Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Reclaiming time

As someone interested in history, i am obsessed with the nexus between time, space and culture, as it is within these three dimensions that our lives actually take place. There was a time when fruit was seasonal, time passed according to the rhythms of church bells and even the night was pitch black and often lived as a distinct time zone, often haunted by its own spirits. Moreover people had much shorter lives which could easily fit in to a more rigid pattern. But the increase in life expectancy raises new questions on ageing which often becomes a process people seek to defy. Even ecological threats are often reduced to a 'doomsday clock', which may be reminiscent of millenarian movements in the middle ages but is based on an entirely different understanding of time, something unstoppable but which can be defied, not something divinely set according the rhythm of an enchanted world. We live in an epoch when time, no longer seasonal or dictated by the sacred, is unstoppable. Life becomes a race against time which constantly keeps running out. Space becomes the container for the aspiration to amass as much experiences (often reduced to consumable ones) as possible. Space is also shaped and carved in a way to ensure maximum accumulation for those who live within it, often to the detriment of others who are associated with risk, danger and a threat to our individualized time-line. That is why people are obsessed with borders to ward off disease and instability, while at the same time seeking global experiences which render the world in to a playground for tourist hordes. Still reclaiming time may well be one of the next greatest transformations. Giving everyone a basic income would enable the masses to set up their own pace of time. So would reducing the working week. People would have more time to spend with family and friends. But I suspect that any transformation depends also on redefining time, for other wise even free time will recolonised by capitalist accumulation. It also depends on redefining space, for the risk would be that change will only take place in privileged enclaves to the detriment of the excluded others.

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