critique of everyday life by henri lefebvre (3)

ok, i got the dates wrong. the first volume was 1947, *this* volume was 1968. and the third volume is 1981. which is pretty wild to think about, considering that this is a work of philosophy (or 'anti-philosophy,' yeah yeah yeah) that spans almost half the twentieth century. i think that more than justifies lefebvre's claim to opening marxist theory up to everyday life in motion. i finished the whole thing yesterday, so i'm gonna try to catch these notes up over the next few days.

clearing the ground

the second volume is by far the longest, and it is an attempt to ground a methodology for a critique of the everyday, that is, a scientific approach for talking about everyday life. because of this, it gets in the weeds sometimes, but it is full to bursting with incredibly useful and well developed concepts.

'historical drift' (297) is lefebvre's term for 'the gap between intentions, actions and results' (314), or the slow separation of everyday life from history. a revolution might install a temporary government to organize the transition from capitalism to socialism, but over time this government might come to serve an entirely different function. it's in this way that in the modern world 'everyday life and historical event' become partially 'dissociated' (315).

isn't that great? what a good concept, what a great term for it. he has a real gift.

more broadly, lefebvre is trying to develop a 'theory of needs' (299) that illuminates the relationship between nature and culture in everyday life. he does so by suggesting that we think dialectically about need and desire: 'there is a transfer from need to desire which crosses the social and society in its entirety' (305). this quote should make it clear that he's not arguing for a naive account of nature or essence, since 'the circuit from need to desire and from desire to need is constantly being interrupted or distorted' (305).

which brings us to lefebvre on gender. lefebvre often expresses himself in awkward terms on the subject, but i think it would be a misreading to chalk up quotes like this to sexist dismissal:

'women' in general bear all the weight of everyday life; they are subjected to it much more than men, in spite of very significant differences according to social classes and groups. (305-306)

lefebvre is particularly interested in texts that target a female demographic--specifically, horoscopes--for how they preserve 'the permanence of cyclic time scales of biological and cosmic origin at the heart of the (intermittent or continuous) linear time scales imposed by technology and industrial labor' (308).

lefebvre wants to study 'the persistence of rhythmic time scales within the linear time of modern industrial society' and their mutual interaction (343). one thing this study illuminates is class hierarchy: 'in the everyday experience of the people . . . cyclic time scales and rhythms predominate, but broken up, fragmented, eviscerated so to speak . . . . in the 'upper sphere' . . . linear time scales predominate, pointing in a single direction, but disconnected from one another' (347). to be on the bottom of the hierarchy is to 'live inside a narrow time scale' whereas the upper class anxiously live in 'the rational and abstract kind of time implied by money and credit' (348).

there's a funny bit where lefebvre pretends to be his critics so he can argue back and forth, usually making fun of various schools of thought along the way, which i won't summarize. but an important emphasis here is that lefebvre's concept of everyday life is not a one-sided account of how we are always alienated and confined to banality in capitalist life. rather, it is through alienation that human creation is confirmed (since that is what is alienated in the first place), the human creativity that can be reactivated to open possibility.

so what is everyday life? it is two things together: 'the residual deposit and . . . the product' of human totality (351). it's what's left over from all the activities that have a name and it's the cumulative form of those activities in day-to-day life. it's both a remainder--what's left out--and everything that isn't left out. the everyday is 'doubly determined . . . as unformed, and as what forms contain' (358).

because it's a residual deposit and product (both after-effects), this means that there's a lag (a drift, even!) between history and everyday life, which lefebvre cleverly compares to the marxist concept of uneven development:

in our history, the uneven development of sectors is also a consequence of history. indeed, in uneven development the everyday defines itself as what legs behind history, but not as what eludes history, events, development and human power. in history, in development, the everyday is also a product. (352)

the everyday is then social. lefebvre coins the term 'social individual' and describes three layers through which consciousness forms within the social:

i don't need to belabor this further, but the point is that each layer has social representations. each layer is social, historical, ideological in some way.

lefebvre seems to me on less sturdy ground when he tries to deal with technology, in this case household products that save time on domestic labor. he makes a few claims about these. this is the only one that really struck me, since it's also what adorno thought:

a reduction in the time devoted to productive actions and gestures which are now carried out by technical objects has raised the question of time itself, and already this is a very urgent problem. if we examine time as it is experienced by many of today's men and women, we will see that is chock-a-block full and completely empty. on the horizon of the modern world dawns the black sun of boredom. (369)

like adorno (and jonathan crary), lefebvre believes that time is all but perfectly synchronized to the demands of capital:

controlled by signals, paradoxically dissociated, everyday time becomes both homogenous and dispersed. work time falls into line with family-time and leisure time, if not vice versa. (373)

um, there's more attempts to reckon with gender, which i don't know that i understand well enough to summarize. i suppose the argument that the return to 'worn-out symbolisms' (377) to valorize traditional gender roles in the absence of alternatives seems useful, and there's certainly compatibility with what i understand kristeva's argument about 'women's time' to be. but i am a little uncomfortable by how easy it is for lefebvre to dismiss the 'pseudo-world' of gendered everyday life.

that said, lefebvre is quite sharp--ahead of his time and ours--on the question of the family, which demonstrates the simultaneous speeding up of history and strengthening of residual forms of privatization and reproduction, 'substituting the small family group in place of the individual' (386). recourse to private life is a defensive measure, and it is a sacrifice of the social: 'private life remains privation' (384). but while the private may seem 'an alibi for escaping from history, from failures, from risks and from threats . . . to run away from the historical and from the problems of society as a whole (in other words to run away from politics), is nevertheless one of the ways history is lived' (388).

what's interesting about lefebvre, i think, is that he's equally influenced by nietzsche and marx. so unlike nietzsche's anti-humanist descendants, he is a very committed humanist who believes in collective history and class struggle. and unlike the marxist hardliners, whose emphasis on political economy is one of the targets of this critique, he wants to activate the potential in cultural subversion.

to know the everyday is to want to transform it. . . . it is to understand the real by seeing it in terms of what is possible. (393)

and that's the first chapter.

the formal implements

the everyday is made up of . . . partial systems, juxtaposed without any rational links, and each one with its own implications and consequences: temporality, rhythms, periodicity, recurrences and repetitions, specific works and symbolizations. these systems are distinct and disconnected. some of them reproduce or prolong former dominant 'systems.' (469)

this chapter is theoretically abstract to such a degree that it's difficult to even try to summarize. partly lefebvre is justifying his approach. if you're interested in everyday life, why not just interview randos on the street? or perhaps record the happenings of an average day in a specific area? because this would not tell us anything about what lefebvre's actually interested in, which is 'the field of possibilities' (405). 'a mass of facts can only prove anything in cases where reality is static' (411). so instead of deduction or induction, lefebvre proposes a method of sociological transduction to describe the loop 'from the present to the virtual and from the given to the possible in a never-ending prospective operation' (412). he doesn't really come back to this tho.

more important to his theory the idea of everyday life as a level. a level is not simply a description of a static reality but a relational concept which contains 'the idea of differences between levels' because 'wherever there is a level there are several levels, and consequently gaps, (relatively) sudden transitions, and imbalances or potential imbalances'--'levels can interact and become telescoped'--while at the same time levels 'remain as units within a larger whole' (413). 'realities rise to the surface, emerge, and take on substance momentarily at a certain level' (414). what this means, at the same time, is that (between, for instance, the levels of everyday life and history) 'there will always be an interval' (416). then there are some bonkers charts.

he talks about continuty/discontinuity, micro/macro, indexes/criteria/variables, be honest, i don't think these are particularly illuminating sections, though perhaps on rereading they will help shore up the logic of the overall work. the one section that did seem useful is on structure. i did not know that marx's use of structure predates its introduction into mathematics, nor that popular use started around 1930.

structure is, paradoxically, 'the process of becoming into immobility.' lefebvre points out that the popularization of structure likely has to do with 'a certain stabilization of the world round about 1930 (with capitalism its ground, and socialism becoming frozen in the face of this persistence)' (451). structure is 'a system of coherent relations . . . located on a certain level above phenomena' (452). lefebvre maintains that structure is not stasis but 'a temporary balance', and 'structures conceal forces which modify them in a perpetual movement.' structure is something like an emergent form: 'structure forms itself in the course of a history' (453).

lefebvre finds the structuralism of levi-strauss and saussure unhelpful in understanding totality. at the same time, lefebvre is not counterposing the everyday as 'a pure, unconditional spontaneity' of the 'astructural' (457). rather, structure is the dialectical counterpart of the conjuncture, the 'pressure on structure from the process of becoming' (459).

and because he is absurdly thorough, lefebvre follows through on the implications of rejecting structuralism: he has to draw up an entirely new linguistics which meets his criteria for dialectical thought. so: 'language is a social fact, and plays a part in all social facts. . . . once it has been constituted, it becomes active. it creates individuals.' however, this isn't the pressure of an external language constructing a consciousness, but a dialectical process, where language 'enables works' and individuals must 'create their way of expression' (464). it's not the furthest thing from structuralism, but he expands on the differences in more detail later on.

the specific categories

lefebvre is still defining concepts here.

so, we've got totality. lefebvre is hardline on the need for totality: 'for an empiricism without concepts, one fact is as food as another. when we try to particularize knowledge, we destroy it from within. . . . if there is no insistence upon totality, theory and practice accept the 'real' just as it is, and 'things' just as they are' (475).

and yet: 'how can we determine a totality from inside?' (480). so we can't do without totality but we also can't really have totality either. lefebvre solves this kind of brilliantly by the idea of 'the will for totality' (481):

once it has taken a definite shape in social practice, each human activity wants the universal. it aspires to universality. it wants to be total. it tends effectively towards totality. therefore it comes into confrontation with other activities. . . . it makes itself real through works, and each work is the result of a momentary totalization. (476)

a totality of the human world can be understood, for lefebvre, through 'three determinations . . . need, labour, pleasure' (485), all of which are of course related and mediated by one another. the shape of their relation--and it's a shape he returns to later--is 'an ascending spiral' (486). i think that image is useful for thinking about dialectics, although he doesn't say that this is a dialectical relation. but if you think about needing food, labouring to produce food, and then establishing a pleasure-relation to food that exceeds the need for it, you can see the spiral as it builds upward.

next, lefebvre deals with reality, mostly to make fun of philosophers who are obsessed with the real. lefebvre doesn't care about the real except insofar as 'the possible enters the real' (489). 'it is in the everyday and its ambiguous depths that possibilities are born and the present lives out its relation with the future' (490). this could be a verbatim quote from lukács:

'all consciousness is consciousness of a possibility'; this is what gives it its acuity, its good luck and its misfortune. without possibility there can be no consciousness, and what is more, no life. presence implies what is possible in the present, and for the present; the future is an indispensable horizon and guiding light. consciousness can never be at home in the real. (491)

and this should make clear that lefebvre's consciousness is not an isolated subjectivity but a hegelian 'self-consciousness . . . born in the other, of the other and by the other' (492).

then he talks about the relationship of function to reality, which he's much more skeptical about as a category. an alternative to function is play, 'rediscovered spontaneity,' perhaps the only 'activity which is not subjected to the division of labour and the social hierarchies.' 'with play another reality is born, not a separate one, but one which is 'lived' in the everyday, alongside the functional . . . play is a lavish provider of presence and presences. one cannot do without it. austerity has no time for it and social order is afraid of it' (497). play is not without function but many possible functions: 'play is momentary transfunctionality which consists of its own unfolding' (500).

ok, now the big one: alienation. this is lefebvre's skeleton key to everyday life, and his big contribution to marxist theory: the emphasis on alienation as a concept in marx.

when ''man' is alienated,' he is 'torn from his self and changed into a thing, along with his freedom' (500). 'alienation is not a 'state'' but a constant movement which both implies disalienation and new alienations in 'a perpetual dialectical movement' (501). 'alienation is the result of a relation with 'otherness', and this relation makes us 'other', i.e., it changes us, tears us from our self and transforms an activity (be it conscious or not) into something else, quite simply, into a thing' (508). lefebvre is clear that otherness is not the other here. the other is what makes consciousness possible; otherness is what distances consciousness from itself (i.e., alienation).

lefebvre draws a distinction between lived and living as concepts. i don't understand it so i'm moving on. same with spontaneity, challenge, mistrust, although a brief note on his concept of ambiguity: ambiguity is a state of ambivalence about a choice or situation where the decision is not yet vital. it's a kind of suspended time, one which (lefebvre says) women are perpetually forced to occupy, and one which is opposed to action. this means that ambiguity 'has a time limit' after which 'the sword of decision' (lol) 'cleaves continuous time into a before and after. true time - many-sided, continuous, and discontinuous, waymarked by the forks in its paths, mapped out by decisions and options - is revealed' (519).

okay, two more really big ones. in some ways his legacy. social space and social time. frustratingly, the latter doesn't really get a clear definition (yet), but social space--which has had a long afterlife, including in abolitionist scholarship--'is the environment of the group and of the individual within the group; it is the horizon at the centre of which they place themselves and in which they live. . . . social space is made up of a relatively dense fabric of networks and channels. this fabric is an integral part of the everyday' (525).

as for social time, lefebvre just says that he's going to propose a 'rhythmanalysis' for understanding the different 'tempos' of 'social time scales' (526). he doesn't really do this, but he does talk a bit more about it later on.

praxis. lefebvre is very committed to the idea of praxis, by which the human subject 'forms his own abilities' (526). 'production produces man. so-called 'world history' or 'the history of the world' is nothing but the history of man producing himself, of man producing both the human world and the other man, the (alienated) man of otherness, and his self (his self-consciousness)' (531).

this is where lefebvre says that within alienation are the seeds of revolutionary praxis. 'beneath an apparent immobility, analysis discovers a hidden mobility.' 'praxis produces the human 'world,' our world, the world of objects and goods, the world our senses perceive and which therefore seems a gift of nature' (532).

of course, if praxis is productive activity, it doesn't just mean revolutionary activity, it means repetitive labour as well. 'a large part of everyday life is made up of stereotyped and repeated actions. this repetitive praxis keeps the human world going, and helps to produce it over and over again. it underlies the human world and constitutes its stability' (533).

but at the same time 'praxis is creative' (534). 'the idea of total praxis . . . is both utopian and realist.' it draws no distinction between action and (critical) knowledge, either, since both are human activity (535).

praxis is the escape hatch from everyday 'empirical thought . . . with its belief in commodities and money as things' (537). commodities and money are the alienated forms of human activity and social relations--what brings them together again is praxis.

ok, next he talks logos/logic/dialectic. mostly what's interesting here is his attempt to derive a social science of everyday life from (then-current) developments in the science of physics. this is not a descriptive project: 'rather than exploring 'being,' we must explore what is possible. . . . ontology is worn out' (549). instead of fixing things as they are, thought should aim at 'the possible impossible' (555).

next, logic/characterology. this is more of his theory of the social individual. it's extremely funny, too, because he goes through a typology of people he doesn't like, an exhausive catalog of types of guys. my favorite is 'the thinker' who 'effortlessly combines the inactivity of the [utopian] with the lack of awareness of the [man of action]'. examples include 'the embittered cuckold' (562). i also like 'the pompous idiot': 'pompous idiots are so stupid that they seem harmless' (565). (among these are 'the avid reader', lmao (566)).

the total field: this is an important one. lefebvre's total field concept is meant to make continuity and discontinuity dialectical. 'everything is in everything and everything is total - and yet nothing it is, is in anything other than itself' (567). this is lefebvre's license to contradict himself as many times as he wants, which is annoying but useful. totality is the goal, but totality never rests. new data modify the whole.

theory of the semantic field

this is where lefebvre draws up an entire philosophy of linguistics to work within his system. that gives a sense of the scale of his ambition here.

lefebvre's 'semantemes', which is such a bad coinage that he never even repeats it, are divided into: signals, signs, symbols, and images.

the signal is binary, automatic, repetitive, and static in signification. it's a stop sign, a red light, etc. it's functional, a closed system.

the sign is where lefebvre tries to diverge, not entirely successfully imo, from saussure. the sign is signifier/signified/sign w/an internal, arbitrary difference. sure. 'to speak is to act', 'discourse is an event and an act' (576). 'because discourses have continuity we are forced into their network and, as a consequence, into the network of the social actions they refract and specify: this action is permitted, that one is forbidden. but discourses are also discontinuous, and their discrete terms act like a sieve, straining the things which rise up from our inner depths. . . . for this reason, it really is a kind of being, a way of being' (577). this is not foucault's discourse which speaks being into existence: language manifests in 'the everyday, not as its loom, but as threads woven into its fabric' (578).

the symbol is the most interesting concept here. it's treated as metonymic, but also a displacement. symbols are also historical, for lefebvre, and much more about collective associations than, say, intentional puns.

the image is like the extreme end of the symbol, 'it overloads . . . signs with its emotional (expressive) content, the origins of which are lost in the mists of time' (581). there is 'a permanent lag between the invention of images and their use, and between the situation of whoever employs them and whoever is influenced by their action' (583). imagination is the dialectical preservation/cancellation of magic, says lefebvre, and the image revives this association.

all of which serves to ground this point: 'the human world is made up of objects, products and human works, not of things. it is also made up other human beings and of the language which links them together' (584). lefebvre is critiquing scientific materialism on the one hand and linguistic structuralism on the other. honestly i wonder what he would have made of bakhtin's work, had it been available sooner.

he theorizes the relationship of consciousness to the semantic field, arguing again for a dialectical understanding and the presence of the extralinguistic while also arguing against what he describes as a kind of phenomenlogical enclosure (592). then he historicizes the signal as the privileged form of signification in industrial life.

in 'industrial society', urban life becomes peopled by innumerable signallings. each one programmes a routine, exactly like a calculator, regulating patterns of conduct and behaviour. we may well ask ourselves whether one day the entire set of signals will not consitute a sort of gigantic machine which will not need to be built . . . . this colossal mechanism will have already regulated society and its everyday life. (594)

then he moves to the role of signs (largely practical) and symbols in everyday life. the symbols of everyday life stage a conflict of times:

every revolution destroys a set of symbols. or else, in attempting to destroy them, it destroys itself. it cannot but try to destroy them, because, as now know, such symbols play a structural or 'structuring' role which is all the more effective for being hidden. as a consequence, every revolution makes enormous efforts to replace the old symbols it has destroyed with new ones. . . . we know how violently the french revolution 'desecrated' space, putting stipulations made by previous scientific knowledge about praxis and social consciousness into effect. it was in this naked, empty social space stripped bare of symbols that the everyday life of the bourgeois was to set up of home. . . . political symbols (such as the flag, etc.) could not replace and eliminate cosmic symbols. henceforth, the symbolisms associated with lived (affective and emotional) time persisted, so to speak, beneath a social space which had been occupied first by signs, and then by signals. . . . the everyday life of bourgeois society was never to become established in a tranquil manner, although tranquility was precisely what it was aiming for. not only would it be forever shaken by insecurity, crises and wars, but the field upon which it was built was shifting, agitated, apparently on the surface, but undermined by forces from below. (599)

language, here, is more conflict-riven than in the structuralist model, but more hierarchical than the post-structuralist model. lefebvre does come close to a foucauldian or derridean perspective when he writes that 'we are all part of a social text. . . . we are all there indissolubly as object and subject . . . since the social text encompasses us and we must see ourselves thus encompassed; then subject, since we see ourselves within the text, and decypher and read it from inside, and never completely from outside' (601).

there's a good about monuments as urban symbols and streets as the last refuge of social life in the modern city ('like the everyday, the street is constantly changing and always repeats itself' (604)). this leads in a more extended discussion of the relationship between everyday life and commodity fetishism.

lefebvre elevates commodity fetishism to pride of place in his critical theory. 'the spectacle of the street stimulates our desire to see things and forms our way of seeing them . . . paradise lost is rediscovered in the form of a parody; at every step original unity is restored in caricature. good, things, and objects are on display . . . there are goods and desires for everyone, democratically, even for children, even for people who are not very rich, but there are a lot more - all of them - for people who are' (605).

this is a very french street we're talking about here.

the street is an intermediary between human lives, and its commodities are exchange values elevated to sovereign heights. raised to its zenith, fetishism attains a kind of splendour. . . . here . . . the specific beauty of our society is accomplished . . . behind the trasparent windows which parody the transparency of human relations. . . . through all the possible and impossible physical delights, all the dreams, all the frustrations, money claims its kingdom, its empire, its pontificate' (606).

elsewhere, 'everything is functional or is intended as such; everything is a signal . . . the repetitive gestures by which the labour force keeps on going in its everyday life...' (606).

the theory of accumulative and non-accumulative processes

anyone who says that marxism is necessarily a developmental teleology or stageist theory of history should read this chapter (and, of course, benjamin). the one downside of this chapter is that i think lefebvre's use of uneven development to draw an analogy between colonized nations and the everyday monotony of life in developed/industrial nations is...risky. but this is a very useful summary of marx's ideas about primitive accumulation and uneven development. the simultaneity of accumulative and non-accumulative social processes is 'a process resembling a rising spiral' in which 'society as a whole continues to reproduces its relations and conditions of existence, but the socio-economic proportions inherent to simple reproduction are modified by the proportions necessary for accumulation on an extended scale' (617).

what we call modernity is the moment in which, because of accumulative processes, 'the economic sphere becomes predominant and determining. the history is made by individuals and groups, but blindly' (618). it is worth stressing just how much explanatory power accumulation has as a framework for understanding modern history. of particular interest is how accumulation develops markets prior to the state in england, france, and the u.s., how states emerge alongside accumulation in germany, italy, and tsarist russia, how states organize accumulation in the socialist states, and how the state forms prior to accumulation in postcolonial nations (619). it's got its limitations, but that's a pretty compelling map of the nineteenth and twentieth century as far as nation-states go.

less interesting is lefebvre's generalization of accumulation as a concept--so that knowledge and rationality are accumulative, e.g. but! very important is the fact that accumulation is in fact the principle of the sovereign individual of civic philosophy. it's well established that legally the individual has 'first and foremost the essential right to own property.' the state can turn on a citizen at any time--we all know this because it happens everyday--because what matters to the state is not the citizen but his right to accumulate: 'each individual can contribute to accumulation' (623). then he applies accumulation to life, which i think is a mistake.

he then turns to non-accumulative processes, which he associates with time (and accumulative processes with space). 'everyday life lies at the ill-defined, cutting edge where the accumulative and the non-accumulative intersect. this is ill-defined and dangerous border territory , particularly because its symbols give the illusory impression of controlling spontaneous nature, while the techniques which really do control it are increasingly hidden from view' (629).

the theory of moments

this is the best part of the entire thing i m o.

the moment is a higher form of repetition, renewal and reappearance, and of the recognition of certain determinable relations with otherness (or the other) and with the self. (638)

the moment is constituted by a choice which singles it out and separates it from a muddle or a confusion, i.e., from an initial ambiguity. (638)

the moment has a certain specific duration. relatively durable, it stands out from the continuum of transitories within the amorphous realm of the psyche. it wants to endure. it cannot endure (at least, not for very long). yet this inner contradiction gives its intensity, which reaches crisis point when the inevitability of its own demise becomes fully apparent. ... essentially present (an essential modality of presence), the moment has a beginning, a fulfillment and an end, a relatively well-defined start and finish. it has a history: its own... (639)

is that not...kind of moving? this is a really beautiful part of the book i think. i guess it helps that his primary example is love.

the moment is not an event in the badiou sense: 'rather than tearing it, it weaves itself into the fabric of the everyday, and transforms it' (640).

the moment is not an assemblage in the deleuze sense: 'the moment has its form . . . this form imposes itself in time and in space. it creates a time and a space which are both objective (socially governed) and subjective (individual and interindividual). (640)

and what is the relationship of the moment to a philosophy of possibility? 'the moment proposes itself as the impossible' (640).

the moment is passion and the inexorable destruction and self-destruction of that passion. the moment is an impossible possibility, aimed at, desired and chosen as such. then what is impossible in the everyday becomes what is possible, even the rule of impossibility. (641)

which means that the moment is dialectical, it 'has its specific negativity':

negativity operates at the heart of whatever tries to structure and constitute itself into a definitive whole, and to come to a halt. (641)

in other words, a moment is 'the attempt to achieve the total realization of a possibility. . . . the moment wants to be freely total; it exhausts itself in the act of being lived' (642). in lukács's language, the moment is a failed totality.

moments are mortal too, and as such, they are born, they lived and they pass away. there is room not only for freedom, a limited freedom but a real one (which comes into being by structuring, destructuring or restructuring everyday life), but for inventiveness and discovery. in this day and age we are witnessing the formation of a moment: rest. with many ambiguities (non-work, leisure) and many ideologies and techniques (such as 'relaxation,' or 'autogenic training'), modern man - because he needs to - is making an effort to live rest as a totality in itself, i.e., as a moment. (648)

moments make a critique - by their actions - of everyday life, and the everyday makes a critique - by its factuality - of paroxysmal moments. (650)

the moment 'gives the everyday a certain shape, but taken per se and extrapolated from that context, this shape is empty. the moment imposes order on the chaos of ambiguity.' the moment is a kind of doubling: 'moments present themselves as duplicates of everyday life, magnified to tragic dimensions' (650). what appears in the moment is 'perhaps . . . the slow stages by which need becomes desire, deep below everyday life, and on its surface' (652).

i almost cried reading this. and that's the end of the second volume.