Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Experience in the Past Tense

If we admit that memory is a structure of consciousness must we also admit that our lives are experienced in the past tense? To what extent? Dylan Trigg says, "Admitting that the real is absent, that our lives can only be experienced in the past tense, and that the foundation of home is disrupted by the opposing fluctuation between the desire of the present and the perishing of the past, exile emerges as the grounding mode of consciousness" (The Aesthetics of Decay, p. 40, emphasis mine). By way of clarification, he has earlier said that "[b]ecause concsciousness operates between opposing modes of memory and temporal divisions, it finds itself in an impasse whereby it is only able to fully experience itself through the act of recollection" (p. 36).

I don't agree with this, but it's not terribly easy to justify my disbelief. I don't want to adopt the position that the fullest experiences are those that take place without any intervention of memory, nor would I want to deny the fullness of the experience of an act of recollection. I might say that experience gets its fullness from its being enacted, but I'm not sure that experience that is passively undergone isn't also full, and besides, I don't really want to duck the issue of memory. Can there be a grounding mode of consciousness that doesn't involve memory? I wouldn't suspect that were likely. Can I take the view that there is no grounding mode of consciousness without defaulting to some preconcieved notion of what consciousness is actually like? This is a constant challenge for me. I don't really have any answers.

NB. Be sure to check out Dylan's blog. He's already responded to my previous posts about his book, and his posts are generally illuminating, elegant and lucid.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 1:45 PM.


Anonymous John said...

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January 17, 2007 7:45 PM  

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