Fabulous stuff from Charles Peguy (from Clio, in quotes within the block quote below), unearthed by Deleuze and Guattari (from What is Philosophy?, p. 111). What we should do, D&G say, is to reassemble the event, install ourselves in it as a becoming,
becoming young again and aging in it, both at the same time, going through all its components or singularities. It may be that nothing changes or seems to change in history, but everything changes, and we change, in the event: “There was nothing. Then a problem to which we saw no end, a problem without solution…suddenly no longer exists and we wonder what we were talking about”; it has gone into other problems; “there was nothing and [then all of a sudden] one is in a new people, in a new world, in a new man.”
A good reminder that whatever it is that we are currently within and believe to be permanent (capitalism, the State, the iPad) is not permanent. The things we currently can’t imagine the world without can become obsolete, or better, will become obsolete. In the past the VCR was central to our entertainment. Now we have to explain to children what we used it for. The iPad is transforming our life, integrating itself into the fibers of our being, making itself indispensable. Maybe, but only for a moment. The iPad will be a relic in 5 years. Apple is already feverishly developing the next thing we don’t need, because Apple will die (and very quickly) if it does not continually sell devices.
Of course we can think this way about the State too. It seems impossible to live without it. But it is not impossible. The modern State is longer-lived than the iPad, but it was born. And it will die. Or better, we will busy ourselves with developing other forms of political community, other forms of life, that will eventually render the modern State obsolete. The same goes for capitalism.
Neither is eternal, neither is in any way necessary. They are temporary, contingent. They will fade away into memory. I just hope I don’t die before I get the opportunity to explain to kids what we used them for.