Friday, 25 February 2011


'Nothing says that the present reduces to presence' (Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative)

'Presence is not a quality or a property of the thing. Presence is the act by which the thing is put forward: prae-est. It is put forward or in front of its nature as a thing, and of everything which immerses this nature in the world of its connections: origins, relations, process, finalities and becomings. The nature of the thing is in its birth, as the word "nature" indicates, and in its unfurling within these relations. It can subsist only in this movement, and its permanence is in the passing. But presence is the act that subtracts a thing as it passes. In this way it subtracts the thing from its thingness, or it withdraws the thingness from the thing — that is, all the reality of the res — in the single foregrounding, in this single advancement. This advancement is that of the present. The present is not ahead in time, for that which is ahead in time in relation to a past, is immediately behind in relation to a future. Unless the contrary is true. But in either sense, the present in time is nothing: it is pure time, the pure present of time, and thus its pure presence, that is, the negativity of the passing. From "already no longer" to "not yet", is a passage without pause, a step not taken, neither disposed nor exposed, inexposable, only and ceaselessly deposing all things.' (Jean-Luc Nancy, 'The Technique of the Present')

Can't both be right. Talk of the prescence of the present only makes sense if the present contains the future in some nascent form? Impossible to tease the present out of the flow; but then again -- maybe we just don't have the right tools.

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