There is a time of writing that differs from the time of the text. The text is a thing. It is a machine that has come to stand in the world, that has achieved a degree of autonomy, and that now circulates about the world as its own machine. The text, like a brain, institutes a strange temporality. Unlike chronos as described by Deleuze, where time is a succession of instants with moments passing away and new moments appearing, the text institutes a folding and stratification of time. The text preserves, it inscribes traces, and restructures time as a consequence. In Gramaphone, Film, Typewriter, Kittler remarks that “[w]hat phonographs and cinematographs, whose names not coincidentally derive from writing, we are able to store was time…” (3). With writing, the past is now present in the present like one photographic image superimposed upon another. The passage of time is now no longer one of the gradual fading and disappearance of what has been, but rather what has been persists in the presence.
Perhaps every author experiences this; a strange sort of dividuation that takes place as a result of the written. No doubt this is why the written has so often been associated with death. The author becomes a sort of walking dead, trapped as they are in the words she has inscribed or in the way she has preserved the flowing purport of thought made matter. Where writing is a verb, the unfolding of a thought that she has not yet thought, the written is the dead letter, fallen into matter and now present in the world. She has been dividuated by her writing. The author is always two. She is the writing, but also the written that persists after her. She is responsible for and before the written, yet also not it. She is responsible for what she has written, for she inscribed those things and made them actual in the world. “But you said this!” But already she is elsewhere in her writing and can scarcely even recall that she wrote this. Continuously she faces the question: “will I ever be equal to what I have written? Will I ever write so well again?” It is easy to lose ones nerve, easy to experience terror before the dehiscence, the spaltung, that is writing and the written. How strange it is to come across your writing as a reader, having forgotten that you have written this, and to encounter your split, your being as the walking dead, before a text that you produced but don’t recall having produced. The time of the written is a time of waiting. One waits to see whether it will register in the world, whether it will exists, while also dreading that it will for already you are elsewhere, beyond the written, after the written, in writing.
It is thus with trepidation before the corp(u)s behind me that I find echoing in my thought the thesis that the minimal unit of being is the fold. The minimal unit of being is not the things, not the object, but the dyad; the dyad between thing and field. Do I murder this other body that I am by authorizing myself to think the fold? Do I murder that which is most distinctive in that body that is the written, by inscribing the fold? Or was it that I was always thinking an ontological origami, an immanent origami of being, when thinking the thing?
The fold is a thought of continuity. That which is folded, the thing, is continuous with the field out of which it is folded. Where object-oriented philosophy proclaimed an independence of all relation, a discrete conception of being composed of units, pli-tology speaks of an interiorization of a field in the formation of a fold that is both continuous with the field out of which it is folded, yet distinct from it. Folding, of course, is an activity, a verb. The foldings of being should not be conceived as something that occur within being that is then finished in accomplished– a sort of dialectic between the potential and the actual, of dunamis and energeia –but rather as an ongoing activity or process of folding where there are perpetual exchanges between thing or the folded and field or that which is folded. The folded arises from the field, creasing it in all sorts of complex ways, and rebounds back upon the field modifying it in all sorts of ways. Here I hasten to add that dyadism is not a dualism. There is not one thing, the object, and another thing, the field. There is instead inseparable bond between the two, the folding of their difference, the activity of their differentiated, which both divides and unites. Things are, as Stacy Alaimo argues, trans-corporeal; they are folded into one another, sheathed in one another, in a generalized dyadism.
If it were not so strange, I’d be inclined to abandon the language of “things” altogether, instead speaking of vortices. In his magnificent Birth of Physics, Serres writes, “…this vortex, tourbillon… is none other than the primitive form of the construction of things, of nature in general, according to Epicurus and Democritus. The world is first of all this open movement, composed of rotation and translation” (6). The most elementary model of the thing should not be the rock, nor the hammer, but rather the vortex as in instances of whirlpools, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Everywhere being is composed of vortices. There is, first of all, the field that is everywhere populated by turbulence. Here we encounter a very delicate and intricate a-theological issues: motion, turbulence– which is to say, the formation of form –does not come to being or the universe from without, but is always-already immanently operative within being. Being, the universe, requires no prime mover in order for motion to take place. Rather, everywhere there are flows of turbulence. Occasionally those flows come together and a vortex emerges. These vortices arise from these fields of turbulence and continuously draw from these fields of turbulence. Even vortices like rocks require turbulence to continue. This is why rocks are folds of a field that exceed them, while nonetheless being distinct from these fields (conditions of temperature, pressure, etc). If they depart too far from the field out of which they grow and live, they dissipate like so much morning mist.
A vortex is thus a particular organization, as ongoing process, of a field of turbulence. It is turbulence that has attained rotary motion. Yet in attaining rotary motion, vortices do not simply withdraw into themselves. Rather, they rebound back on the field of turbulence out of which they have grown. The field is reconfigured as a result of their rotary motion, creating circumstances in which different forms of turbulence and other vortices come into being. Even a writing is a fold and a vortex, drawing from a field but creating all sorts of turbulence around it.