As the body carries with it imprints of previous actions, so it leaves its own movements in the places in which those actions occurred. This is a retroactive gesture of stretching, a desire thwarted by movement and distance. Often the desire is concealed, made aware only as a hum of disturbance, and fully exposed as a chance encounter between the environment and self. In this way, the world becomes impregnated with the traces of the body, discarded and forgotten moments of want and pleasure. The bringing back of the world—the spitting into a river—carries with it a sedimented consistency. The river and its bridge, then taken as a nocturnal image, re-appear, only now as an iron-rail overlooking the ocean, with a grey sky above, and ships on the horizon.
The history of the body: a history of partly assimilated events, centralised points of fixation, and a gradual formation of self-estrangement, all mapped out by the intentionality of desire. Symptoms of a lack of resolution, no doubt caused by the underground surging of history, force the body to retreat: “Existence is tied up,” writes Merleau-Ponty, “and the body has become ‘the place where life hides away’” (Merleau-Ponty, p. 190). There is no opening here, only the accidental recovery of an event seized from oblivion.
It is perhaps only by accident and lack do we discover the unity of motion, since interrupted by time. The body's failure is also its emergence. What is to say that we occupy the same body which took us into a particular place? Yet things persist. The total body is not left behind, but brings particles into the present. Fragmentation, Lacan’s “le corps morcelé”: the body of parts: body-parts, the wounded body. An agency, so far unregistered in the present, enters the body, giving a certain tautness to its movements. But the tautness is not solely physical, but rather breaks the continuity of habit. A force enters, mutating the limits of familiarity. Habit memory, so innocuous to Bergson, precisely because of its immanence, becomes the site of rupture, as imbued with fervent desire as it is with loss.