It’s nice to think of history as not something erased, ghostly, absent, but the very thing that gives the present its weight and thickness. What’s nice about this is that, then, history lies, clenched like a fist, in the somber density of things. And, like a clenched fist, its extremities come into contact with each other in the firm folds of skin, folds which contain enough mysteries for thought to content itself with indefinitely. In this dense tangle the past loses its linear logic imposed upon it by the present, which demands a single file in both directions, and gains its multitudinous density, and force that goes with that.
And what’s good for the history of an object is good for the history of a thought. For it does not, taking offense at said density, spread out the folds, until all that lies in front of it are the atoms of history, impaled like beetles; rather, it zooms into these meshes, out of which new densities jump like bugs on the windshield. The contiguities of waves, of bodies, of the impressionistic splatters that mold our perception: a world of intensity. We are mistaken to take the density of the past for gravity: for what is heavier than the seemingly empty interval that is the present?
In the end, what urges us is not the question of what we’ll find once we’ve neatly cut up everything into neat little pieces, and arranged them back into a long, well-behaved line for our inspection, but rather what kind of weapons and instruments we would need to mold to be capable of performing such incisions in the first place.
Cover illustration: Joseph Stella, “Brooklyn Bridge”, (1919-20), [Detail].