The memory of another past: Bergson, Deleuze and a new theory of time

Continental Philosophy Review 37 (2):203-239 (2004)
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Abstract

Through the philosophies of Bergson and Deleuze, my paper explores a different theory of time. I reconstitute Deleuze’s paradoxes of the past in Difference and Repetition and Bergsonism to reveal a theory of time in which the relation between past and present is one of coexistence rather than succession. The theory of memory implied here is a non-representational one. To elaborate this theory, I ask: what is the role of the “virtual image” in Bergson’s Matter and Memory? Far from representing the simple afterimage of a present perception, the “virtual image” carries multiple senses. Contracting the immediate past for the present, or expanding virtually to hold the whole of memory (and even the whole of the universe), the virtual image can form a bridge between the present and the non-representational past. This non-representational account of memory sheds light not only on the structure of time for Bergson, but also on his concepts of pure memory and virtuality. The rereading of memory also opens the way for Bergsonian intuition to play an intersubjective role; intuition becomes a means for navigating the resonances and dissonances that can be felt between different rhythms of becoming or planes of memory, which constitute different subjects

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Alia Al-Saji
McGill University