Monday, April 21, 2008

Some fragments from Peter Osborne's Politics of time

Psychoanalytic metapsychology offers an account of the temporalization of time for the child by the death drive through primary identification as primary socialization. However, it is indifferent to the variety of temporal forms through which historical experience is constructed for adults through cultural practice - except insofar as they mirror the temporal patterns of unconscious desire. In this respect, psycholanalysis usurps the ancient role of philosophy as a 'practice of death'. In Benjamin, on the other hand, we have the beginnings of an account of the temporalization of history as cultural form. This enables us to concretize our previous depiction of historical time (the temporalization of history by the anticipation of a timeless end, a historical death), in terms of a series of culturally specific representation of ends constituting history in a variety of different ways - as ethics (Levinas), tradition (Gadamer), chronology (historicism) or modernity (Heidegge and Benjamin), respectively. Furthermore, insofar as these forms are themselves the products of historically specific practices, they are possible objects of transformative practice. We are thus able to begin to give a more concrete meaning to the idea of a politics of time. A politics of time is a politics which takes the temporal structures of social practices as the specific objects of its transformative (or preservative) intent. Benjamin's and Heidegger's philosophies are themselves part of their authors' (radically conflicting) politics of time. [XI - XII: bold emphasis added]

'Modernity' and 'postmodernity', 'modernism', 'postmodernism' and 'avant-garde' are categories of historical consciousness which are constructed at the level of the apprehension of history as a whole. More specifically, they are categories of historical totalization in the medium of cultural experience. As such, each involves a distinct form of historical temporalization - a distinctive way of temporalizing 'history' - through which the three dimensions of phenomenological or lived time (past, present and future) are linked together within the dynamic and eccentric uniyt of a single historical view. Associated with such temporalizations are both particular historical epistemologies (defining the temporal forms and limits of knowledge) and particular orientations toward practice, particular politics of time. Modernisn and postmodernism - like conservatism, traditionalism and reaction - are interventions in the field of the politics of time.[IX - bold emphasis added]

Postmodernism, one might say, is the revenge of the philosophical discourse of modernity upon Marixsm for neglecting problems in the philosophy of history. [IX]

Everyday life is lived in the medium of cultural form. Its phenomenological immediacy is the sedimented result of myriad repetitive practices, yet it is constantly open to the randomness of the chance occurrence, the unexpected encounter, the surprising event, as well as to the refiguration of its meanings by more explicit forms of social intervention. The novel is 'a culture of everyday life' [Franco Moretti, Way of the World -p35], as are television and video, the various forms of print journalism and a multiplicity of other, more informal modes of communication. And if, as Bakhtin argued, all literary genres have increasingly been subject to novelization as a process of linguistic familiarization and the creation of a certain semantic open-endedness, so, we might argue, all genres of communication (including the novel) have subsequently been subject to cinematization, the logic of montage and the image, and an intensification of that 'revolution in the hierarchy of times' whereby 'the present becomes the center [sic] of human orientation in time and in the world', which Bakhtin associated with the novel. [197 - bold emphasis added. Bakhtin quotes are from - 'Epic and Novel' from The Dialogic Imagination. p15, 7 & 30]