Duration and Endurance

I am thinking about time and theories of change after reading Suzanne Guerlac‘s Thinking in Time.

But first a detour through the poets:. As Seamus Heaney wrote (in another context) “A new rhythm, after all, is a new life given to the world, a resuscitation not just of the ear but of the springs of being.” Biding one’s time is listening for the broken rhythm or consciousness’s shift from simultaneity to the multiplicity of Bergsonian duration. Waiting becomes a mode of inquiry.

Out of this rearranged experience of time through a broken rhythm emerges refreshed ways of perceiving. As Guerlac explains, Bergson approached perception as a readiness for action. But it is a readiness thanks to duration that is not mere reflex. “Perception, then, is a question posed to the body that responds to it.”

Bergsonian duration opens up a new view of causation. The world becomes perceived in its indeterminateness. “In the duration, there is no juxtaposition of events; therefore there is no mechanistic causality. It is in the duration that we can speak of the experience of freedom.” (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bergson/)

This is almost a narrative, a theory of change. But it’s not a step-by-step mechanical procedure. Broken rhythm, open perception, indeterminacy and freedom: in duration and multiplicity they overlap and are not discrete nodes in a narrative.

This brief excursion doesn’t directly cultivate pragmatic approaches. But it might provide a reminder that engagement on multiple fronts reflects a trust in emergent properties of systems. Change is possible. And even surprising. And to remember this is to resist predeterminations.

And so for day 2872

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One Response to Duration and Endurance

  1. Yet the recognition that nothing is guaranteed is not the same thing as resignation; on the contrary, it is a call to persist.

    Hal Foster


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