THE BLOG
03/29/2012 09:50 am ET Updated May 29, 2012

# Is That All There Is? Recursion

Time lends itself to the language of currents, electricity, weather, non-linear, complex and dynamical systems. Conversion corresponds with thinking in this way, favoring dynamic interrelation over discrete mechanisms in order to describe the experience of time. The mode of being present is like the crest of a wave that functions to expresses the convergence of three interrelated phases. Conversion conveys this dynamic and interrelated unity of the present. If conversion characterizes the unity of different phases, then what informs the distinction between them I will call recursion.

Recursion describes the transition from one phase to the other. Recursion is how conversion always turns together with itself as already having been, again, both different and the same. Like how the past itself was once present, the mode of being present has always and already been. Recursion is how the mode of being present "runs-back" upon itself in order to be experienced again, with conversion, in the mode of being past. Recursion is how now becomes now-again.

In a previous post, I mentioned how experience in the mode of being past (recursion) is distinct from memories. I think this is important to keep in mind. Now, you can remember reading about the difference, or not. Either way, there exists a mode of accessing the past before any distinction thereof can be verified. Every moment always is and already was open to the past, as the condition on having a memory in the first place.

Recursion is the experience of reaching into the past, prior to when grasping and forming a memory is possible. Memories refer to events in the past, however, they occur in the mode of being present. Recursion does not simply refer to events in the past; instead, it is the way I experience the mode of being past. Recursion antecedes any determinate thought about it -- it is just always and already there. This is difficult to describe because, phenomenologically, there is practically nothing "there" to indicate for direct demonstration.

Phenomenologically, the mode of being past is so radically different from what is otherwise present, that nothing really approximates its proper description. Recursion is like the instant just before you actually remember something. It is like the feeling of déjà-vu: a horizon of alreadyness and vertiginous moment just on the cusp of recognition. Complicating things, this indeterminate way of experiencing the past is diametrically opposed to the way we conceive of it as being entirely determined and/or determining. Recent discoveries in sciences like physics, however, make these phenomenological claims seem less untenably outlandish, I think.

Recursion allows conversion to run back through the past and return again to the present. It is this transition from present to past, back and forth, that I think primarily constitutes recursion. The problem is explaining how this is possible? See: recursion.