3.0 MEMORY, DURATION, SPEED
Let's look closely at memory, duration, and speed. It is clear at this point that each instrumentality deploys itself to varying degrees of effect depending on the 'balance' between these parameters. Bergson's memory is 'virtual coexistence.', and is identical 'in principal' to duration. The act of sinking into memory involves first a general invoking of the past, then a search for specificity. This is described as a 'leap into ontology.' After this leap has been made, recollection gradually takes on a psychological existence. "From the virtual it passes into the actual state." This actual state is the moment where the virtual becomes operative. Bergsonism, p57
This mechanism also becomes the locus for our confusion of recollection images and perception images- which is in part why the retinal exercises such a force and makes cinema (or more frighteningly, television) as powerful a realm as it is in the configuration of subjectivity. Bergson shows the relation between these two kinds of images by placing the mechanism of memory, the virtual coexistence of the past, coeval with the present: "The past would never be constituted if it did not coexist with the present whose past it is." Bergsonism, p59 Coexistence becomes a key factor in our understanding of how duration, memory, and perception intersect.
'Duration is indeed real succession, but it is so only because, more profoundly, it is virtual coexistence: the coexistence with itself, of all the levels, all the tensions, all the degrees of contraction and relaxation (détente). Thus with coexistence, repetition must be reintroduced to duration... a repetition of planes rather than elements on a single plane; virtual instead of actual repetition. The whole of our past is played, restarts, repeats itself, at the same time.' Bergsonism, pp 60-1
Memory is a difference of kind- and calls forth non reducible differences. This condition aligns it with the mathematically/geometrically anexact: it is "...susceptible to measurement only by varying its metrical principles at each stage of the division." Bergsonism, p40 Existing/perceiving as we do in a continuous multiplicity is thus the condition of being thrown into duration, whilst simultaneously perceiving. Here we find the operative realm for strategies that produce encounters with duration. As part of their nature, they possess irreducible and anexact multiplicities.The non numerical multiplicity is duration. Duration/intuition bind together to form a rebuttal to the dialectic, which locates itself in a false articulation of the real, and then a false response to that articulation.
What is the role that speed plays in this constitution of memory in the virtual? For Bergson the delay in time, the actual neural delay, sets up the instrumentality of memory, putting it into duration. I am interested in this in that the computer invokes an increase in speed in terms of certain specialized computing tasks- and in the sorting and archiving of information. So speed plays a role in transforming structures- as in the vertebrate which folds itself in half so rapidly that it acquires the territory of the cuttlefish.
This is what Foucault is touching on when he isolates speed, territory and communication as the three great variables of modern space. Before tackling the political significance of territory and communication, though, I would like to look again at the relation of speed to time and memory.
Bernard Steigler, a participant in the Electrotecture conference last year, makes two points of interest to us here. In the course of suggesting that speed may well be older than time, and considering the technological reasons at play in this idea, he suggests that in virtuality we question the recasting of the boundaries between the real and fictive:
'If we say that speed is older than space and time, then from the Nietzschean point of view this leads to an erasure of the difference not only between fiction and reality but also the organic and the nonorganic. This is a crucial concept for Nietzsche, particularly in terms of this notion of selectivity and the struggle for existence.'
As we have developed above, the subject exists in an imperfect composite of perception and recollection, one always superimposed on the other. Steigler deals with a particular inflection of memory- he says 'I subscribe to Derrida's term retentional finitude, which ...means that our memory, which since Hegel has been thought as interim or interiorized memory, is in fact based on objective or external memory. ' Steigler cites Borges' story Funes, the Memorious, as an example of memory related to forgetting and selection, thus '(posing) ...the Nietzschean question of memory.' This ties the relation of power and the will to the idea '...that Nietzsche's elaboration of power is actually based on a technological understanding of selection.'
Therefore, '... time (like space) cannot be thought except in relation to speed (which remains unthought).' [these quotes from ANY #3, Electrotecture ] The significance for us in these questions lies mainly in Steigler's questioning the operative limits of the real and the fictive, and the explicit tie to the instrumentality of speed upon the 'computerized' mind.
Note also that the temporal dimension suffers an attenuation along the evolution that moves from real time vocal interaction, to much slower, textual interaction in printed matter (if in fact there is any interaction)-- back to real time interaction with the telephone; arriving at potentially real-time but completely non interactive media, with the radio and the television. Finally we encounter the speed of games like Marathon, or the WWW, which invoke very different forms of the dialogic.
These speeds demand a thinking through of the perceptual boundaries that inflect our definitions of the dialogic. The Internet steps into a new position, as it allows real time text communication, voice, image; and in a format that resists (currently) the canalizations that pouvoir imposes upon the current mass media.
[CONTINUE] 4.0 INSTRUMENTALITIES/PROJECTS