Friday, October 3, 2008

tempus fugitives

If you haven't already read their two current essays, that seek to articulate the complex play of the anxious and oddly hopeful structures of feeling that are currently at large, with multiple senses of tempo and temporality, and uses to which judgement can be put, then I invite and urge you to click through to Aloof from inspiration and Ads without Products talking about and through the times they're feeling and thinking and writing. Brilliantly.

Their essays have me wondering if we are in the midst of a [re]turn to thinking about time? The spatial turn in literary theory that I passed through in the 1990s, which was inculcated in me through postcolonial novels and theory, certainly holds a promising vista out before you. Authors of the Dark Side of the Dream, Bob Hodge and Vijay Mishra in a recent essay “What was postcolonialism?” argue that its moment has passed and that it was ultimately built on the premises of a singular modernity which, with its endless capitalist-based renewals and innovations, invites us to believe that its ruptures and breaks provide ‘posts’ from which the vista of the past can be laid out and tinkered with. They effectively ask: in what ways is ‘colony’ so distinct from the workings of capitalism that there can be a postcolonialism but no postcapitalism? Leigh Dale from U of Queensland has asked if capitalism worked in the grooves that colonialism cut? Is it enough to be postcolonial but ignore or let pass the question of postcapitalism?

I think the stakes in these questions form around temporalities and time more than they do space. Indeed, what are financial derivatives but highly complex temporal forms. How do we come to terms with multiple-speed economies like the one we have in Australia where a mining boom in parts of Western Australia and Queensland, feeding coal and iron ore to China, is funding parts of the national economy while other regions are in recession. How do we think economic and ecological problems together if not through tempos, rhythms, temporalities?

The spatial turn has also been the scopic and visual turn. Yet we feel rhythms, and all our senses measure durations: a smell from childhood that returns, like old sandshoe sweat, returns with measure: two points in time make a basic measure and rhythm. As Aloof writes crisis is the moment in which the times are unsettled and calling for the cure and judgement. Another way to put this is to say that the times can be harmonised – a eurhythmia. Henri Lefebvre writes:

At no moment have the analysis of rhythms and the rhythmanalytical project lost sight of the body. Not the anatomical or functional body, but the body as polyrhythmic and eurhythmic (in the so-called normal state). As such, the living body has (in general) always been present: a constant reference. The theory of rhythms is founded on the experience and knowledge of the body; the concepts derive from this consciousness and this knowledge, simultaneously banal and full of surprises - of the unknown and the misunderstood.

Along with arrhythmia, isorhythmia (the equality of rhythms) completes this repertoire of fundamental concepts. With one reservation: iso- and eu-rhythmia are mutually exclusive. There are few isorhythmias, rhythmic equalities or equivalences, except of a higher order. On the other hand, eurhythmias abound: everytime there is an organism, organisation, life (living bodies).

In this respect, thought could return to the Liebnizian principle apparently abandoned by philosophers, logicians and scientific types. Were there isorhythmia between two temporalities, they would coincide. Equivalence entails identity (and reciprocally, non-identity implies difference); polyrhythmia is composed of diverse rhythms. Eurhythmia (that of the living body, normal and healthy) presupposes the association of different rhythms. In arrhythmia, rhythms break apart, alter and bypass synchronisation (the usual term for designating this phenomena). A pathological situation - agreed! - depending on the case; interventions are made, or should be made, through rhythms, without brutality. (Lefebvre, Rhythmanalysis 2004: 67.)

So, the VP debate promises another Palin performance like the one she gave at the Grand Old Party's convention [see a video montage of the Palinator in debate mode from her run for the Alaskan Governor-ship]. The bail-out bill should get through the lower house and I'm up to my armpits in thesis completion deadline world. Time is running away. Down the street, toward the beach. Jumping ship. Fugiting.

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