Volume 45, Issue 2, Summer 2007
The Temporality of Life
Merleau-Ponty, Bergson, and the Immemorial Past
Borrowing conceptual tools from Bergson, this essay asks after the shift in the temporality of life from Merleau-Ponty’s Phénoménologie de la perception to his later works. Although the Phénoménologie conceives life in terms of the field of presence of bodily action, later texts point to a life of invisible and immemorial dimensionality. By reconsidering Bergson, but also thereby revising his reading of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty develops a nonserial theory of time in the later works, one that acknowledges the verticality and irreducibility of the past. Life in the flesh relies on unconsciousness or forgetting, on an invisibility that structures its passage.