Book ID: CBB530072118

The Helmholtz Curves: Tracing Lost Time (2014)


This book reconstructs the emergence of the phenomenon of "lost time" by engaging with two of the most significant time experts of the nineteenth century: the German physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz and the French writer Marcel Proust. Its starting point is the archival discovery of curve images that Helmholtz produced in the context of pathbreaking experiments on the temporality of the nervous system in 1851. With a "frog drawing machine," Helmholtz established the temporal gap between stimulus and response that has remained a core issue in debates between neuroscientists and philosophers. When naming the recorded phenomena, Helmholtz introduced the term temps perdu, or lost time. Proust had excellent contacts with the biomedical world of late-nineteenth-century Paris, and he was familiar with this term and physiological tracing technologies behind it. Drawing on the machine philosophy of Deleuze, Schmidgen highlights the resemblance between the machinic assemblages and rhizomatic networks within which Helmholtz and Proust pursued their respective projects.

Reviewed By

Review Laura Otis (2016) Review of "The Helmholtz Curves: Tracing Lost Time". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 191-192). unapi

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Hagner, Michael; (1999)
Ecce Cortex: Beiträge zur Geschichte des modernen Gehirns (/isis/citation/CBB000110603/)

Book Schmidgen, Henning; (2009)
Die Helmholtz-Kurven: Auf der Spur der verlorenen Zeit (/isis/citation/CBB001220074/)

Article De Leo, A.; (2008)
Enrico Sereni: Research on the Nervous System of Cephalopods (/isis/citation/CBB000831387/)

Thesis McDonald, Patrick Joseph; (2001)
Epistemology of Experiment and the Physiological Acoustics of Hermann von Helmholtz (/isis/citation/CBB001560590/)

Article Bock, Ortwin; (2013)
Cajal, Golgi, Nansen, Schäfer and the Neuron Doctrine (/isis/citation/CBB001213638/)

Article Wübben, Yvonne; Vöhringer, Margarete; (2009)
Reflexe in Hirnforschung, Kunst und Technik. Einleitende Bemerkungen (/isis/citation/CBB000932088/)

Article Gelfand, Toby; (2000)
Jules Soury, Le Système Nerveux Central (Paris, 1899) (/isis/citation/CBB000111776/)

Article Ueda, Risa; Sugiyama, Shigeo; (2003)
“Nerve Impulse” in the 19th Century---Its Nature and the Method of Research (/isis/citation/CBB000600614/)

Book Fedi, Laurent; Salanskis, Jean-Michel; (2001)
Les philosophies françaises et la science: dialogue avec Kant (/isis/citation/CBB000774827/)

Article Antonello La Vergata; (2019)
Food, Nerves, and Fertility. Variations on the Moral Economy of the Body, 1700–1920 (/isis/citation/CBB469967440/)

Article Berkowitz, Carin; (2006)
Disputed Discovery: Vivisection and Experiment in the 19th Century (/isis/citation/CBB000771702/)

Book Salisbury, Laura; Shail, Andrew; (2010)
Neurology and Modernity: A Cultural History of Nervous Systems, 1800--1950 (/isis/citation/CBB001034355/)

Authors & Contributors
Schmidgen, Henning
Lazar, J. Wayne
John J. Stuhr
Chátal, Alexandr
Wübben, Yvonne
Wade, Nicholas J.
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Science in Context
科学史研究 Kagakusi Kenkyu (History of Science)
Journal of the History of Ideas
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Wallstein Verlag
University of Notre Dame
Palgrave Macmillan
Oxford University Press
ENS Editions
Nervous system
Helmholtz, Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von
Deleuze, Gilles
Bergson, Henri Louis
Sherrington, Charles Scott
Dewey, John
Whitehead, Alfred North
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
18th century
United States
Naples (Italy)
Great Britain

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment