The Helmholtz Curves: Tracing Lost Time (Forms of Living by Henning Schmidgen

By Henning Schmidgen

This e-book reconstructs the emergence of the phenomenon of "lost time" through enticing with of the main major time specialists of the 19th century: the German physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz and the French author Marcel Proust.

Its start line is the archival discovery of curve pictures that Helmholtz produced within the context of pathbreaking experiments at the temporality of the apprehensive process in 1851. With a "frog drawing machine," Helmholtz proven the temporal hole among stimulus and reaction that has remained a center factor in debates among neuroscientists and philosophers.

When naming the recorded phenomena, Helmholtz brought the time period temps perdu, or misplaced time. Proust had first-class contacts with the biomedical international of late-nineteenth-century Paris, and he used to be conversant in this time period and physiological tracing applied sciences in the back of it. Drawing at the computing device philosophy of Deleuze, Schmidgen highlights the resemblance among the machinic assemblages and rhizomatic networks during which Helmholtz and Proust pursued their respective projects.

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Additional resources for The Helmholtz Curves: Tracing Lost Time (Forms of Living (FUP))

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In addition, the initial title of Proust’s famous novel, A la recherche du temps perdu, made use of scientific terms that were used by the graphical experts of Marey and his school. 39 If we accept this lineage of the expression “temps perdu,” further convergences between the searches for time conducted by Helmholtz and Proust come within our grasp: the importance of photography as a form, the criticism of the performance of human sense organs, and a related project defined against this background, namely the project of building a kind of telescope for the accurate perception of time.

49 It takes as its starting point one thing and attempts to follow this thing, in a Latourian sense, into the spaces of its “construction” as well as into the time of its “translation,” or dissemination. To attain this goal, this book works, at least in part, with high resolutions. It generates and accepts a wealth of detail(s) in its technical, pictorial, and textual sources and their respective translations, transpositions, and transfers that might come as a surprise to at least some of its readers.

Facing the surface, at a very short distance, is a steel stylus, which nonetheless does not touch the cylinder unless the experimenter wishes it to. This stylus is capable of vertical movement; by way of a Curves Regained 37 system of levers, it communicates with the Achilles tendon of a frog’s musculus gastrocnemius conveniently suspended near the cylinder. 29 As with many other images of physiological experimental setups from that time, however, what is missing here (and from the text of the “Second Note”) is a depiction of the energy sources and of the wiring of the various parts of the setup.

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