Change and Transformations
DOI link for Change and Transformations
Change and Transformations book
Let us now turn to the archaeological description of change. Whatever theoretical criticisms one can make of the traditional history of ideas, it does at least take as its essential theme the phenomena of temporal succession and sequence, analyses them in accordance with schemata of evolution, and thus describes the historical deployment of discourses. Archaeology, however, seems to treat history only to freeze it. On the one hand, by describing discursive formations, it ignores the temporal relations that may be manifested in them; it seeks general rules that will be uniformly valid, in the same way, and at every point in time: does it not, therefore, impose the constricting ﬁgure of a synchrony on a development that may be slow and imperceptible? In this ‘world of ideas’, which is in itself so untrustworthy, in which apparently the most stable ﬁgures disappear so quickly, but in which so many irregularities occur that are later accorded deﬁnitive status, in which the future always anticipates itself, whereas the past is constantly shifting, is not archaeology valid as a sort of motionless thought? And, on the other hand, when it does have recourse to chronology, it is only, it seems, in order to ﬁx, at the limits of the positivities, two pinpoints: the moment at which they are born and the moment at which they
disappear, as if duration was used only to ﬁx this crude calendar, and was omitted throughout the analysis itself; as if time existed only in the vacant moment of rupture, in that white, paradoxically atemporal crack in which one sudden formulation replaces another. Whether as a synchrony of positivities, or as an instantaneity of substitutions, time is avoided, and with it the possibility of a historical description disappears. Discourse is snatched from the law of development and established in a discontinuous atemporality. It is immobilized in fragments: precarious splinters of eternity. But there is nothing one can do about it: several eternities succeeding one another, a play of ﬁxed images disappearing in turn, do not constitute either movement, time, or history.