By Vladimir Jankélévitch
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This first opposition gives rise to a second that completes it. To make up the duration of the mind [esprit], conservatory memory must in fact have an auxiliary. Temporal “immanence” by itself would not suffice irreducibly to differentiate organisms and mechanisms. For it to be possible to talk about, if not a veritable implication of the past in the present, then at least a certain presence of the past, a kind of immanence of coexistence must immediately accompany the immanence of succession.
12 Symbolic thought thus does not draw the real from its source. It is content with a replica whose abstract simplicity makes it manageable but which no longer has the freshness of the original. It condemns itself to the uncertainty that afflicts all unconscious symbolism, all thought absent from itself. While immediate perception is directly the thought 26 Chapter 2 From Henri Bergson by Jankélévitch, Vladimir. 1215/9780822375333 Duke University Press, 2015. All rights reserved. 194 of things, the concept is directly only the thought of another, an artificial and fabricated perception.
It remains no less true that the past imperceptibly qualifies our current being and that it can be evoked at any moment, even if such conservation is simply inferred from the immediate givenness of the recall, even if the past neither literally survives in us nor lies dormant in the unconsciousness of becoming. Is Bergsonian time not this paradoxical latency without either inesse or being-in, without either virtual conservation or virtual reservation? Is Bergsonian time not this non-representable survival in which there isn’t anything that survives or anything in which the surviving past could survive?
Henri Bergson by Vladimir Jankélévitch