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Friday, 25 January 2013

Rhythms, calendars and the future

Been discussing repetition in my class on Deleuze and Delanda. Deleuze argues that repetition constitutes time because it provokes a modification in whoever contemplates it - the contraction of a habit. All things contemplate and, as a result, all things acquire habits. It is the first passive synthesis of time: the present is configured by a vector of habits. He is then ready to introduce rhythms into process philosophy. Because things have habits, they are entrainable throughout. Entrainement requires preexisting habits. No new habit can be impressed on whoever has no rhythm, no habit, no responsiveness to previous repetitions - responsiveness meaning compressed repetitions. The future is unveiled as what is repeated, what is scheduled by habits, what is induced. There is no future without induction. There is no tomorrow without an calendar induction. Future disasters find spaces in empty slots in our scheme for the future, but they cannot constitute the future - disasters in the sense of Blanchot. The future is constituted by the expectations driven by habits - the expectations of Russell's chicken, of Rostand's rooster...

Calendar's are themselves products of induction. In fact, a calendar is a projection, an inductive hypothesis. (The Mayan calendar is perhaps simpler than others at least in the sense of simplicity associated to evidence - in Popper's terms, if a hypothesis needs less testing points to be falsified, it is simpler.) We project the future on the basis of previous projections that establish the future as a framework, so to speak. If this is so, the generalized suspicion of induction is meaningless. The alternative is to hold that the future is independent from any syntheses of time, independent of repetition, independent of any process. But can it be? Kant takes time to be an a priori form, a condition for experience - but how can it be that such a form is not achieved through some sort of transcendental synthesis? In fact, it makes sense to assume that a subject capable of experience is a subject who is entrained in some rhythm in a way that the scheme for a future (i.e., for instance, a calendar) is available. Deleuze's theory of time could be read as providing a transcendental account of time by showing what is needed for empirical judgement in terms of an underlying (larval) structure of the subject that places her in a rhythmic context. Here Deleuze uses also a Kantian strategy: exorcize the transcendent (time) by rehearsing a transcendental story. Incidentally, the general outcome concerning knowledge (of the future) is also Kantian: global doubts can only subsist if we don't consider whether it makes sense to conceive of a global doubter.

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