in our implicit retentional awareness. The thrust of time is this movement between implicit and explicit protentions and retentions. To arrive at the coming awareness, the present awareness becomes aware of another part of itself that is immediate although implicit, on the horizons or margins of our consciousness as a protention. So the current act of consciousness self-affectively modifies itself (turning implicit to explicit as explicit turns implicit), and as a result, temporal relations transition (future becomes present, present becomes past). It is in this way that the self-affection is the thrust of time. But since the next act of consciousness is distinct in that it has unique explicit contents that were not explicit in all other acts, this is still a movement of consciousness towards otherness. But this is in fact our otherness, because the thrust is our subjectivity. This is because the thrust is continuous. Although it is the movement of one conscious act away from itself, every such act involves this same movement, and they synthesize as a continuous transition. This makes all parts belong together as belonging to our current act of consciousness. It is self-consciousness, because as a process in action, the implicit and explicit awareness blur together, such that one part of our awareness is aware of another part (the explicit and implicit), so long as we understand the process as being in motion.


Summary §k

The thrust of phenomenal time's transition-synthesis is not a passive synthesis, but a certain kind. It is not that our consciousness is the passive receiver of a multiplicity of conscious acts. Rather, it is passive in the sense that we do not synthesize the contents as if we were standing outside the flow and constituting it synthetically. Instead, we are inside the flow, and we ourselves are the synthesis. To be who we are, and to be conscious of time, and for the moments to integrate, we do not need to perform an additional action.
What is called passivity is not the acceptance by us of an alien reality, or a causal action exerted upon us from outside: it is being encompassed, being in a situation—prior to which we do not exist—which we are perpetually resuming and which is constitute of us. A spontaneity ‘acquired’ once and for all, and one which ‘perpetuates itself in being in virtue of its being acquired’ is precisely time and subjectivity. (1945: 490 bc / 496cd)
Merleau-Ponty does not agree with Heidegger that time somehow flows from the future and has its future in advance. Phenomenologically speaking, phenomena, including the phenomenon of time, are given in the present, and we cannot but view the past and future from the perspective of the present. Thus time is spontaneous and springs from the present.

We are not temporal beings because we are spontaneous and because, as consciousnesses, we tear ourselves away from ourselves. On the contrary, time is the foundation and measure of our spontaneity, and the power of out-running and of ‘nihilating’ (‘néantiser’) which dwells within us and is ourselves, is itself given to us with temporality and life. (491a / 497b)
We need to view the thrust of time as fully and dully active and passive, as Husserl would have it. It is active because we now at the present moment are at the heart of time's spontaneity. But it is passive in the sense that it is immediately given as our continuous synthesis of it, and thus we do not apply any additional action in order to bring the parts together.

Our birth, or, as Husserl has it in his unpublished writings, our ‘generativity’, is the basis both of our activity or individuality, and our passivity or generality—that inner weakness which prevents us from ever achieving the density of an absolute individual. We are not in some incomprehensible way an activity joined to a passivity, an automatism surmounted by a will, a perception surmounted by a judgement, but wholly active and wholly passive, because we are the upsurge of time. (491b / 497c)


Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phénoménologie de la perception. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1945.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Transl. Colin Smith. London/New York: Routledge, 1958.



Sidney Lumet, Entry Directory

by Corry Shores

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[Deleuze Cinema Update: A Jury's Hanging. Lumet. Twelve Angry Men]



Network

Doubles of Transmission. Sidney Lumet. Network

[Deleuze Cinema Update: Doubles of Transmission. Sidney Lumet. Network]



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We are Time's Thrust toward an Other, §j of Merleau-Ponty, Prt.3, Ch.2, Phenomenology of Perception

by Corry Shores

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We are Time's Thrust toward an Other

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Phénoménologie de la perception
Phenomenology of Perception

Troisième Partie : L'être-pour-soi et l'être-au-monde
Part III. Being-for-Itself and Being-in-the-World


Ch. 2. La temporalité
Ch. 2. Temporality


What does your temporal self-escape got to do with you?

There is time throughout our lives, filled with distinct moments that stand-out from one another. Are we the same person we were at a younger age? We no longer conduct some of those behaviors. The time of our life passes. And who we are passes. They are the same thing; we are our own continuous passing-away (from ourselves).


Brief Summary

The dynamics and the contents of the temporal flow of conscious acts are jointly one thing: our subjectivity. The thrust of the flow is continuous, but it produces internal self-differentiations. It is responsible both for the continuous alteration of our awareness, but also of the dynamic continuity that links them together and to our current consciousness. Consciousness in the flow and consciousness of the flow are not distinct. This is because the transition from one present consciousness to the succeeding one is a matter of something implicit in the prior becoming explicit in the successor. So in other words, this temporal flow is a matter of our consciousness always being in the act of becoming aware of something already inherent to it, although implicitly so. Temporal thrust = subjective continuity = self-consciousness. The motion of the thrust, although being self-awareness, is still motion to an other act of awareness, so it is the self's openness and motion toward an other to it. But because it involves itself changing one part of its awareness from explicit to implicit, and another part from implicit to explicit, it is a self-modifying self-affection.

Points relative to Deleuze

Although consciousness involves a flux-synthesis, we ask, is there something more phenomenologically primordial? Rather than thinking that the present is a blur blending into the past and present, in our Deleuzean phenomenology, we will regard the present in its absolute immediacy, as an instant of phenomenal experience. Consider when we strike a match. There is a moment right before the flame bursts, that we can already feel the flame being there, even before it becomes something we explicitly see. But at that instant right before it bursts, as a phenomenon, we fully anticipate it, we already see it in a way, but just not explicitly with our eyes. Phenomenologically speaking, the flame appears to us as completely real even before it is completely apparent. Let's stress something: our most phenomenal experiences are these moments of intense variation when a differential future or past appears immediately in the present. If we witness a horrific traffic accident, something appears to us presently that is completely incompatible with what we just saw, which is now in the past. And the differential shock between these moments is phenomenal. It stands out and appears outside the flow of time. There was barely a moment between the immediate past and immediate present. And yet it feels like so much has transpired. Here we feel time as a phenomenon. It gives us change in immediacy. When we abruptly notice signs of age when looking in the mirror or discovering our bodies cannot do what they used to do, we are given years within that realization. Here the phenomenon of the self is given to us with the phenomenon of time, all without time ever passing, without its motion yet being taken into account or synthesized. In a Deleuzean phenomenology, an act of phenomenal awareness is not opening up and thrusting toward an other. It is already an other. The motion of time is not what allows our acts of consciousness to go from one to the other, rather, it is only because our acts of consciousness are already both one and other that they have the expulsive force to move away from one another. But how did they both come to coincide? We need to change our foundational phenomenal temporal principle from succession to simultaneity. We think of time as a flow of change, and thus as a matter of pure succession. But we are analyzing phenomenality. When is an act of consciousness most phenomenal? In an instant of incompatible simultaneities. When do we ourselves stand out most pronounced and undeniably to ourselves? When the self we sense is different then the self we assumed we were; when our variations are simultaneous. When does a passage of time stand out most prominently to us? Is it when we are bored waiting for the bus? Perhaps. Or is it when we are the opposite of bored, and we were so engrossed in our work that we look at the clock and notice hours have passed that seemed like minutes. The formula for time, self, and phenomena in Deleuze is "I am also another".



The intertwinement and continuous thrust of time might lead us to characterize phenomenal time as standing somehow outside the flow of consciousness and being eternal in that way. But this cannot be so, because the thrust is in an actual changing present and the parts of time integrate only by means of the relations created by the real current durational present. Our being is our phenomenal immersion in the world right now in the present. And our conscious awareness is this phenomenal relation as well. Thus in the present, being and consciousness coincide.

Summary §j

Previously Merleau-Ponty noted a few related concepts. We find ourselves being in a situation. We are actively interrelating with the world around us. This interaction is what gives shape to the way the world is given to us, and is thus phenomenal. It is also actively occurring in the dynamic present. And from this temporal perspective, we can have the past and future in mind not as actively happening but as having happened and will be happening. If we were aware of moments of our experience in the past and future as them being actively happening now, then we would not be aware of them as past or future but rather as present. This is not so; we in fact are aware of them in their temporal absence, despite being given now in the form of retentions and protensions. So thus “consciousness takes root in being and time by taking up a situation.” (1945: 487bc / 1958: 493bc) Merleau-Ponty now asks, having taken all this into account, how do we describe consciousness?

We first take into consideration three features of consciousness that will enter into our description. One is that it is a ‘comprehensive project’; our awareness over time is something whose parts are thoroughly interrelated and integrated with one another. Another consideration is that consciousness is something that appears to itself (‘be apparent to itself / s’apparaître’). We are not merely aware of things. We are aware that we are aware of things. Previously Merleau-Ponty described an incorrect way to conceive this. It cannot be that we have a series of successive moments of consciousness, with us now at the present one, and then an additional act of consciousness synthesizing them altogether into one continuous stream of one subject. This is a problem, because that additional act of conscious now itself stands beyond the other synthesized moments, and it requires yet an additional act of consciousness for the present conscious act to be included synthetically with the rest. Thus from this view, it would be impossible for an act of present consciousness to be aware of itself as being continuous with the stream. Simultaneous with acts of consciousness would need also be acts of self consciousness. The final thing we note is that right now we are explicitly aware of certain things, but we are implicitly aware of others. [Consider for example if when driving a car or riding a bus, and we hear a loud screeching of tires that rapidly gets louder. Our bodies might brace for a collision. We do not know what will happen, but the way we interact with and are conscious of the world right now involves implicit awareness of what we think might later enter our explicit awareness. Thus,] consciousness is also a process of continual modifications from implicit to explicit, and also from explicit to implicit (as when present phenomena become implicitly retended after they pass). Consciousness thus involves an internal multiplicity of states and contents. If consciousness did not have this internal variation, it would be aware of everything explicitly all at once, and of course it is not.


Consciousness on the one hand is unified. The present moment of awareness is continuous with all the other moments; they make up the stream of one person’s awareness. But on the other hand, consciousness is multiple. Each moment is phenomenally unique, in that when it happened, it had explicit contents that the others did not have when they were in action. Consciousness is both a) the indivisible power that synthesizes the moments, and b) inherent within each moment as well. These two things are not distinct entities. Our consciousness itself both flows from itself while never leaving itself, and this is temporalization. It is a self-anticipatory movement [because it knows in advance that it will encounter itself still again as something both continuous with itself yet temporally differential to itself. We are always awaiting ourselves. Who are we becoming? How will we be feeling next? What will enter our mind? We know that we will be slightly different. Our consciousness both has itself under its awareness, but also its transitional transformations as well, which are given in the present not as explicit phenomena but rather as implicit anticipations.]

We must avoid conceiving as real and distinct entities either the indivisible power, or its distinct manifestations; consciousness is neither, it is both; it is the very action of temporalization—of ‘flux’, as Husserl has it—a self-anticipatory movement, a flow which never leaves itself. (487c / 493c)
To more fully illustrate, Merleau-Ponty will examine a literary example. Let’s first consider the consciousness of any character in a novel. More complex characters might have phases in their development. Merleau-Ponty has us consider in Proust's Swann's Way the character, Swann, who falls in love with Odette. He experiences both love for her and also jealousy as well. At first perhaps Odette has love for Swann too. But she takes other lovers and eventually turns away from Swann, whose unrelenting love causes him to remain attached to her long after her passion for him dies away. Thus his love becomes jealousy.
Proust shows how Swann’s love for Odette causes the jealousy which, in turn, modifies his love, since Swann, always anxious to win her from any possible rival, has no time | really to look at Odette. (487d / 493-494)
We said there were two unified dimensions of consciousness’ temporalization: its unified continuous motion and the continuously conjoined variety of different contents under perpetual passage and alteration. This view that sees the love as causing the jealousy only takes into account temporal consciousness as a multiplicity of causally related moments. It does not however give us the synthesizing dynamic which is responsible for all moments to be interrelated so thoroughly that each moment indirectly implies the others. It is not so simple that we may say Swann is first in love and secondly jealous. His initial love was already a jealous love. That coming jealousy tinged his original love, it was on the horizon, implied from the beginning.
Proust tells us when speaking of another love: it is the feeling of being shut out of the life of the beloved, and of wanting to force one’s way in and take complete possession of it. Swann’s love does not cause him to feel jealousy. It is jealousy already, and has been from the start. Jealousy does not produce a change in the quality of love: Swann’s feeling of pleasure in looking at Odette bore its degeneration within itself, since it was the pleasure of being the only one to do so. (488a / 494b)
Swann’s jealous love is also a part of his behavior in general; in other words, even before he fell in love with Odette, his behavior, his manner of integrating with the world, already implied his tendency for this kind of love. It was always on the horizon. Thus any one part or moment of our consciousness gives us to ourselves as a ‘comprehensive project’. [Hence our consciousness is aware of itself always from a perspective within itself.] We cannot think that the self is somehow outside the flow of time while also being aware of itself as being in the flow of time. So we cannot regard the self like Kant’s transcendental ego. This is for two reasons. Doing so would mean there is a self-same self who is juxtaposed to a stream of self-varying selves given empirically to our senses. By making this division, we cannot say that the transcendental ego is both the unity of the self lying outside the stream while also always being immanently inside. As well, we cannot say that each empirical appearance of ourselves belongs to the others and that the self is immanently between each to glue them together. Thus the subject must be in the flow of time. So consider instead if we regard the self as the thrusting of time which makes one act of consciousness pass to another. Such a self would explain both the unity of the different acts, as being their glue, and also explain their continuous variation, as being the thrust away from itself.

Before we go on, let’s recall some essential concepts in Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology. To be consciously aware means to be integrated in a partialized way with the phenomenal world. By this we mean that not everything is phenomenally given explicitly all at once.
To see the lamp’s front side is also to implicitly be aware of how its backside must look from the perspective of the hearth behind it. Some implicit aspects for one reason or another will call upon us to investigate them, perhaps because something does not add up with what we see. For example, when happening upon the beached boat and mistaking its masts for trees at first, we might have 'subconsciously' noticed that the masts were not swaying in the wind like the trees were. So we were implicitly aware of the wood-objects being parts of the ship, but not explicitly aware. That ambiguity in our awareness motivated us to turn our awareness more closely to parts of the forest that before were in the margins of our consciousness. Because there is always something implicit within our explicit awareness, we are continually driven to alter our acts of consciousness. There is always a thrust away from our current act of awareness. The newer acts that we thrust-toward were previously anticipated acts that we were just protentionally aware of. Our act of awareness of seeing the masts as trees already had a pull toward the act seeing them as masts. The thrust of time is inherent to every act of consciousness, because all phenomenal awareness involves the integrations that fill our awareness with protendable implications. Consider when we try to hold only one thing in our awareness indefinitely. We eventually feel a tension, a pull away from the focalized act of consciousness toward an act awaiting us in the margins of our awareness.

This continuous thrusting is responsible both for the subjective unity of the stream of conscious acts but also for their self-differential variety. Each act already from its inception is striving away from itself. It is distancing itself, extending away from itself. These self-distantiations are responsible for the extending stream of successive various contents, each having a unique set of temporal relations to the rest, because none occurred simultaneously. So the thrust is responsible for the variation of time. Yet, because the thrust is continuous, being always there from the beginning of each conscious act, it is what is common to all and is immediate to their transitioning. If our past conscious acts were not transitionally continuous with our present one, we would not be able to identify them as belonging altogether and to our current self. The transitional thrust of time then is the unifying factor that makes all our conscious acts ours. It is our subjectivity in its active immediacy, because it is the glue of all our temporally distinguishable parts. This thrust, we noted, is a self-modification of acts of consciousness, and thus temporal subjectivity is a matter of self-affection.

We shall never manage to understand how a thinking or constituting subject is able to posit or become aware of itself in time. If the I is indeed the transcendental Ego of Kant, we shall never understand how it can in any instance merge with its wake in the inner sense, or how the empirical self still remains a self. If, however, the subject is identified with temporality, then self-positing ceases to be a contradiction, because it exactly expresses the essence of living time. Time is ‘the affecting of self by self ’; what exerts the effect is time as a thrust and a passing towards a future: what is affected is time as an unfolded series of presents: the affecting agent and affected recipient are one, because | the thrust of time is nothing but the transition from one present to another. This ek-stase, this projection of an indivisible power into an outcome which is already present to it, is subjectivity. (488c.d / 494-495)
How is it that the temporal subjective flow is self aware? In immediate presence, our act of consciousness has part in its explicit focus, and part in its implicit focus. When our consciousness moves away from one explicit phenomenon to explicate another that is implicit, it is becoming aware of something that was inherently a part of itself, although implicitly, in the prior act. So this transition is an act of self awareness. And it is the motion of time.

This thrust is our personal subjectivity
, because it is what makes all our other acts belong together and belong to our current act of immediate awareness.

The thrust is temporal
, because its movement displaces acts of awareness out of present consciousness into implicitly retended awareness, and it brings out from marginal awareness implicit acts that were protentionally anticipated.

The thrust is self-aware
, because it is the ongoing motion of one part of consciousness, the explicit part, bringing into its awareness another part of consciousness, the implicit part.

The thrust is immediately experiential
, because the implicit and explicit phenomena result from our given interrelation with the world at whatever given moment.
The primary flow, says Husserl, does not confine itself to being; it must necessarily provide itself with a ‘manifestation of itself’ (Selbsterscheinung), without our needing to place behind it a second flow which is conscious of it. It ‘constitutes itself as a phenomenon within itself ’. It is of the essence of time to be not only actual time, or time which flows, but also time which is aware of itself, for the explosion or dehiscence of the present towards a future is the archetype of the relationship of self to self, and it traces out an inferiority or ipseity. Here a light bursts forth, for here we are no longer concerned with a being which reposes within itself, but with a being the whole essence of which, like that of light, is to make visible. It is through temporality that there can be, without contradiction, ipseity, significance and reason. That is seen even in the commonly held notion of time. We mark out the phases or stages of our life: for example, we consider everything that bears a significant relationship to our concerns at the moment as part of our present, thus recognizing implicitly that time and significance are but one thing. (488-489 / 495a.b)
We might think of our subjectivity as being a matter of self-constant self-identity. But as a transitional-synthetic thrust, it is neither self-constant nor self-identical. It is a continuous opening up toward an otherness to its present self.

Merleau-Ponty notes one of Husserl's observations. When we reflect on something in our current awareness, it seems already to be something in the past. And yet, this reflection on the immediate passing of conscious acts is itself a passing conscious act. This means that our acts of consciousness are immediately given to themselves, and because they are responsible for the thrust away from themselves, they also self-affectively modify themselves.

The fact that even our purest reflection appears to us as retrospective in time, and that our reflection on the flux is actually inserted into the flux, shows that the most precise consciousness of which we are capable is always, as it were, affected by itself or | given to itself, and that the word consciousness has no meaning independently of this duality. (489d / 495-496)


Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phénoménologie de la perception. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1945.


Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Transl. Colin Smith. London/New York: Routledge, 1958.




Alfred Hitchcock, Entry Directory

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26 Sep 2011

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Feeling & Time. §i, Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, Prt.3, Ch.2


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Feeling & Time

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Phénoménologie de la perception
Phenomenology of Perception

Troisième Partie : L'être-pour-soi et l'être-au-monde
Part III. Being-for-Itself and Being-in-the-World


Ch. 2. La temporalité
Ch. 2. Temporality



What does the non-eternity of phenomenal time and your temporalized conscious being got to do with you?


There is you. Who is he or who is she? We are this self immediately immersed in the world. We have a past and a future that makes us who we are today. But that past and future really exist now in us only because they come alive in our present awareness. Within your consciousness now contains your entire life. But this does not necessarily mean your life is somehow eternalized. It all can be here now only because your finite durational self is present aware of it implicitly.



Brief Summary

The different moments of time throughout past present and future are all thoroughly intertwined phenomenally, and they obliquely imply one another. This is one reason to think phenomenal time stands outside the actual flow of consciousness and is thus eternal. Also, there is a continual thrust of time that transitions the moments between temporal statuses, and this thrust is ongoing. Because it is like a fixed nozzle for a water-fountain jet, we also might think phenomenal time stands outside the flow of changes and is thus in this way eternal as well. However, the relations between past present and future are possible only by means of the dynamic present awareness which is immediate to time and is finitely limited, thus the basis of phenomenal time is not eternal but durationally active in a lived presence. And it is not the stasis of the present that gives the flow of phenomenal contents its motion, but rather its dynamic action in the present moment. And thus again phenomenal time is not eternal.

For past and future to have being as past and future, they need to come into existence in the consciousness of a finite being who can be aware of the phenomenal contents of his past and his anticipated future. And our own being is our 'being-at,' our integrated phenomenal immersion in the world. So our consciousness and our being coincide in the present, because being present means being aware (being phenomenally integrated actively with the world).


Points relative to Deleuze

Our present is an explosion of difference. What we notice in the present is whatever stands out from its temporal context, what is discontinuous from its past and future. Perhaps we might be inclinded to say that in the present moment some thing stands out and not a differential relation. But that thing alone is not itself the temporal content of the moment. What gives the present its temporal character are those affective shocks it endows us, shocks from things not being like they just were. These shocks provide us with the phenomenon of presence, that aspect of immediate experience that impresses itself on us with an intensity that tells us it is 'now'. So it is not our immersion with the world which is presence, but our breaks from it. As well, the fount of time is our selfhood. And also as with Merleau-Ponty's theory, this Deleuzean self is there immediately to itself. Yet for Deleuze this self is immediate to itself because it is cracked from within. If we find ourselves doing something we do not identify with, like cruel behavior when under grave threats, we are there as ourselves but not identical to ourselves. In a way, we are continually different from ourselves, because we are always under modification. This means that at the basis of our experience of time's passage is our pre-given self-differentiation. First we are shocked by being different from ourselves, then secondly we synthesize time out of those differences. You might think that time is needed for us to change. Or is it not maybe that change is needed for there to be time? Might our phenomenal world be generated by a continual cracking? We lift a bottle of beer to our mouths. It phenomenally cracks from the table. We tip it and let the beer flow out. The beer cracks from the bottle and reaches our mouths. We created the phenomena of table and bottle by cracking the table apart. We obtained the phenomenon of beer by cracking the contents from the bottle. We had the phenomenon of beer in our mouth, by cracking within one instant the prior moment of emptiness in our mouth from the succeding moment of beer in it. We are not affected by time as a continuous motion, but rather as a series of breaks in continuity. Time lurks in the phenomenal cracks of our world and experience. It is concievable that there is a real time that is passing, but we do not feel it. This would be the case if we are not affected in a way so as to feel time. If we noticed no changes within us or in the world around us, we might not be aware of temporal differences like past and present. We need our world and ourself to crack for time to appear to our awareness.



The parts of time interrelate and imply one another. We at the phenomenal source of the flow of time, like the jet nozzle of a water fountain, have a limited finite position that gives the parts of time's temporal relations like past and future. These parts on the one hand are unified in the water's one continuous motion, but separated by their temporal positions relative to the moving present. Both the unity and the relational separations of the flow of phenomenal time are based on our finite subjective perspective. Subjectivity itself is fount of phenomenal time.


Summary §i

Our life has time. And there are moments of our life. But time for us is not so much these moments as much as it is the continual thrust of intertwined phases of our experience. They all interrelate so thoroughly that the future for example was already implicitly given phenomenally in the past. Back then, our antipations of the future affected the way we were aware of things. So when regarding phenomenal time as the continual thrust of interwoven moments, we might come to see it as timeless and eternal in a way, as if the jet nozzle of time stood outside the flow of phenomenal experiences shooting out from it.

Recall how we are retentionally aware of the past moments of our lives. One moment passes into the past. We remain aware of that past moment now. Then a new moment comes. We are no longer immediately aware retentionally of that first moment. But we are still aware of it, because we are aware of the awareness we just had of it. Each past moment of our awareness is nested in our current one. It has not gone away.
I belong to my past and, through the constant interlocking of retentions, I preserve my oldest experiences, which means not some duplicate or image of them, but the experiences themselves, exactly as they were. (485bc / 491ab)
Despite this unity of moments in our present awareness, this chain was built up not in simultaneity but rather in succession. Each retended moment happened actively only while the others were not happening. And consider if we do want to recall some event long ago in our past. When we bring it into our mind, it is not one solid image, but rather we must play it back out like a movie scene, keeping it in the dynamics of the "tempo" of its original changing; "to retain is to hold, but at a distance." (485 cd / 491c) Recall how Merleau-Ponty called the synthesis of time a 'transition synthesis'. [It is a synthesis not as identification, but as the continual thrust of transitions, Moment A happens, then B, then C. At C, we are not retentionally aware of B itself, because it has passed; but we are aware ofit not as present but as just having past, and following Husserl's diagram, we call it B'. We are not aware of first moment A. Instead, we are aware of the prior moments awareness of A, so we call it A''. The moment from A to A' to A'' is not passed on their all being identical, because they are parts of different moments of awareness, and are not the same. But we give them the same name, because they are a part of the same transition synthesis, the motion of A' becoming A'', B becoming B', all while B turns into C as C takes Bs place.] Thus although time is synthetically interwoven, it cannot be stripped of its dynamic temporal character.
Once again, time’s ‘synthesis’ is a transition-synthesis, the action of a life which unfolds, and there is no way of bringing it about other than by living that life, there is no seat of time; time bears itself on and launches itself afresh. Time as an indivisible thrust and transition can alone make possible time as successive multiplicity, and what we place at the origin of intratemporality is a constituting time. (485d / 491d)
Previously we noted how the future is a past as well, but it is a past to come. This made it seem as though phenomenal time is eternal. But we may say the future is past only because there is a continuous motion of time's thrust that makes the future pass to the present then to the past, and also on account of this motion, each moment gets thoroughly intertwined with the rest such that each moment implies indirectly and ambiguously all the others in our phenomenal awareness. So we were only able to portray time in a quasi-eternal manner by looking at the continuous motion of change in the actual and finite present moment.
What does not pass in time is the passing of time itself. Time restarts itself: the rhythmic cycle and constant form of yesterday, today and tomorrow may well create the illusion that we possess it immediately, in its entirety, as the fountain creates in us a feeling of eternity. (486a / 492a)The fountain retains its identity only because of the continuous pressure of water. (486a / 492a)
What we are calling eternity is really just the action of time in its fullest extent, and thus the phenomenon of time in its eternal expression is parasitic upon the phenomenon of time in its continuous thrust of transition synthesis. Thus we obtain the phenomenal illusion of temporal eternity only on the basis of our ongoing finitude, with its infinitely open temporal horizons on the past and future.
Of what nature, then, is that waking time in which eternity takes root? It is the field of presence in the wide sense, with its double horizon or primary past and future, and the infinite openness of those fields of presence that have slid by, or are still possible. Time exists for me only because I am situated in it, that is, because I become aware of myself as already committed to it, because the whole of being is not given to me incarnate, and finally because one sector of being is so close to me that it does not even make up a picture before me—I cannot see it, just as I cannot see my face. Time exists for me because I have a present. It is by coming into the present that a moment of time acquires that indestructible individuality, that ‘once and for all’ quality, which subsequently enables it to make its way through time and produce in us the illusion of eternity. (486b.c / 492b.c)
['To be' walking. It means we are presently in the status or action of walking. 'To be or not to be'; it is a choice of life or death, a question of our existence. We might think of our 'being' as our present status or activity of existing, of just being here, being alive, currently standing within and being in touch with the world we are immersed in.] When we recall a past event, the event itself is represented in our mind, however the act of that recollection and representation is absolutely immediate in the present. In order for past and future moments to come into being as past or future, they need our present consciousness. Thus the present in its horizonal openness is the field in which consciousness and being coincide, Merleau-Ponty writes. (486cd / 492d)

Our 'being' in this sense is our immediate immersion in the world, and because we are immersed by means of our phenomenal relation with the world - its appearing to us as we appear to it - consciousness is being in the sense of 'to be at' (être à). (487b / 492b)
It is by communicating with the world that we communicate beyond all doubt with ourselves. We hold time in its entirety, and we are present to ourselves because we are present to the world. (487b / 493bc)
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phénoménologie de la perception. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1945.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Transl. Colin Smith. London/New York: Routledge, 1958.