THE CAESURA OF THE ACT

THE CAESURA OF THE ACT

 

 

 

 

 

 

The act that engenders thinking within thought occurs in the wake of the encounter with intensity (the cogitandum) and the transcendent exercise of the faculties. Accordingly, thinking is not the act of a preconstituted, already individuated psychic agent but rather something that is provoked by intensive difference; it is the effect of a transcendent exercise of the faculties wherein the psyche is folded back into its own field of individuation in such a way as to usurp its specification in the I and its organization in the self (Deleuze 1968: 330, 1994: 257).

 

If thinking is the most intense and most individual act it is because it precludes the habitual differenciation of psychic singularities into the form of the I and the explication of psychic intensities in the matter of the self, through an act that implicates the psyche back into its own process of individuation. In the act of thinking, claims Deleuze, ‘what the self has become equal to is the unequal in itself’ – in other words, intensity or intensive individuation as such (Deleuze 1968: 121, 1994: 90).

 

Thinking is the most individual act because it flashes forth as the determination which correlates larval consciousness with pre-individual singularities (or determinate thought and indeterminate Idea) in an individuation that raises up the latter’s unconscious, pre-individual depths to shatter the surface of actual consciousness (Deleuze 1968: 197, 1994: 151–2).

 

Thus psychic individuation involves an act in which the intensive realm of pre-individual singularities surfaces within individuated psychic actuality, usurping the specification of consciousness in the I and its organization in the self. Thinking is that act wherein the individual becomes adequate to its own individuation by accessing the individuating realm of pre-individual singularities and implicated intensities through the fracture of time that splits the I from the self: ‘The individual in intensity finds its image neither in the organization of the self nor in the specification of the I but, on the contrary, in the fractured I and the dissolved self [i.e. the larval subject], and in the correlation between the fractured I and the dissolved self’ (Deleuze 1968: 332, 1994: 259).

 

Inbecoming equal to the domain of intensive individuation as the unequal in itself, the thinker becomes ‘the universal individual’ who affirms eternal recurrence: ‘The thinker, doubtless the thinker of eternal recurrence, is the individual, the universal individual’ (Deleuze 1968: 327, 1994: 254).

 

 

This affirmation of eternal recurrence involves an act of ontological repetition. Bearing in mind Deleuze’s dictum that ‘repetition is a condition for action before it is a concept of reflection’, it is clear that thinking’s break with the requirement of reflection and the strictures of representation is inseparable from an act of ontological repetition which ‘makes the difference’ between the psychic repetition of the past and the physical repetition of the present (Deleuze 1968: 374, 1994: 293).

 

While the actualization established by the synthesis of habit restricts the psychic individual to the repetition of the present, and the actualization brought about by the synthesis of memory confines him to the repetition of the past, the third synthesis involves an actualization through which the psychic individual produces the future according to a repetition of the past which eliminates the latter as repeated condition, and a repetition of the present which eliminates the latter as repeating agent. Between the physical repetition of the past in habit and the psychic repetition of the present in memory comes the ontological repetition which produces the future in the form of a ‘repetition of repetition’ that determines the difference between these repetitions while eliminating both the past, as the repeated condition of repetition, and the present, as the repeating agent of repetition:

 

Repetition now pertains imperatively to repetitions; to modes or

types of repetition. Thus the frontier or ‘difference’ has been singularly

displaced; it is no longer between the first time and the others,

between the repeated and the repetition, but between these types of

repetition. It is repetition itself which is repeated.

Deleuze

 

 

 

It is this act of ontological repetition that produces thinking as a ‘caesura’ in the order of time, which in turn introduces the fracture of time into thinking: ‘It is the caesura, and the before and after which it ordains once and for all which constitute the fracture of the I (the caesura is precisely what gives birth to the fracture)’ (Deleuze 1968: 120, 1994: 89 tm). The caesura establishes an order, a totality, and a series of time. It effects an ordination of time that distributes a ‘before’, a ‘during’, and an ‘after’ relative to the act in the simultaneity of a static synthesiswhich separates time’s pure form from its chronologically sequenced empirical content. It determines the totality of time by fixing an image or symbol for the act that configures time as a whole in the static synthesis of the ‘before’, the ‘during’, and the ‘after’ (eternal recurrence is precisely such an image or symbol).

 

Lastly, it establishes the series of time by determining the difference between the repetition founded in the present and the repetition grounded in the past through the act that repeats these repetitions while eliminating the repeated past and the repeating present (Deleuze 1968: 379, 1994: 297).

 

Thus the caesura effects an ordination which, as Deleuze puts it, throws time out of joint (Deleuze 1968: 119, 1994: 88). Time’s joints are those cardinal points which subordinate it to periodic movement according to a measure of succession: 1st, 2nd, 3rd; past, present, future.

 

Moreover, the relation of succession obtains not only between terms in a single series – the 1st, 2nd, 3rd in the 1st series – but also across series – 1st series, 2nd series, 3rd series – as well as between terms in successive series – 11, 12, 13. Thus while time is jointed and subordinated to the number of movement it continues to be articulated according to successive cycles of repetition and coordinated according to relations of intra-cyclic repetition (2 repeats 1, 3 repeats 2, etc.) or inter-cyclic repetition (12 repeats 11, 22 repeats 21, etc.). Relations between repeated terms within a series, or between repeating series themselves, are determined in conformity with the strictures of analogy and resemblance.

 

Thus, whether intra-cyclic or inter-cyclic, repetition performed under the aegis of jointed time remains subordinated to identity and hence external to the repeated (Deleuze 1968: 376–7, 1994: 294–5). But in springing time free from its joints, the caesura orders series according to a fixed and static synthesis that is no longer bound by the requirements of representation and the dynamic determinations of time’s empirical content. It distributes both terms and series independently of any measure of movement or order of succession, and hence in such a way as to preclude the subsumption of their differences under judgements of analogy or perceptual resemblances.

 

By introducing the fracture of pure time into consciousness, the caesura of thinking establishes time as a structure wherein what is repeated is no longer identity but a repetition that already harbours difference within itself.

 

The past that is repeated is no longer the model for its repetition in the present, and the repeating present is no longer a copy dependent upon what it repeats. Thus the difference established by the caesura is not a difference between past, present, and future understood as the difference between an originary ‘first instance’ and its successive repetitions (1st, 2nd, 3rd …) iaccordance with a relation of succession inrepresentation, but rather a difference between the repetition that only repeats ‘once and for all’ and the repetition that repeats an infinity of times for every time.

 

The repetition that only repeats once is eliminated by the repetition which can only repeat what has already been repeated an infinity of times.

 

The time ‘before’ the caesura is the condition for the act but a condition whose existence is retroactively determined by the act which it conditions; similarly, the time ‘during’ which the act occurs serves as its agent, but an agent whose existence is retroactively cancelled by the time which it produces as coming ‘after’ it:

 

The Before and the During are and remain repetitions, but repetitions

which only repeat once and for all. It is the third repetition

which distributes them in accordance with the straight line of time,

but which also eliminates them, determining them to operate only

once and for all and keeping the ‘all times’ for the third time alone

[…] The frontier is no longer between a first time and the repetition

that it renders hypothetically possible, but between the conditional

repetitions and the third repetition or repetition in the eternal return,

which renders the return of the other two impossible […] As we have

seen, the condition of the action by default does not return; the condition

of the agent by metamorphosis does not return; what alone

returns is the unconditioned in the product as eternal return.

Deleuze

 

 

Thus what the affirmation of eternal recurrence eliminates is the repetition of the identical, while what it produces is the future as the ‘unconditioned’; the instance of absolute novelty which Deleuze explicitly associates with works of art (Deleuze 1968: 374–5, 1994: 293) as simulacra or ‘systems wherein the different relates to the different through difference itself’ (Deleuze 1968: 383, 1994: 299 tm).

 

The caesura of time effects a selection wherein repetition in intensity and differentiation in the Idea are separated from the repetition of habit and the difference in the concept. It marks the point at which difference in itself is repeated for itself. The future as unconditioned or absolute novelty emerges through the fracture of time that allows individuation to rise up to the surface of consciousness in the gap between its specific form and its organized matter. But it is the caesura that generates this fracture in consciousness and hence the act of the thinker that produces the new.

 

Thus it seems that the act through which consciousness is fractured by the form of time in such a way as to introduce novelty into being is a peculiarprivilege of complex psychic systems. Only consciousness can be folded back into its own pre-individual dimension; only the psychic individual can become equal to its own intensive individuation. Ultimately, it is the thinker – the philosopher-artist – who is the ‘universal individual’.

 

 

 

 

 

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