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Paolo Virno on Déjà Vu and the End of History


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Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin (2013), film still.

The February issue of e-flux journal has just been published. It includes an excerpt from Paolo Virno’s newly translated book Déjà Vu and the End of History, released by Verso this month.

The feeling of déjà vu, awakened by “false recognition,” leads us to believe that even if we are faced with continuous change, everything is the same, everything is repeating itself. It goes without saying, however, that there would be no “false recognition” if it were not for “the memory of the present.” Only where the virtual is in full flower right next to the actual could we ever illusorily confuse it for something that we have experienced already. The real anachronism makes use of materials that the formal anachronism puts at its disposal: and nothing else beyond them. As such, it uses its opposite as its own lever. But since “false recognition” conceals the genesis of historical time, the genesis that the “memory of the present,” conversely, reveals and displays, to state that the former presupposes the latter has a consequence of some significance (here accorded the value of a “thesis”). Namely: the “end of history” is an idea, or state of mind, that arises precisely when the very condition of possibility of history comes into view; when the root of all historical activity is cast out onto the surface of historical becoming, and is evident as a phenomenon; when the historicity of experience is itself also manifested historically.

Read the full excerpt here.