Memory is not in us . . .

“The past is not to be confused with the mental existence of recollection-images which actualise within us. It is preserved in time: it is the virtual element into which we penetrate to look for the ‘pure recollection’ which will become actual in a ‘recollection-image’. The latter would have no trace of the past if we had not been to look for its seed in the past. It is the same with perception, just as we perceive things where they are present, in space, we remember where they have passed, in time, and we go out of ourselves just as much in each case. Memory is not in us; it is we who move in a Being-memory, a world memory.”

Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2

4 thoughts on “Memory is not in us . . .

    • Like much of D&G, I read more for the poetry of it, having insufficient depth of knowledge to judge its validity. In this case, there are some interesting parallels with how Dorothy Richardson writes of memory.

  1. Hello Anthony, Thanks for this post. The concept is interesting: a bit like the Buddhist ‘alaya consciousness,’ that is thought of – by some schools – as a repository of past actions; and so possible seeds of present ones. There are major arguments between Buddhist schools on this point: whether such a thing exists, or not, given the absence of a stable self.
    The Deleuze statement makes me think whether Time (with a big T) exists or not. In my very limited understanding of quantum physics, it seems that Time is rather malleable at the speed of light. So the question that arises for me is: What could possibly exist within it?
    And: What exactly is Time? Can it be said to exist as ‘a thing’?
    The concept of Being (with a big B), I find fascinating… particularly in terms of Buddhist philosophy… again no concrete answers, thank goodness.
    I’ve always thought that Guattari and Deleuze were interested in the right things (e.g. William Burroughs) but I’m not always left convinced by their conclusions.
    The last book I read was by Chris Kraus called ‘I Love Dick.’ (Apparently there was a recent TV series based on it that Saudamini described as pretty vapid). Anyway, I hadn’t thought to read it until I found out that Chris Kraus has just written a biography of Kathy Acker. So I got ‘I Love Dick’ from the library and found it full of very accessible critical theory that forms part of the fabric of the book’s conceit. At one point Kraus talks of a dinner with Felix Guattari where he and some other male intellectuals propose a TV panel on the state of the left in Europe. They decide they need one more person. When Kraus suggests Christa Wolf, who was in the process of organising new socialist party in Germany, Guattari says, ‘No… Christa Wolf is not an intellectual.’
    Apropos of which, Kraus quotes a poet, Anna Notley, who says: ‘Because we rejected a certain kind of theoretical language, people just assumed that we were dumb.’
    I think you might well enjoy the Kraus book. It mixes sexual infatuation and critical theory in a unique way. Hard to know what’s fact and what’s fiction, but I was okay with that in this case.
    So, thanks for posting this quote. Interesting that it reflects your reading of Dorothy Richardson. Your post led me off onto this train of thought. Sorry if the response is a bit long. Best wishes…

    • Thanks for the comment, very interested in that perspective from Buddhism.
      I read ‘I Love Dick’ as a follow on to Kate Zambreno’s Heroines about 5 years ago and thought it very fine, though I only recall now the broad sweep. Kathy Acker’s influence was clear, so it makes sense that Kraus is now writing a biography. One of the passages I wrote into my notebook at time strikes me as something Dorothy Richardson would agree with: “To be female still means being trapped within the purely psychological. No matter how dispassionate or large a vision of the world a woman formulates, whenever it includes her own experience and emotion, the telescope’s turned back on her. Because emotion’s just so terrifying the world refuses to believe that it can be pursued as discipline, as form.”

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