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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Interactions, intra-actions and the present time

Beginning to get acquainted with Karen Barad's notion of intra-actions. The issue that comes to my head is the timing of action in intra-action. Is it the present time of events - that is contemporary to us because it shares our sense of present - or rather is it a presence beyond all present time - a sort of previous time or maybe no time at all?

Much of what goes on in process philosophy - and specifically in monadologically conceived process philosophy, like in Tarde, Latour and Whitehead - is the redemption of the present time as the time where determinations take place. The present time replaces structural relations or ready-made substances. So, in Leibniz's monadology, the presence of God and the interaction between monads take place outside the present time. Relations between the different substances are not necessary ones, as it is not necessary that the world is the way it is. That means that the world and the relation between different substances are not given by reason alone, they are therefore a product of some kind of interaction. In fact, God is present among everything that takes place in the world as He has chosen each bit of the world after considering an infinite number of alternative possible worlds. Hence, that the wind will interact with my hair now is something considered by God when selecting a world to create - the choice was the wisest and the possible world chosen the most perfect. God considered every movement of my hair and decided for one series of movement (the best in terms of maximized uniformity, variety and beauty for the whole world). Likewise, the substances interacted with each other when they where compared with different substances in different worlds. Without the sin, Adam would be someone else, say Adam*. Now, Adam* was compared with Adam in relation to the apple, say. This was an interaction (or rather an intra-action?). As a result of that encounter, it was decided that Adam* would not be part of the existing world and Adam will be such that he would relate to the apple in the known way. All this took place in a sort of previous time (the time of the choice of worlds in the mind of God) or maybe in no time at all. In any case, there is no interaction (and no presence of God in the world) in the present time. In other monadologies - those that Deleuze diagnosed in the regime capture as oppose to that of closure, like Leibniz' - the present time is the time of interaction. The present time is brought in as a deciding instance: what goes on is decided in a time that is contemporary to what is going on. There is no previous time where things are rehearsed and decided. (This is why we have an impression of greater contingency: in those monadologies but not in Leibniz, it seems like things go on only once and einmal is keinmal...).

Incidentally, when the present time overruns every form of a process, it becomes the contemporaneity of the time of the other that doesn't institute anything but simply makes itself present. It becomes an unstructured time. If we take the present time beyond any event, we reach the limit of monadological thinking. There is no more room for an alter-ego, or for an alter-tempo. The present time, with its appeal, dissolves in fact all ontological structure. This is the route opened by Levinas.

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