Christopher Clifton


The notion of a total was the guide for a preliminary account of the unlimited endebtment. Not that is in terms of an objective to arrive at, for the notion was the notion not of something that may ever be arrived at, nor to even be imagined as a thing to be accounted; but rather was the notion of the manner to relate to single figures and between them. The universe was not as such the figure of a total, but a figure to record as but another mere example to give thanks for. It did not equate to 1079 atoms, nor to 100 000 000 000 galaxies, which were figures to record beside the figure of the milky way at such or such a time, from such an angle, which was not to be reduced to such a figure as 400 000 000 000 stars – but set beside it. The account was not arrived at by the means of an addition or subtraction or division of a quantity of figures of that owed, but was a process of arriving at such figures of account to be recorded as unique approximations, without order to adhere to. Thus the sun behind the clouds did not equate to its description on a page of the account book, nor the hand that wrote the figure, nor the single drop of water that had dried and left a mark between the eye that saw the figure and that hand, which did not in turn reduce to the occurrence of the storm, nor to the spectacles through which it was avoided; and neither could that image of the sun have any precedence to anything that came to be beneath it, but was merely one more debt beside the others. The total was impossible to reach, but helped to guide this calculation, in the sense that there was always something else to take account of. However it was still to be determined how the notion of the total corresponded to the notion that there was a debt to start with, and to how it was that figures were related. It was here that came the question of the contract.

That there had to be a contract was a matter of conjecture. But according to the notion of the contract this conjecture had been given by the same, and so was proof of the existence of the contract. There appeared to be no argument to counter this conclusion; thus the only thing to do was to begin with a construction of the terms, as an attempt to understand the operations of the contract. For accepting that the contract was and would therefore determine its construction, it would follow that the way in which construction came about would be a way to watch the workings of the contract. For example, that the sun is not the moon, but that the being of the sun is not in conflict with the being of the moon, suggests that both of them are held in some harmonious relation. Yet the manner of being held is not reducible to anything besides the sun and moon, which are in harmony with every other thing that is beside them. For the sun is and the moon is irreducibly to each, and irreducibly to every other object. But one manner to perceive the so-called contract that connects these things is given for example when the being of the sun beside the being of the moon, in the circumference of a circle that is greater than the circle of the moon, becomes the centre of the orbit of another point of view that is discovered at the centre of the circle of the moon, by which the being of the sun beside the being of the moon becomes another in conjunction with another kind of moon – and with another kind of human. Not however that the first or second image is the image of the contract; but the sudden alteration from the one into the other may be understood to signify what cannot be perceived as such directly, but is presently conceived of as the endless operation of the contract.

ccChristopher Clifton lives in Australia. His treatise Of the contract is forthcoming from Punctum Books. These texts are taken from his novel Interpretations of the contract, which will appear through Called Back Books.