The Coronavirus pandemic has thrown many of us into a state of disorientation, laden with uncertainties. Crossing vastly different temporal scales, our concerns range from our own immediate survival to existential questions raised by illness and death at planetary scales; from the impact that shutdowns and imminent global recession have on a personal level to the possibly longterm implications of the current reduction of CO2 emissions for planet Earth.

The Bureau of Linguistical Reality defines Shadow Time as “a parallel timescale that follows one around throughout day-to-day experience of regular time”; or “acute consciousness of the possibility that the near future will be drastically different than the present.”

As the urgent and fast-moving crisis of this pandemic intersects with the also urgent but much slower-moving crisis of climate change, will the human experience of Shadow Time contribute to a more time-literate society? Will we humans be capable of expanding our temporal sensibilities to embrace a more poly-temporal worldview? Will we be able to deeply understand and mentally inhabit the geologic time scales at which our own human activities and actions are operating today?

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Compiled by Cristina Parreño Alonso
9 Essays

Can we resurrect the people who have not been born yet, but who nevertheless died prematurely due to environmental devastation, hunger, racism, and inequality? Perhaps by learning from Fedorov to think about time as a landscape—one that we shape in the same way that we shape the earth’s surface—we can develop a framework for thinking some of our most urgent crises.

Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes. But I warn you, if you don’t tell me that this means war, if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by that Antichrist—I really believe he is Antichrist—I will have nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend, no longer my “faithful slave,” as you call yourself! —Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace 1 Both the history of the present and psychoanalysis teach us that at…
Art is the distinctive countermovement to nihilism. —Martin Heidegger 1 In the late 1970s Aldo Rossi wrote: “Now it seems to me that everything has already been seen; when I design I repeat, and in the observation of things there is also the observation of memory . ” 2 If, for Rossi, architecture that comes from the typological reorganization of forms can only produce memories, then these memories are associated with the condition of a continuous awareness of the…
To ask a human being to account for time is not very different from asking a floating fragment of plankton to account for the ocean. How does the plankton bank the ocean? What is time? What is the time? The time is of your choosing. The time is not of your choosing. The time is out of joint. The time has come. The time needs changing. The time has gone. The time has come and gone. The time has flown. The time is not convenient. The time is at hand. The time has…
A painting by Klee called Angelus Novus depicts an angel moving backwards, away from something which he is staring at. His eyes are opened wide, his mouth stands open and his wings are outstretched. This is how the Angel of History must look. His face is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet. He would like to pause for a moment to awaken the…
Game Over
Franco “Bifo” Berardi

Environmental collapse, global civil war, nuclear proliferation, and epidemics of panic and depression are steps towards extinction. But this is not the end of the world, since abstraction has created a world of its own, subsuming social language and prescribing the social forms of interaction.

In 1796, upon observing a vast array of elephant fossils, paleontologist George Cuvier noticed a puzzling fact: the fossilized mammoths of Europe and Siberia were different from living elephant species. None of the specimens in his collection corresponded to present-day African or Indian exemplars; they were all remains of fauna now extinct. At length, it dawned on him that another world might have preceded our own, a world whose existence had suddenly come to a halt, possibly “destroyed by…

“Life” in the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is defined as that which can be killed or which dies. It is also a measure of time, for however long we are alive is a life. Many human lives have been and are considered disposable, surplus, or without value, so the movement speaks of each life as mattering. When black life matters, time itself is altered, creating revolutionary time. These temporalities have become entangled with the crisis of earth-system time known as the Anthropocene. That time, known to geologists as “deep time,” is in crisis. And it’s a good thing too, because out of that crisis has reemerged the possibility of revolutionary time. No one has been more aware of this dynamic than the anti-black reactionary right. To be for revolutionary time, whatever one’s own personal history, is to be for anti-anti-blackness as the condition of transformative possibility.

“[Paul Gsell:] ‘Well, then, when in the interpretation of movement he [the artist] completely contradicts photography, which is an unimpeachable mechanical testimony, he evidently alters truth.’ ‘No,’ replied Rodin, ‘it is the artist who is truthful and it is photography which lies, for in reality time does not stop, and if the artist succeeds in producing the impression of a movement which takes several moments for accomplishment, his work is certainly much less conventional than the…

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