Thursday, 16 April 2009

Discrepancy, Surplus and Rhythm

Johnson's rebuttal of Berkley's immaterialism was material enough: he stubbed his toe, a demonstration that reality and what Berkley thought about reality were discrepant.

But what about the hurt that stubbing causes? Why do toddlers complain (about, say, a bump on the knee) when the hurt itself has faded? Perhaps they're inventing memory, developing a sense of time in all its passing and perdurance: the hurt received back then versus the remedy just now delivered; what you thought was there versus what actually is there, and so on.

I quoted this from Scurati once before:

'Here in the zone of contact, the cause does not precede the effect. Here the chronological order doesn't matter. Here the cause of what has been done not only still has to be discovered but actually does not yet exist.'
(Antonio Scurati: Il sopravissuto)

This variant comes from Wu Ming:

'We are on the summit of time, where the answer precedes the question, the effect precedes the cause, death precedes birth.

'You had to climb this hill to understand the journey you had taken.'
(Wu Ming: Manituana)

But time is also rhythm.

Lazzarato describes (in Videofilosofia) how Bergson distinguishes between, on the one hand, time as perceived by the senses and, on the other, time as conceived by the intellect. There is more 'reality' in sensation, according to Bergson, and that 'surplus' of reality in perception is to be sought, according to Nietzsche, within the body. He then traces the whole thing back to an Aristotelian sense of time extensively measuring the movement that is in Nature (in other words a cosmology) versus a neo-Platonic view of time as intension, as measuring out the movement of the soul.

In Svevo's La coscienza di Zeno the breathing of Zeno's dying father has a fretful quality which Zeno imitates 'almost unconsciously', before affording himself pauses which he hopes to pass on to his patient. The rhythm of the father's dying breaths seems to become part of the room 'from that point and for a long, long time after that.' In fact what Svevo seems to be describing here is the sort of entrainment whereby memory develops as a sort of felt persistence.

In a related passage Zeno plays the violin:

'Even the lowest sort of being, once he knows what three, four and six note figures are, knows how to pass between them with the same rhythmical exactness as his eye knows how to pass from one set of notes to the next. With me, though, once I've played one of these figures, it sticks to me and will not let me go again, so that it gets mixed up with the figure following and deforms it. In order to put the notes in the right place I have to mark time both with my feet and with my head, and so much for nonchalance, for serenity, so much for music. Music that comes from an organism that's in balance both is itself the time that it both creates and exhausts.'
(Svevo: La coscienza di Zeno)

And here, finally, for good measure, are some quotations from Sapienza in Onda, the Rome section of the Anomalous Wave, 18 March 2009:

'We have entered a new era. Today we can say this unambiguously, without prevarication. The recession is concrete reality: the government doesn't doubt it: police against the students, police against dissenters, police and baton charges against those who won't pay for this crisis!

'The Wave isn't dead. The Wave isn't some memory of youth. The Wave is alive and it doesn't intend to stop. The Wave causes fear.'