another time, perhaps

What is consciousness but language? asks Gilles Deleuze, in a work concerned with another question, What is language?

Language is a sign-signal system, according to Deleuze, which wouldn’t mean very much until we remember that signs are assemblages. They are independent networks of disparate entities, which work under the sign of being and being elements. Signs are constructed. The work that they do is signalling.

Signs signal in series. But does language have this sense of continuity and flow, of ceaseless series, sign-signal to sign-signal, because the passage from sign to signal occurs within time, in the present, or is it language which precedes this sense of time?

The problem I am adducing to is the following:

The mephistophelian character, Andreas Corelli, in Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s very enjoyable book, The Angel’s Game, has this to say about what fables teach us:

They teach us that human beings learn and absorb ideas and concepts through narrative, through stories, not through lessons or theoretical speeches. This is what any of the great religious texts teach us. They’re all tales about characters who must confront life and overcome obstacles, figures setting off on a journey of spiritual enrichment through exploits and revelations. All holy books are, above all, great stories whose plots deal with the basic aspects of human nature, setting them within a particular moral context and a particular framework of supernatural dogmas.

Zafón, Carlos Ruiz, The Angel’s Game, trans. Lucia Graves, Text Publishing, Melbourne, 2009, p. 192

Stories give the natural impression of passing from one thing to the next. They make it appear natural for God to have created mud and from mud formed Eve and her sister. Narration naturalises what fables do, which is fabulate. But isn’t the most fabulous idea that human beings have absorbed through stories the concept on which narrative and language itself relies, rests and lies: time? And isn’t consciousness part of the fabric of this story, this history?

What happens if the link is broken between sign and signal? What happens where there is no next or and then? where the link, the nature of which was always a fabrication, is denaturalised?