Answer Key to Bergson and Lefebvre Mash-Up (pts 1-3)

Here are the original sources for the sentences in the Bergson-Lefebvre Mash-up–the complete text follows:

[REFERENCES] L1939 = Lefebvre, Dialectical Materialism; L1991 = Lefebvre, The Production of Space; L1992 = Lefebvre, Rhythmanalysis; L1995 = Lefebvre, Introduction to Modernity; B1896 = Bergson, Matter and Memory; B1907 = Bergson, Creative Evolution; B2002 = Bergson, The Creative Mind

That the lived, conceived and perceived realms should be interconnected, so that the ‘subject’, the individual member of a given social group, may move from one another without confusion – so much is a logical necessity. Whether they constitute a coherent whole is another matter (L1991:40). These planes, moreover, are not given as ready-made things superimposed the one on the other. Rather they exist virtually, with that existence which is proper to things of the spirit. The intellect, forever moving in the interval which separates them, unceasingly finds them again, or creates them anew: the life of intellect consists in this very movement (B1896:322): Look around you at this meadow, this garden, these trees and these houses. They give themselves, they offer themselves to your eyes as a simultaneity. Now up to a certain point, this simultaneity is mere appearance, surface, a spectacle. Go deeper. Do not be afraid to disturb this surface, to set its limpidity in motion.  (L1992:80). You at once notice that every plant, every tree has its rhythm. And even several rhythms (L1992: 80). Henceforth you will grasp every being, every entity and every body, both living and non-living, ‘symphonically’ or ‘polyrhythmically.’ You will grasp it in its space-time, in its place and its approximate becoming: including houses and buildings, towns and landscapes (L1992:80).

No doubt, a town is composed exclusively of houses, and the streets of the town are only the intervals between the houses… But, in a town, it is the gradual portioning of the ground into lots that has determined at once the place of the houses, their general shape, and the direction of the streets: to this portioning we must go back if we wish to understand the particular mode of subdivision that causes each house to be where it is, each street to run as it does (B1907:367-68). In the best diagnosis, when the new town has been successfully completed, everything in it will be functional, and every object in it will have a specific function: its own. Every object indicates what this function is, signifying it, proclaiming it to the neighborhood. It repeats itself endlessly. When an object is reduced to nothing but its own function, it is also reduced to signifying itself and nothing else; there is virtually no difference between it and a signal, and to all intents and purposes a group of these objects becomes a signalling system (L1995:119).

Conceptions of space tend, with certain exceptions to which I shall return, towards a system of verbal (and therefore intellectually worked out) signs (L1991: 39). A house becomes a body, then space, then pure quantity (L1939:68). This is the realm of the perceived (the practical basis of the perception of the outside world, to put it in psychology’s terms) (L1991:40). The whole of matter is made to appear to our thought as an immense piece of cloth in which we can cut out what we will and sew it together again as we please. Let us note, in passing that there is a space, that is to say, a homogeneous and empty medium, infinite and infinitely divisible, lending itself indifferent to any mode of decomposition whatsoever. A medium of this kind is never perceived; it is only conceived. What is perceived is extension colored, resistant, divided according to the lines which mark out the boundaries of real bodies or of their real elements. But when we think of our power over this matter, that is to say, of our faculty of decomposing and recomposing it as we please, we project the whole of these possible decompositions and recompositions behind real extension in the form of a homogeneous space, empty and indifferent, which is supposed to underlie it (B1907:156-57).

Though all the photographs of a city taken from all possible points of view indefinitely complete one another, they will never equal in value that dimensional object, the city along whose streets one walks (B2002:160-61). He who walks down the street, over there, is immersed in the multiplicity of noises, murmurs, rhythms (L1992:28). That is to say, analysis operates on immobility, while intuition is located in mobility or, what amounts to the same thing, in duration. That is the very clear line of demarcation between intuition and analysis (B2002:180). By contrast, from the window, the noises distinguish themselves, the flows separate out, rhythms respond to one another (L1992:28). It cannot be too often repeated: from intuition one can pass on to analysis, but not from analysis to intuition (B2002:180). The rhythmanalyst calls on all his senses. He draws on his breathing, the circulation of his blood, the beatings of his heart and the delivery of his speech as landmarks. He thinks with his body, not in the abstract, but in lived temporality (L1992:21).


Also–If you ask me this quote from Lefebvre would be a perfect beginning sentence to a massive novel–one both dystopian and mundane, focused on city life…

“Capitalism took over the historical town through a vast process, turning it into fragments and creating a social space for itself to occupy… “


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