The Disappearance of Time and Temporality in Bergson and Deleuze
The French philosopher, Henri Bergson, is famous for statements like, ‘no negatives, only positives’, and no ‘deterioriations’ only changes (cf. morality, and art periods). He also originated a theory of time appropriated by Gilles Deleuze (most notably in his book on Bergson and on his work on Cinema). This theory and its elisions provide the excuse for a continued examination of ‘everyday time’ and philosophy begun in the article on Heidegger om ‘boredom’.
But first a note on terminology and translation. ‘Contracted’ or ‘contraction’ and ‘relaxed’ or ‘relaxation’ (détente) are better translated as: for the former, ‘concentrated’, as if seen from a distance, or a kind of summary: and ‘relaxed’ (détente) as laid out, or opened out, as seen from, or examined from up close… distant versus detailed recall (modes of the past in the present, or of the past becoming ‘the past in the present’ in the present).
This essay is a continuation of a broader theme which we might gloss as: Philosophers and the elision of ‘everyday time’, or the disappearance of human temporality from considerations on ‘Time’. Much has been written to fill the gap left by the shunting aside of human experience. Occam’s razor (as in the case of Heidegger and ‘boredom’) opens the way to a much better explanation…
Lived time or human temporality is what we directly experience (if you like, ‘subjective time’, made up of the ‘eternal present’ (I am with Kierkegaard on this) with regular excursions into past and future and augmented with dream and reverie). Within this (as a subset) lies our indirect experience of time; at the furthest extreme, the scientific, empirical, quantitative model of time as a part of space (what we would normally call ‘objective time’). At the intimate end, our experience of clock time (which, as proof of its qualitative difference, may clash with our experience of the passing of time…). Temporality includes ‘time;’ as a third person image, or ‘thought experiment’ or measure: time includes temporality as our actual experience of time. Those who attempt go between time and temporality (between measure and quality of experience, between objective and subjective, and empirical and personal experience), do so with reason alone; theirs is a metaphysical move, going beyond experience, both personal (temporality) and collective, scientific or historical (time).
Such is the space (time) occupied by Bergson on time, as largely followed by Deleuze (esp. in Cinema I and II) and as also found in other purely philosophical attempts to deal with time: in the (Kantian) collective unconscious of Structuralism; in the personal unconscious posited by Freud and his followers; in Heidegger’s misappropriation of ‘boredom’ for grandiose metaphysical ends; and even in Phenomenology, in Husserl’s attempts to unite, so ‘bridge’, subject and object. The elision of ‘everyday time’ (imagined as if spoken in a disdainful tone…) and so of the real human experience of time, our lived temporality, is the unavoidable result; with the further result that our experience of time is now deemed insufficient to be the foundation, and so explanation of, much human culture (reason alone being preferred…). The compliment of temporality should be ‘Time’, as examined by the sciences (and so an example of quantitative and empirical data -augmented, to be sure, by a an ‘external’ point of view- feeding into personal experience), and not the wilder fantasies unleashed by the autistic operations of ‘reason alone’.
If Heidegger loses actual temporality, ‘actually-experienced’, ‘everyday time’ to metaphysics, and not just to speculative thought which would then look for its empirical, corresponding structures, but to an tendentious, irrational, empty, exterior, type of model (a ‘transcendental’, or ‘deep-structural’, ‘essence’… bolstered by etymology); then Deleuze in using Bergson also puts aside the everyday experience of time in favour of the ‘virtual’ as a kind of ‘higher reality’ - or the ‘virtual’ as both non-subjective and non-objective time, as …rational time (similar to Structuralism’s ‘virtual’ unconscious… or ‘deep structure’, the traces of Kantian ‘transcendentals’). And so also loses the ‘still’, the manifestation of ‘duration’ (also ‘pure’) as a kind of tremulous ecstasy (the ‘pleasure of the text’, of the signifier, as of symbolic, and of plural or polysemic signifieds), to a rationalist exterior model – which, it is important to note, is not a science-based model. This exterior model, when not tied to empirical or recorded material can only be described as metaphysical; Logos as God’s point of view - whatever its source. Happening nowhere (we accept this as a projection of self, or a vision of self as others see us, type of ‘thought experiment’, as also of the visualisation of the arrow of time, as if ‘outside’, because useful – but whilst being aware of their limitations - no actual God’s eye view in reality). Both philosophical moves occur at a cost to actually experienced time (phenomenology does this too when it tries to move beyond subject and object, inside and outside, the undecidables and pluralism of relativism, in Husserl). Including dream and reverie… also a key mode of the human experience of time (temporality). Dream is the basis for Surrealism and all visions, all visionary type art; and also feeds into the avant-garde and Modernism. Dream time is definable as both in and out of time in the experiential definition (‘the ‘outside’ proper would be ‘eternity’, ahistorical, radically ‘outside’ -an ‘absolute other’ in the Kantian sense- and so home to a plurality of heavens and putative universals alike).
Duration is opposed to interval (temporality versus time, subjective versus objective time): but duration is a part of the frame of unified perception (if not the felt frame itself, the sense of it always being ‘now’) and content, what fills the duration, perception or memory, or projection) and can be measured by a clock… (‘you were lost in your dreams for exactly one minute, fifteen seconds…’, ‘it happened about a minute ago’). For the tension of clock or measured time and desire see my analysis on Heidegger and boredom… when the future ‘window’ is open and a clock records present time in the Eternal Present… the torsion of the two results in the slowing of time’s felt flow… So the simple opposition of qualitative and quantitative elements in duration, in lived consciousness is not enough… Analysis must use types of temporality and (here) desire too, to explain effects… So even if the clock seems to slow (subjective temporality)… the time measured (objective time), the time ‘passed’ is …as measured - still x minutes and y seconds… The ‘speed’ at which pleasure passes is the opposite pole of temporal ‘stretching’ and offers the sense of ‘contracting’ time (time disappearing – along with the self) in passages of total involvement or great pleasure. Consciousness of time as unwanted slows time (if we were lost in the future, imagining our meal or other desired activity, then time too would pass quickly). It is the consciousness of the present (the context of the Eternal Present) in relation to the desired future (a desired state or event), the contrast, or conflict, which produces boredom (how to fill the gap), or worse impatience (annoyance at length of gap)… that causes the apparent slowing. This ‘gap’ also reminds us of the ‘reality’ of the past and future as ‘windows’, recall or projection, as they effect, together with desire (to go back, to go forwards), our sense of the present, our affect in the present. Not a contest of time and temporality, but a contradiction in temporality (as ‘measured’ by the presence of a clock, of ‘time’) as without a clock boredom and impatience also may occur… These temporal effects or affects (emotions) are the product of a tension between our temporal parts, within temporality, and not of time and temporality as such. A tension driven by desire.
Indeed, in the contrasting pole of the disappearance of time, and even of self, in ecstasy, we experience a union of temporality, or temporalities, such that it disappears (or they, their difference, disappears) – suggesting that the vestigial moments of ‘becoming past’ and ‘becoming future’ (as contrasted to passed past, recall, and projected future, images with no continuity or contiguity with the present, except desire to reference them, using, planning), that these operate at the ’edges‘ of our ‘present’ (EP), that they are ever there and so structural, part of the ‘frame’ (‘being’) in which the content (becoming’) occurs. The disappearance of self (as content) with time, also indicates the self as made in, or of time, suggesting temporality as one key to identity… Further, this disappearance of self -to self- is part of the ‘unity of feeling’ in ’peak experiences’, and is also found in participation in ritual practices (where eternity and identity – ‘eternity’ and the Eternal Present- are ‘re-unified’). We should also note the similar (but less intense) sense of time passing all too quickly, as we do what we like, but are aware that in the future lurks a less pleasant, or worse, a wholly unpleasant situation… So offering the sense of, ‘its all going too fast’, ‘is that the time already’, all of which are made out of the comparison of present and future or past (or all three), as combined with our preference, our desire….
Indeed, our desires, in combination with our experience of time, the temporal, perhaps together with the exchanges we continually make (the rituals of gift and recognition) constitute our identity. Even to power, or propel it, provide motivation… or motive force (as will be seen in the analysis of time and desire below). Desire in ritual, ‘recognition desire’, provides belonging, imaginary ‘unity’ (of self, and of self with others). As does, on a more earthly note, the crucial link of ritual and food! Repetition, celebration, cycles of life and memory, the role of food and drink (and of course the varieties of desiring fantasy, as of sexual experience itself) from the minor repetitions of the everyday to sublime experience… in art as in life… all reinforce identity (and also often provide a kind of ‘short circuit’).
II Temporality: the elision of everyday time.
Real, lived and ‘actually experienced time’, all are read as false; not suiting metaphysical (rationalist) concepts; simply read as the ‘illusion of the essence of Time’… (as Deleuze puts it in, ‘Bergsonism’, p. 61, preferring, with and after Bergson, an ‘analysed composite’). However, a rationally described -or theorized- mechanism is not experience, and does not invalidate experience. Indeed, explanations, other conceptual models, can be invalidated, or disproved… if testable, that is by experience... (the ‘empirical moment’ here, is our experience…). An ‘analysed composite’ is not actual experience, but a rational, metaphysical construction… or conceit.
Proust goes from detail to the past, Bergson the opposite…
Duration as present and ‘actual’. The lexical definition of the word ‘duration’ is actually concerned with quantitative length - ‘how long’. But is used here in its philosophical sense to describe temporal experience, and to indicate the quality of being in the middle of something, and not just any completable process, but of life, our life, whilst conscious. So again, we have the ‘contradiction’ of measure, of quantity, and, apparently, of ‘quality’. But let’s look again: the contradiction is as in the paradox in the ancient parable of the race of ‘Tortoise and Achilles’ (or the Hare), where subdivision of measure is contrasted to the completability of traversing a set distance, infinite subdivision of course does not negate the ability to finish a process - unless it’s the process of existence, ‘for us’ from ‘the inside’ (from the outside, it’s a variation on the ‘three-score years and ten’ story – if we are lucky). Our completion precisely coincides with our death. However the finishing of the course, and indeed of life, if and when done, is accomplished in time, in a set, measurable time, for quantity is the measure of time as of space (and not the capacity for infinite subdivision, which we turn to for fine-tuning - so a similar issue to that of real versus unreal numbers…). No: the contrast lies in this, the parts and indeed the whole may be measured… but the whole only exists from ‘without’, that is, after our death is witnessed and measured by another. The problem, interestingly, lies in the parts, which we may measure from within, that is measure or count; how long we take to do, to experience, something; we are both able to live in a continuous present… to be continuously present to ourselves, and to count, on a clock, or on our fingers, or even aloud, the passing of time in a quantitative manner. The relationship of present to presence, the latest point in the counting process is where we are (where we always are, even when we remember or think ahead) - dream or daydreaming may be the possible exceptions as we may be incapable of counting whilst in such a state. So the two ‘durations’, two types or definitions of ‘duration’, come together in the ‘now’ moment; no great contradiction here. However distortions occur as we approach the two extremes: of boredom or dislike of the present process (implicit is the desire for another state, similar to one we remember, as one desired in the future - which cannot come soon enough); and in the total submersion of the moment, ecstatic, pleasurable, when all sense of time, all awareness of time, disappears – we are too distracted to notice. The latter is simple enough; involvement, most especially in pleasurable activity, short-circuits our temporal sense or awareness of the passing of time. The former however, is fecund (as in the case of Heidegger’s mis-appropriation mentioned above). When we compare the present to past or future, or both (as in remembering a pleasanter time, and desiring its return) then clockwatching stretches felt time, our temporality, as the seconds seem to pass more slowly. Perversely, when awareness is based upon a desired escape from the present, then time is stretched; and even more perversely, with awareness that time is running out, that our time of pleasure is limited, or with the approach of something unwanted, then time appears to contract, to pass more quickly than it should (than we want). Again, we have the relation of counting, of clockwatching, in combination with our now moment and a desire that seems to interfere in the running of time (objectively nothing has changed) subjectively, temporally, time, felt time, runs faster or slower.
It seems a matter of what is in our minds as how subjective time is felt to pass, or is experienced (one conclusion might be that our temporality is made by us, part of the synthesis that makes up the self). Otherwise put, what is in our mind alters how we experience time; this is the difference of time and temporality, a difference usually read as of two different qualities… except that clock time is also with us, within us, and the proof is that it is (the experience of) this that is distorted by the combination of our desire and our attitude towards our present situation. It may be more useful if we might pose two strands or layers of time: one, the present together with the ‘others’ that appear within it, the past and future; and the other layer, a semi-objective sense of the passing of time (countable, objectified and quantifiable in clock time). This awareness of clock-time, counting clock-time in the present, is something applicable to the sense of being in the present, experienced as now usable, now not - as opposed to ourselves simply being within it, as with the sense of the present. This element of measure or counting is felt as something external (‘objective time’) which nevertheless can be ‘brought in’ to lie alongside and to measure, the passing of the arrow of time in everyday felt temporality (‘subjective time’, the interior movement of self that continues in the absence of any movement outside). This opposition, whilst usually glossed as ‘temporality’ and ‘time’, as becoming and being, quality and quantity, even mind and matter; might more precisely be described as the ‘now’ experience or ‘Eternal Present’ and a parallel sense, that of counting or measure, the ‘points’ of which pass as we count (a lesser and so malleable form, like the past or future in the present) and so also ‘semi-present’ or ‘optional’. This awareness brings with it a sense of counting, of rhythm, that appears in, or alongside, the present; ‘alongside’, because we can use it to calculate ‘how much’ time has passed as we experience it. However, this is a counting that is variable in its ‘felt’ speed, varying, as we have seen, according to desire (desire, of course, is completely temporal in its effects, future leaning, motivating, taking aim at things and actions... projecting past experiences, memories, into the future as desired ends). Our sense of the ‘now’ is altered by our desire, to be felt as passing too fast or too slowly; when a clock is referred too, it too appears as if passing too quickly or too slowly. Our sense of inexorability or of tardiness is transmitted to any means of measure it touches – to any clock that we happen to see.
Again, we have not needed any metaphysical extensions or proliferation of concepts, not even of unifying terms; the tension we describe is between parts, and it is these parts that produce the effects described. Everyday temporality, everyday temporal experience, is sufficient to deal with our experience of time and its effects (if insufficient we turn to psychology and physiology). The present with past and future together and with the force of desire is adequate to description (the addition of dream time -both in and out- and ‘eternity’ as a kind of parallel non-realm to the Eternal Present, fictional -or mental- home of gods, heavens, myths, universals, generalisations and axioms, answer to the two other aspects of our temporal parts, the later as a-temporality, illegal but indispensable, necessary yet fictional extrapolation of the Eternal Present to an a-historical, ‘all time’).
Time countable passes, and the ‘speed’, the rhythm, may vary, be felt to vary (the combination of counting and the present produces this) according to our desire; quantitative time is both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, but here the interior sense of clock time is distorted, by desire – as our awareness increases, so it lengthens (or contracts - or is this latter a case of any movement as too fast, a sense of inexorability?). Either way, this is not a case of imaging ourselves from the outside, the clock watching is part of our perception, part of our present, our preference for past or future distorts time - motivated by desire for another state. Or we wish not to have to leave -our present state- and so time flies when we are ignorant of it, but we register its passing as too fast when we clock watch, or countdown to an event we dread, or are not looking forwards to. The two kinds of distortion I suspect are different, two different combinations of desire and awareness leading to two effects or distortions, ‘lengthening’ and ‘shortening’; the lack of, or desire for, passing speed, responsible for the psychological effect that accompany these processes. ‘Lengthening’ involving full awareness of time up to a limit (the slowing is not infinite (unlike the sub-divisions of its measurement): ‘shortening’ as the awareness of the speed of passing as faster than desire would wish, the sense of ‘it’s already that time’ (up to full un-awareness of time and self… the sense of being unconscious of the passing of time - ‘where did that hour go?’). But note when we are urging it to slow, it speeds up: and when we are urging it to speed up it slows down. In each case it is the intervention of consciousness and desire that distorts time, a torsion between the present and clock time, where perhaps the former is linked to the later (but not as in simply counting, recording, noting or ‘telling time’) but as in desire as bridging the ’gap’ and producing the effects we have just described… Desire appears to fuse present temporality with clock time, the quality of passing (duration as ‘-ing’, ‘being as becoming’) with quantitative measure. Desire therefore is the last element needed. Our life force or one if its most powerful drivers, source of a future aimed at, or a past recalled, spur to comparison (with past or future), the desire to stay (in the present, ‘all joy seeks deepest eternity’) or go (remembering a better past time we choose to go to this, or something like it, as a future option, next ‘time’).
The sense of the present, where we are is standard, ‘foundational’, from the point of view of experience (from the point of view of science, or reason, it is, of course, secondary, the sense of ego as epiphenomena, the illusion of full presence) the other elements of temporality are variable; the presence of past or future, the awareness or not of the clock, and desire in its varying aims and intensities; but we are always ‘in’ the present… (whence, the ‘Eternal Present’ as a handy axiom for thinking human experience, where we always come back to, where we always are…).
Past and future both appear to have two forms (which we might gloss as ‘-ing’ form or ‘-ed’ form; becoming, or finished): the first sharing the ‘in process’ character of the present of which they are a part, are either ‘just happened’ or ‘about to happen’ (the ‘edges’ of the present as process, movement, the change of the content of the process of perception, within the ‘frame’ of the present). The second pair are recall and projection; the ‘semi-present’ past or future retrieved from the ‘virtual’, from memory. In this sense the future can only come from memory, from where it is then projected forwards. This is why Deleuze and Bergson operate with the binary past and present and its line up with all the other binaries that follow so easily (virtual/actual; memory/perception; being/becoming). Or even conceptualise temporality with the past alone; with presence, the ‘present’, as the ‘it just happened’, the Eternal Present as, in effect, a kind of recording, translation or synthesis (and so second – because always a split second behind the causative stimulus…). But this latter is an external description, a theory, rational, made entirely of concepts and logic (and scientifically accurate too): but not part of our internal experience. We can see from this that experience is malleable… if we focus on past or future (or an a model of how these work…) then the present (EP) feels different… And if we (in a recursive moment) then think of a model of ourselves, as variable, malleable… well, surprise, surprise… so we appear to ourselves! Even including the retrieval of the past as the retrieval of another self… or more, of selves, discreet and nameable, in cases of multiple personality disorder.
To take one, for Deleuze and Bergson, key, binary, the ‘actual and the ‘virtual’ and examine it from the point of view of our lived experience of time...
From virtual to actual, as a kind of ‘search’. From recollection (act of recall) to the perception of the past (making present or retrieval of the past image memory). Here we might also note that recognition of things (potentially anything and everything) is based on prior experience… our habitual or everyday use of memory, permanently refreshed in experience… in re-cognition… More distant recognition is slower as we have to think about it, searching… needs more recall, the finding process (here the virtual behaves as a trace (less than semi-present, an empty form… or place holder), or connection to the virtual, which when found gives recall, actual memory (semi-present in the present…) then, if remembered, actual-isation… actual-ly present - found!
When looking back, into the past, remembering, in Bergson is said to proceed from the general to the particular; from laid out (détente) to detail… And when found, the virtual then becomes actual (memory) or recall(ed) memory. Here ‘virtual’ effectively means the unconscious or better (as the Freudian notion of the unconscious involves an active barrier), preconscious (the ‘mind’ as ‘body’, neurology).
So the ‘unity of actual and virtual’, if it means anything at all, can only mean that a given memory is ‘actual’ in terms of its existence in the head (electrical, the neuron that is its materiality), and ‘virtual’ in terms of its existence as a (stored) copy or further; an incorrect, creative, copy (in relation to the original or real situation). Which is not saying much of use. Or that the memory is ‘actual’ as it shows what actually happened (in its relation to the past (its fidelity as a record) and ‘virtual’ as a copy, as a record of the past (no matter whether ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’; a matter of emphasis which is also of limited use). In neither case do we go further than the foregrounded recall of the past in the present and its accuracy or not. All doable within the terms used in the description of the experience of everyday human temporality - the past presented as semi-present in the present (for example….).
Rhythm as ‘another’ quantitative aspect that also involves counting, one which gives rhythm, that is peaks of presence, in repeated cycles… (cf. Husserl on music). Presence here is the sense of now, and the peak of the pulse is the co-existence of that pulse (its maximum presence) with the present, our present… We may picture it before and after, leading towards and leading away from, the present moment, as an ‘objective’ (but viewed from outside, so imaginary) picture - in our present, now (ourselves imagining ourselves in the context of the rhythm). Otherwise the sense of a before and coming, past and future pulse or peak, is the view from the present, looking backwards or forwards (either part of the ongoing present, if the rhythm is fast enough to be included in consciousness as now… ‘just happened’, or ‘just about to happen’). Or, as a last remembered peak and a forecast peak; as a present event, suggests recall, the retrieval from the memory of a past, or similar, past event, together with the forecast of its return in the future, as suggesting cycles of this event in an on-going rhythm...
Here again we can sense the relation of two differing qualities, one quantitative (repetitive, cycle, rhythm), the other, our sense of ongoing events (the unidirectional passage of time). But rather than separating and indeed, segregating these elements it would be better to think of their relation as a quantitative ‘ruler’ set next to the existence of the present as (we saw in the discussion of clock-time and desire above). The present however my here take the form of, either: an image seen, as if, from the outside; or contain the sense of a before and after as sensed from the inside (now). Two options - not axes (this would still be an ‘object’, the different aspects of the self seen as if other, a type of image-ining). However, technically, this is still a picture; so we should sense the picture before us in our imagination with this awareness as pictured within the Eternal Present… (object (self as object) within our subj-ectivity). We can perhaps dare to picture a synecdoche; the part (the image) in the whole (the ‘now-moment’, the Eternal Present) the one contained by the other (with the Eternal Present as final frame, axiomatic metaset).
That is, our experience should come first, then suggesting the projection of an image as contained within this. So we move from ‘now’ to image to ‘now’ Here again we may note the usefulness of the concept of the ‘Eternal Present’ as a ‘final’ metaset, or axiom, for all experience based matters: here whatever we are picturing, including ourselves as picturing ourselves, as part of some process (clock/object time), as part of the process (ad infinitum) and no matter how much recursion is involved, the basic place of the picturing, the where of the where, is where this is all happening, in the Eternal Present. So the Eternal Present is the ever present (ever-shifting ‘foundation’) with other ‘objective’ elements overlaid, or pictured within the ‘now’ moment of the Eternal Present (including this picturing, as a second order event… to, or in, the Eternal Present’s fundamental ‘frame’ – the content may be an objective picture, that of, imaging ourselves as other, from outside of ourselves, or recursive (imaging ourselves imagining ourselves imagining… etc.). But ‘the place’ is the same, our Eternal Present… (my ’Eternal Present’, to be precise – my ‘now’… or even more, precise, yours, now reading this…).
Note this theme appears in Derrida, as the experience of the self, (that can only be) re-experienced (pictured) as (an)other… the experience of self, re-experienced as other.
Bergson insists that the present is not, it (is) becoming, so leaving presence, is-ness, to the past. stored and ‘fixed’… Bergson’s axiom is that only the past or memory exists… whereas experience suggests that for us, only the present exists (is present): a monism of reason versus a monism of experience (in this case the former is actually scientific, objective, the latter is subjective, where we are… always). Two models, contenders, for the explanation, two aspects; complementary – so together a ‘general economy (a description that does function by exclusion, but by inclusion, either of excluded difficulties, axioms in logic and post-decimal point limitation in mathematics, nor of parallel explanations, relativity and quantum physics, together but not reducible to one ‘classical’ or ‘restricted’ -single centre- model, or again like rational or emotional explanations of ritual or identity, rational expenditure based on equivalence versus ‘irrational’ expenditure based on non-equivalence or ‘non-reserve’ – a ‘disjunctive reciprocity’…).
The experience of the present includes the process of fading, ‘fading out’ and ‘fading in’, of the past, of becoming past, and the future coming, of ‘just past’ and ‘about to happen’; these two are to be differentiated from the recall of memory (faded and gone, perhaps long gone, then retrieved), and the future as projection (of a past or present image as an imagined or desired event)… So we have two kinds of past and two kinds of future… The first kind as part of the present as process, part of the Eternal Present as ‘becoming’, and its others as ‘windows’ (into) the past and future… (‘other’, semi-present, beings)
So the past recollected is not quite the past as again present, as if happening again, in all its freshness, in all its full presence (as it once was; literally returning in all its presence, filling our present, with a vividness equal to – so overwhelming - our present) but returning as semi-presence, marked for the past… Perhaps this is the true time image… marked as semi-present… as ‘not present’ as ‘not now’… so suggesting a whole layer of other meanings… first, past or future, then other connections, and variations; fantasy, alternatives, wish-fulfillment (etc.)…
In fact, the objective unification (of objects) as (the) present conceptualized as the past, works if we note that perception comes after our sense organs input… it is second… so always past, a split-second, past). But this correct observation is not intuitive (nor does it imply the virtual /actual metaphysic), it is the Eternal Present (with its semi-present subsets, the past and the future) that is intuitive (ever present). Again we find a break in our consciousness of the past as just gone (not fading but gone), and retrieved… (‘mind the gap’)… as dis-unifying, to experience. Like a ‘window’ opened, semi-present in the present (mixed qualities, ‘present’, ‘semi-present’, how we recognize their difference).
By way of a summary...
Bergson’s other time, lies beyond both objective and subjective time; so beyond both physics (relativity) and human temporality; as ‘virtual’ (one plane, exchangeable, with simultaneities…). So constituting a self-admitted imaginary? But we already have the time of our imagination (imagined past and future, sometimes imagined in both senses of the world: in the imagination and unreal, without basis). This virtual, metaphysical, ‘nowhere’ time is oddly similar to Heidegger’s grandiose reflections on time (the ‘ontological difference’, between ‘Being’ and ‘beings’ which we might read -again from the point of view of experience- as the difference between the Eternal Present and others). All interestingly similar to ‘Eternity’ as, again, the no-place derived from the present (imaginary parallel of the Eternal Present) and basis for (‘hard wired’) Natural Law/Nature or Gods and universals as ‘elsewhere'… So metaphysical place-time is also based on ‘eternity’, the nowhere place of the mind, now rubbish tip as last resort of metaphysics (in the bad sense…). In place of these ‘nowhere’ places, we might find the ‘now-here’ of the Eternal Present as useful, if subjective, axiom or starting point for deliberations on temporality (including the ‘nowhere’ of ‘eternity’) augmented as necessary by objective time, by quantifiable and empirical observations.
Or again if look at Bergson’s rational Time as opposed to both objective science, or empirical time (relativity and quantum) and to subjective temporality (lived, experiential). This is what we get when we operate with reason alone… counter intuitive findings are fine as an objective position, a result of empirical data arrived at through scientific description - as the other side to subjective experience. But not as part of this double rejection in favour of a metaphysical, rational (scholastic) alternative! Bergson and Deleuze may perhaps be read as the last scholastics… (reason alone… maybe Kant did this too – doubling back after ‘The First Critique’…). For Bergson, the ‘virtual’ is opposed to both, or found somewhere between both, between subjectively experienced temporality and measurable objective time (real outside, or stored in the mind… object ‘memory’, or subject memory before recall – both are unlocatable, unconscious…. outside, again).
So as we dig deeper Bergson’s and Deleuze’s ‘Time’ appears increasingly to be the equivalent of the Eternal Present’s sense of ‘Eternity’ also acting like a guarantee or ballast; something other to experience and science alike, something, ‘time’ as always there, virtual (so like ‘Eternity an Absolute Outside’)…? An imaginary necessity, a necessary fiction? But ‘Eternity’ is derived from the Eternal Present, from our experience of the on-going present (a reversal of Heidegger and Bergson). In the Eternal Present appearance is all: essence (universal/eternal) is fiction… is secondary. Metaphysics or rational concepts are, by definition, universal, eternal, are fictions… are nowhere… (all time all space is no time, no space). The same reversal can be found in Kant in the case of the ‘Sublime’; a secondary effect (reaction) made foundational, made prior, by reason…). So thinking with these is indeed the equivalent of metaphysics, ‘in the bad sense’…
In time; the objective exists as measure; this is not true of human temporality which is experienced as a quality different to the quantitative measure. But an measure we can objectify and so count in the Eternal Present as duration… one laid on the other… (as in ‘boredom’). A quantitative operation and out temporality itself, past, present, future (eternity and dream ‘time’). ‘Duration’ often confuses two things, experience of temporality, in-side and on-going… (becoming, quality) and a sense of ‘countability’ (‘roughly 5 mins ago’) of time passing and measurable (quantitative) as when we watch clocks… (cf. ‘boredom‘ again…). Heidegger was right to focus on boredom, but drew the wrong conclusions (a matter of metaphysics versus ‘everyday’ experience… of grandiose guruism as opposed to simple explanations).
Copyright Peter Nesteruk, 2019