21 Feb 2012

Profit Off its Hinge: Aberrant Monied Time in Alliez' Capital Times

summary by Corry Shores

[I thank Clifford Duffy for introducing me to Alliez' incredible text.]

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Profit Off its Hinge
Aberrant Monied Time in Alliez'
Capital Times

What does Alliez' temporalization of money got to do with you?

We place our money in banks to gain interest. The bank does not pay us back in groceries. They give us money so we can shop at the supermarket. They give us back a number, which represents a certain amount of time that we do not have to worry about having enough money for food. Money in a way is time, not just because it takes time to make money, but also because the money we make creates the period of duration that we can satisfy our needs. Without a store of money, we would have to fight day-by-day for our food. Once we know this time-buying power of money, we might want money just for its own sake, which is why we invest it to make interest. But what then is our attitude toward time when we do this? We might be implicitly thinking that if we sacrifice one month's of satisfaction-time now, then next month we will have one month's satisfaction-time plus an extra percent. Then if we reinvest again even at the same percent, we will later earn an even greater duration of satisfaction-time (a larger amount of money), because we begin with a greater initial investment after having received our first gains in interest. So our continual investing is like seeing time as something infinitely expandable. We don't anticipate that next month we will acquire the same period of assured satisfaction-time (to have the same amount of money in the bank), because we expect interest to keep increasing our savings. So we don't think that time is a cycle where values remain the same. Rather, we feel as though time can be freed of cycles of redundancy and can shoot off in its own directions of expansion.

Brief Summary

Deleuze cites Alliez as showing an aberrant time freed from its hinges. Alliez draws from Aristotle and Marx when explaining this. Aristotle's chrematistics is a sort of pursuit of wealth rather than merely seeking the use-values of goods. In mere bartering, we exchange one commodity for another [perhaps we might symbolize this as C-C], and normally the use-value of both exchanged goods is relatively the same. Yet currency allows goods to be exchanged in more complex and sophisticated ways. For Marx, Commodity-Money-Commodity exchanges (C-M-C) are based on exchanging one good for another one with relatively the same value, by means of currency that mediates those values symbolically. But merchants who buy goods not for use-value but for resale-value -- aiming to earn a profit in that resale -- are making Money-Commodity-Money exchanges (M-C-M'), which is like Aristotle's chrematistics. The extra prime symbol in M' indicates the original monetary value plus the increase (or decrease) made in profit (or loss) through the exchange.

In bartering, the use-value of the obtained good is attained immediately. But C-M-C is really more like C-M/M-C, because there are two mediating steps: 1) the commodity-owner sells her labor/goods for money, and then 2) she uses that money to buy some other commodity or service. [Likewise we might make this distinction for merchants who treat their merchandise as having monetary value. They do not use the commodity, but rather it represents potential resale profit from a forthcoming sale. This we might represent as M-C/C-M': 1) a merchant buys the resellable commodity at one monetary value, and 2) the merchant resells that commodity to someone else at a profit.] So there is a succession implied in the temporally mediating power of money in C-M-C [and in the mediation of monetary resell value in M-C-M']; money is time in the sense that it creates an advantageous delay between transactions. And we can hold onto money knowing that it will satisfy our needs for some period of time. Thus money in this way mediates a certain sort of temporality. Note also how in [C-C] bartering and also in C-M-C exchanges, the use-value of the goods given will probably for the most part equal those of goods received. This is like a circular time where values and wealth always return rather than skyrocket. But in M-C-M', or better in just pure interest investment M-M', values do shoot-off exponentially. Interest investments create a monied time that is not circular in its movement but rather more like an exponential curve. Hence the investment made now is like the tangent to that curve; it is the intended rate of increase, and it is a straight line rather than a circular return to an original value. This current investment drains the present of its money (and thus of the temporal value of that money), while introducing into the present the anticipated but undetermined forthcoming return that implies a greater temporal value. So chrematistics in a way creates an empty form of time, where there is no actual (temporal) value present now, but instead there is the coincidence of a pure and empty 'before' and 'after'. Also, the rate of increase will be different after gaining returns, so the speeds of increase do not match before and after the investment. They do not 'rhyme' in a sense.
In the present moment of investment, with its tangential shooting-off course, there is thus also a rupture, break, or caesura in the curve of value-increase.

Points relative to Deleuze:

Deleuze needs elaborations of his articulation that "time is out of joint" in his 'third synthesis of time.' This third synthesis combines the following concepts: a pure and empty time, a time come loose from a circularizing hinge and instead flying straight off, and time that is a cut or caesura. Alliez' explanation of the implied temporality in Aristotle's chrematistics combines these temporal properties.

Deleuze refers to Alliez' Capital Times: Tales from the Conquest of Time (Les Temps Capitaux: Récits de la conquête du temps) at the beginning of his essay "On Four Poetic Formulas That Might Summarize the Kantian Philosophy" ("Sur quatre formules poétiques qui pourraient résumer la philosophie kantienne"). We quote Deleuze and give the footnote about Alliez:
As long as time remains on its hinges, it is subordinated to extensive movement [....] This characteristic of ancient philosophy has often been emphasized: the subordination of time to the circular movement of the world as the turning Door [....] [...] Time no doubt tends to free itself when the movement it measures itself becomes increasingly aberrant or derived [dérivé], marked by material, meteorological, and terrestrial contingencies; but this is a downward tendency that still depends on the adventures of movement. [Footnote 3: "Eric Alliez, in Capital Times: Tales from the Conquest of Time, trans. George van den Abbeele (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), has analyzed, in ancient thought, this tendency toward the emancipation of time when movement ceases to be circular: for instance, in the "chrematism" and time as a monetary movement in Aristotle."] (Deleuze 1997: 27bc; c.d; 187bc)

Tant que le temps reste dans ses gonds, il est subordonné au mouvement extensif [….] On a souvent souligné ce caractère de la philosophie antique : la subordination du temps au mouvement circulaire du monde comme Porte tournante. […] Sans doute y a-t-il une tendance du temps à s’émanciper, quand le mouvement qu’il mesure est lui-même de plus en plus aberrant, dérivé, marqué de contingences matérielles météorologiques et terrestres ; mais c’est une tendance vers le bas, qui dépend encore des aventures du mouvement. [Note 2. Eric Alliez a analysé, dans la pensée antique, cette tendance à l’émancipation du temps quand le mouvement cesse d’être circulaire : par exemple la « chrématistique » et le temps du mouvement monétaire chez Aristote (Les temps capitaux, Cerf).] (Deleuze 1993: 40bc; c.d)
Deleuze in fact wrote the forward to this book, and we quote from two different translations.
One might say that thought can only grasp time through several speeds [....] (Deleuze 2006: 372a)
It might be said that thought can grasp time only through a number of strides [....] (Deleuze 1996: xi/bc)
[...] on dirait que la pensée ne peut saisir le temps qu’à travers plusieurs allures (Deleuze 1991: 7b)

An aberrant time may be undone to become more rectilinear, independent, abstracted from other speeds, and sometimes it may trip or fall. (2006: 373a)
At the limit, an aberrant time undoes itself, becoming more and more linear, autonomous, abstracted from other strides, and sometimes falling and tripping. (1996: xii/a)
A la limite, un temps aberrant se défera pour devenir de plus en plus rectiligne, autonome, abstrait des autres allures et parfois chutant et trébuchant. (1991: 7d)
One would say that time falls ideally, like light in a way (intensive quantity or zero distance from the moment) [....] (2006: 373bc)
It could be said that time falls, a little the way light does, with an idealized fall (the intensive quantity or distance from the moment zero) [....] (1996: xii/b)
On dira du temps qu’il tombe, un peu comme la lumière, d’une chute idéelle (quantité intensive ou distance de l’instant à zéro) [….] (1991: 8ab)
Kantian time as [...] like a line that one can only see at first in fleeting bits and pieces revealing itself at the end. The pure line of time becomes independent.... Time shrugged off its dependency on any extensive movements [....] (2006: 374a)
Kantian time [...] as a line discovered at the end and of which a furtive segment here and there is at first only glimpsed. The pure line of time has become autonomous... Time has shaken off its dependency on all extensive movement [....] (1996: xiii/d)
[...] le temps kantien [...] comme une ligne qui se découvre à la fin et dont on n'avait d'abord aperçu que tel ou tel segment furtif. La pure ligne du temps devenu autonome... Le temps a secoué sa dépendance à l'égard de tout mouvement extensif [....] (1991: 8d)
We will look more closely at how Alliez' explanation of Aristotle's chrematism portrays a sort of unhinged, intensive, straightened time.

Eric Alliez
Capital Times: Tales from the Conquest of Time
Les Temps Capitaux: Récits de la conquête du temps

In the first chapter of his Capital Times, Alliez discusses an aberration in economic circulation.

Let’s first review what we discussed from Aristotle’s Politics.

Wealth is involved both in the art of household management (oikonomia) and in the art of money-making (chrematistics). But in chrematistics, we might treat money and exchange in a perverted way. For example, we might treat a shoe not as protection for our feet, but rather as a sellable item that can be exchanged for currency. Also, our natural inclination to acquire goods to sustain our family can instead become a drive to acquire money for its own sake. The worst sort of money-making is loaning on interest, because money is intended for exchange but is here used just for making money.

This corresponds to what we discussed in Marx's Das Kapital.

There are two types of money circuits: C-M-C (commodity-money-commodity) and M-C-M (money-commodity-money). In C-M-C, we are interested in the use-values of the commodities, because we exchange one thing we have (peasant sells corn) for money, which is then used to obtain another commodity that we need (peasant buys clothes). Like with Aristotle's example of the shoe, we here are treating the final commodity not as a means to make more money, but rather as an object with a use value. However, we could instead be interested solely in acquiring wealth for its own sake. To do this, we would enter into the M-C-M circuits. Here, we begin with money, and hopefully end up with more money (M-C-M'). [Marx writes: "where M' = M + ΔM = the original sum advanced, plus an increment. (Marx 1906: 168 / 1867: 112)] We use our money to buy some commodity, not for its use value, but for its exchange value, because we try then to sell it at a profit. Here capital begets capital. A shorted circuit of M-C-M is loaning money at interest. Here the middle stage of buying commodities is excluded, and so it is more like M-M'.

So perverted chrematistics is like M-C-M' and M-M', because it disregards the use-value of the commodity, and because it has the unending increase in exchange-value (continual monetary accumulation) as its driving purpose.

Alliez writes:
What about the system of this practice for the Aristotle of the Politics, for the Philosopher grappling with the "chrematistic" subversion of a mercantile economy that detaches wealth from property, wrenches money from its mediating condition, withdraws exchange from the law of equivalence to derive a profit from it - that substitutes interest for the social unit of need, the natural referent of the monetary sign? (Alliez 1996: 3cd)
Qu’en est-il du système de cette pratique pour l’Aristote de la Politique, pour le Philosophe aux prises avec la subversion « chrématistique » d’une économie mercantile qui détache la richesse de la propriété, arrache la monnaie de sa condition de médiation, soustrait l’échange à la loi de l’équivalence pour en tirer profit – qui substitue l’intérêt à l’unité sociale du besoin, référent naturel du signe monétaire ? (Alliez 1991: 31bc)
Alliez notes how for Aristotle, there is something unnatural about wealth-acquisition. Normal acquisition for our needs in household management is something that comes naturally [just like how a bird brings worms home to nesting young]. But endlessly acquiring surplus wealth for its own sake is not something that comes naturally but rather involves some learned and perfected craft (techne). (1996: 4a / 1991: 32b)

Alliez will introduce the dimension of time into these economic principles. Let's first recall what we learned from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Book 5. Here we noted how money is a way for disproportional goods to be exchanged, like when a builder of houses wants to exchange his own work, a built house, for something he needs, like the shoe that a shoemaker crafts. Money is a means to set proportional values so that the shoe can be considered to be 1/10000 the value of the house, for example. Now consider when a simple barter is made; let's say a peasant exchanges corn for clothes. Here, the sale and purchase (the giving of corn and taking of clothes, for the peasant, and the taking of corn and the giving of clothes, from the tailor) happen both in the same action, simultaneously. But if the peasant sells the corn to one person for cash, then takes that cash to the tailor the next day to buy the clothes, then the sale and purchase are successive rather than simultaneous. So money introduces successivity into economic transactions, or in other words, money is also a temporal medium in the cycles of exchange. As Alliez puts it,
As opposed to barter, monetary circulation splits the immediate identity of these two acts by introducing the antithesis of selling and buying, which appear as mutually indifferent, separate in space and time. The linkage C-M-C should really be written C-M/M-C. "And for future exchange [huper de tes mellouses allages]," writes Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics, "if we do not need a thing now [ei nun meden deitai], we shall have it if ever we do need it [ean deethei] - money is as it were our surety [egguetes]." (1996: 6d)
A la différence du troc, la circulation monétaire scinde l'identité immédiate de ces deux actes en y introduisant l'antithèse de la vente et de l'achat, qui se présentent comme réciproquement indifférents, séparés dans l'espace et le temps. L'enchaînement M-A-M doit en réalité être écrit M-A/A-M. « Pour les échanges à venir (huper de tes mellouses allages), écrit Aristote dans l'Éthique à Nicomaque, la monnaie nous sert en quelque sorte de garant (egguetes), et, si aucun besoin ne se fait sentir maintenant (ei nun meden deitai), nous l'aurons à notre disposition en cas de besoin (ean deethei). » (1991: 35c)
As we learned, the basis of M-C-M exchanges was that the intention of the process is to make profit, that is, for the second M to be of a greater quantity of monetary value than the initially invested first M, which was signified as M-C-M'. We also learned in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics that money is a unitary measure of need or demand. A greater need or demand for a commodity is a factor that can increase its monetary worth. Consider two pairs of shoes, each requiring the same value of materials and labor to produce. If one has practical or stylistic features that are greater in demand (and if the supply is equal), the more desired or needed shoes will have a greater monetary value.

So chrematistics is in part based on monetizing need. Yet, Alliez notes from the Politics how Aristotle can be read as saying that a city should pursue its own gain rather than be concerned about the needs of other cities ("For a city ought to be a market, not indeed for others, but for herself" Politics 1327 a27-28)
It is as if money had never been a mere means of exchange, as if its function as "common measure" was legitimating in advance, behind the formal equality of the terms made commensurable, the inscription of an infinite debt turning virtually every exchange into a means of monetary production and appropriation and all money into money "with interest," into time-money, and turning all wealth that escapes its natural place, the oikos, into "progressive value, money that is forever burgeoning and growing, and, as such, capital." From there, every "economic exchange is turned into a "chrematistic" exchange. (1996: 8a.b)
Comme si, donc, l'argent n'avait jamais été un simple moyen d'échange, comme si sa fonction de « commune mesure » légitimait par avance, derrière l'égalité formelle des termes rendus commensurables, l'inscription | d'une dette infinie faisant virtuellement de tout échange un moyen de production et d'appropriation monétaires, de toute monnaie une monnaie « à intérêt », une monnaie-temps, de toute richesse échappant à son lieu naturel, l'oikos, une « valeur progressive, argent toujours bourgeonnant, poussant et comme tel capital »... De là à faire de tout échange « économique » un échange « chrématistique »... (1991: 37-38)
Now let's recall Hölderlin's concept of caesura from his analysis of the Sophocles' tragedies, which he says have something like a variation in their pace. There will be a transition point where the rhythm alters. This functions as a “counter-rhythmic rupture” (gegenrhythmische Unterbrechung), which he calls the caesura (Cäsur). (Hölderlin, 102a; V,196). Consider Oedipus Rex. Do you remember how it feels, as far as its pacing is concerned? Do you not recall a gradual building up, and then at the end, things falling apart rapidly? Gradually we learn about the curse, and slowly it becomes less and less deniable that Oedipus is the cause. When Oedipus comes to terms with this fact, he blinds himself and is exiled from Thebes, while Jocasta, his wife and mother, hangs herself. So there is a rush at the end. His moment of realization is the caesura, the counter-rhythmic rupture in the speeds of dramatic development. On the one hand, we might say that the beginning and the end do not 'rhyme', because the speeds are different. But they do not rhyme for another reason too. Normally in Greek tragedies we would expect the tragic character to die at the end, as a sort of justice. Consider first Aeschylus' Agamemnon. For the structure, we imagine the movement of a planet in the heavens. All the other stars make perfect circles, returning to where they were a year prior. The planets in a way veer off from these circular patterns and they make their own path through the sky. However, they eventually return to where they once were. This regularity and constancy is like the limitations the gods place on mortals. Agamemnon is the king, and to kill him is a moral and legal transgression. His wife Clytemnestra commits this transgression by murdering her husband to avenge him for having killing their daughter. It is not until after a long delay that their son Orestes returns to take vengeance on the death of his father by killing his mother. So like the planet that is continuously broken out of the circular paths of the stars, but nonetheless eventually returns to where it once was, the development of Greek tragedies normally involves a transgression that after a delay finds resolution, even though that resolving action will itself be an act of transgression (a murder), keeping the deviant cycles in motion. However, in the Oedipus tale, the tragic character does not die. So his story does not develop like how a planet returns to where it once was. He is rather more like a planet let loose from its orbit, left wandering, as Oedipus does in Oedipus at Colonus. So in this sense the end does not rhyme with the beginning, because the vengeance cycle is broken, and the story does not begin and end with a crime of some sort.

Now consider briefly the cycle of C-M-C. Here we have a beginning and end that rhymes, because the final C is supposed to have the same value as the first commodity. But M-C-M is really M-C-M', we noted, because the profit M' is meant to be larger than the initial investment M. And the M-M' profiting from interest is even less of a cycle; we might even say it is just a continuous deviation from the original values rather than a process of return, because it is just a matter of continual increase of money, which has been broken off from those cycles where the repeated purchase and sale of commodities was needed to increase profit. So M-M' breaks the cycle of return to original value.

It is also a break in the speed of increase. Consider how invested money that accumulates interest keeps reinvesting all of itself, and rises exponentially; for, the greater the investment, the more potential for return, with that greater return being reinvested for yet an even greater potential for return, and so on, like an upward curve whose rate if rising increases as it moves forward. The investment is made now, so the current surplus is emptied in the present, and it is done on account of anticipating a future gain. This gives us the future in the present, but not as the actual profits to come as given now; no in fact, the money has evacuated the present. Instead, it gives us an undetermined future in an empty present. It gives us all in immediacy 'before' with its 'after' in their pure and empty forms. This is the pure and empty form of time, the bare relation of before and after, given as an intention in the immediate present.
Interest is the effect of a disproportion establishing inequality in terms of a caesura by which the permanence of money no longer coincides with the social presence of need, or with the immanence of an end with each act of exchange, but with the différance of a power (and not of a consuming) obliged to ignore the "concrete time" of presence in order to drain the surplus formed by each sequence of chrematistic exchange. (1996: 10b)
Effet d'une démesure qui établit l'inégalité en fonction d'une césure d'après laquelle a permanence de la monnaie ne coïncide plus avec la présence sociale du besoin, avec l'immanence de la fin à chaque acte d'échange, mais avec la différance d'un pouvoir (et on d'une consommation) qui se doit d'ignorer le « temps concret » de la présence pour drainer le surplus formé en chaque séquence de l'échange chrématistique. (1991: 40c)
So in a way, there is a break in the current flow that in the same stroke places the future into the present, "a future that is banking on the current value / un futur s'escomptant en valeur actuelle". (1996: 12bc / 1991: 43bc)

We now tie together two of Alliez' ideas. The first is that the current investment in M-M' intends an increasing gain. The other idea is that money is temporalized in the sense that it allows us to be assured that for some amount of time in the future our wants, needs, and desires can be satisfied. If we have enough money to buy this month's groceries, we in a way have bought a month of satisfied need. If instead we have no money, we must face that need now or first thing tomorrow. So money in a way creates or 'buys' the time sitting ahead of us where our desires will be satisfied. If we hold this money now, then this extending future of satisfaction is implied in the current value, so the future here is virtually or implicitly given in the present. Investing the value is our intending a certain increase in this virtual future time. Consider how calculus can find the tangent to a curve with an increasing slope.

[Image credit sought. email me if known]

In physics this can represent instantaneous velocity. So it indicates how much the speed wants to change at that moment. Before it is slower, after it is faster, but in an exponential progress. As we see, the curve is not circular; it does not intend to return to where it started. In intends instead to continue increasing. So our current investment is something like this tangent. It is a break not only in the sense of being M-M' rather than C-M-C, but also in the sense that the before and after do not rhyme: the rise from before to after becomes sharper. But it is a straight line in the sense of a pure intensive quantity. No time has passed. The implied temporality is given immediately as a degree of intended and intensive variation- intended because the investor intends a certain increase, and intensive in the calculus sense of a degree or gradus of variation that is not an extensive magnitude. [for this calculus sort of intensive magnitude in instantaneous variation see Deleuze Cours 20/01/1981 ; 10/03/1981 ; and Spinoza et le problème de l'expression, Ch.12] Chrematistics, Alliez writes,
designates finally that depoliticizing (de-realizing) anticipation that can derive profit from exchange because it is inscribed above and before the monetary equivalence it develops, on the tangent of the space of comparison and on the curve of appropriation that it keeps inextricably enveloped. (1996: 13bc, emphasis mine)
Money is [....] Nothing but the all-powerfulness of exponentiality. (1996: 13d, emphasis mine)
désigne au final cette anticipation dépolitisante (dé-réalisante) qui peut tirer profit de l'échange parce qu'elle s'inscrit en amont de l'équivalence monétaire qu'elle développe, à la tangente de l'espace de comparaison et de la courbe d'appropriation qu'elle tient inextricablement enveloppés. (1991: 44cd, emphasis mine)
La monnaie n'est [....] Rien que la toute-puissance de l'exponentiation. (1991: 45b, emphasis mine)
Chrematistics is an aberration of the cyclical return of commodity value. It produces time not only as an empty form, as the form of an undetermined future given in a hollowed-out present, but it also produces time as a straight line, as the line of intention or intensity for that bought-temporality to try to extend further (to have a longer period of ensured sustained satisfaction). Time, then, comes out of its circular joint and becomes linear, by means of an empty form of time that is as well a cut in time.


Alliez, Eric. Gilles Deleuze (Foreward). Capital Times: Tales from the Conquest of Time. Transl. Georges Van Den Abbeele. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Alliez, Eric. Gilles Deleuze (Préface). Les Temps Capitaux: Récits de la conquête du temps. Paris: Les éditions du cerf, 1991.

Deleuze, Gilles. "Preface: The Speeds of Time." In Two Regimes of Madness. Ed. David Lapoujade. Transl. Ames Hodges and Mike Taormina. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006.

Deleuze, Gilles. "On Four Poetic Formulas That Might Summarize the Kantian Philosophy." In Essays Critical and Clinical. Transl. Daniel W. Smith & Michael A. Greco. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.

Deleuze, Gilles. "Sur quatre formules poétiques qui pourraient résumer la philosophie kantienne." In Critique et Clinique. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1993.

Hölderlin, Friedrich. Sämtliche Werke. Fünfter Band. Stuttgart: Verlag W. Kohlhammer, 1952.

Hölderlin, Friedrich. Remarques sur Oedipe. Remarques sur Antigone. François Fédier, transl. Paris: Union générale is’éditions, 1965.

Hölderlin, Friedrich. Essays and Letters on Theory. Thomas Pfau, trans & ed. Albany NY: SUNY Press, 1988.

Marx, Karl. Das Kapital: Kritik der politischen Oekonomie. Erster Band. Buch 1: Der Produktionsprocess des Kapitals. Hamburg: Verlag von Otto Meissner, 1867.
PDF available online at:

Marx, Karl.
Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Ed. Frederick Engels. Transl. Samuel Moore & Edward Aveling. New York: The Modern Library, 1906.
PDF available online at:

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