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Thinking in Time


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About the Author

Suzanne Guerlac is Professor of French at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Literary Polemics: Bataille, Sartre, Valery, Breton, cowinner of the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies given by the Modern Language Association, and The Impersonal Sublime: Hugo, Baudelaire, Lautreamont, and the Esthetics of the Sublime.


"Guerlac presents a Bergson who is both historical and current, a Bergson who emerged during a period of technological upheaval not unlike our own cybernetic moment... Drawing on Guerlac's formidable expertise in the areas of Continental philosophy, literature, and the history of science, the book is a brilliant and timely introduction to Bergson's thought."-James Meyer, Artforum, December 2006 "Recent years have seen a serious and significant renaissance of interest in Henri Bergson, a key intellectual figure of the first half of the twentieth century. Bergson offers new possibilities for thinking today, and interest in his work is now widespread, being felt across the humanities and social sciences, and even in the sciences. Thinking in Time offers the only reader's guide I know in English to Bergson's two key texts, books that should be placed at the center of a young person's university education and form a key part of the scholar's learning and education. Suzanne Guerlac's style of writing is admirably lucid and succeeds in genuinely instructing the reader in the key ideas and movements of thought at work in Bergson's texts."-Keith Ansell Pearson, University of Warwick, author of Philosophy and the Adventure of the Virtual: Bergson and the Time of Life "Thinking in Time is not only a 'reader's guide' or introduction to Bergson's first major books; it also puts the general philosophy of Bergson in a double historical perspective-the historical context of its writing (then) and the present context of its rediscovery (now). Suzanne Guerlac displays two very different sets of qualities: a minute attention to the texts and a broader capacity to set the frames of a general history of ideas between the turn of the century and the most contemporary poststructural or 'postcontinental' philosophy."-Frederic Worms, Universite Charles-de-Gaulle-Lille 3, author of Bergson ou les deux sens de la vie "Thinking in Time may well become the most widely read book in film studies. Although it was not written specifically for the field, it provides a crucial background for film theory, particularly for the work of Gilles Deleuze. But perhaps more importantly, it elucidates to a remarkable degree the qualities of the medium that fascinate scholars and students of modernism and postmodernism. Suzanne Guerlac's book greatly enriches the context in which the cinema arose by elucidating the complex currents of thought at the turn of the century that gave rise to both Henri Bergson's ideas and the new art form. The correlations between the challenges facing Bergson, due to his rejection of orderly spatial metaphors in favor of a radical concept of time, and those confronting the new time-based medium provide a new context for the consideration of early film history. In a book that will appeal particularly to students of film theory, experimental or modernist film, and the especially cinematic genres of the musical or science fiction, Guerlac conveys her crystal-clear grasp of Bergson's thought with unsurpassed wisdom and passion."-Robin Blaetz, Mount Holyoke College "'To think duration, the irreversible time of becoming,' Bergson wrote, 'requires the breaking of many frames. This remains the difficult task of philosophy today.' In this lucid study of Bergson in his time and ours Suzanne Guerlac performs that very task. Under the aegis of time she displaces matter, intuition, memory, and vitalism of the early twentieth century into the wake of poststructuralism and the dilemmas of nature and culture here and now. This book is a landmark for anyone working in the currents of philosophy, science, and literature. The force and vision of the work will enthuse and inspire every one of its readers."-Tom Conley, Harvard University "Written in a highly readable and lucid style, reminiscent of Bergson himself, Thinking in Time presents a study, both thematic and comprehensive, of Bergson's Time and Free Will and Matter and Memory. Suzanne Guerlac deftly draws out the significance of Bergsonian concepts and examples, weaving her reading through challenging and memorable passages of Bergson's texts. Most important, Guerlac shows not only what was at stake for Bergson in these texts, but also what is at stake for us today in reading Bergson. To read Bergson with Guerlac as one's guide is to be awakened to the dynamic movement of Bergson's thinking of time. Thinking in Time is not only an introduction, it is also an exploration of a different way of doing philosophy."-Alia Al-Saji, McGill University

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