Monday, November 29, 2010

The Conspiracy of Time

Time is a product of the mechanical clock, originally designed to coordinate the behavior of medieval monks and later coopted by capitalists to coordinate the behavior of factory wage-slaves.

Time is a mechanical abstraction.  Time is not an experiential quality for humans.  We are not psychologically equipped to organize our experience according to the arbitrary units of clock-time.  We don’t experience minutes or hours or days of the week.  Two o’clock is no different from three o’clock.  Outside of an externally imposed regimen and routine, there is nothing about a Tuesday that makes it any different from a Sunday.  Life as it is actually experienced consists of events; events possess the subjective quality of duration.  Duration is not quantifiable in terms of seconds or minutes or hours.  A year’s absence can seem like a day.  An evening can last a lifetime.

The machine, however, requires the strict coordination of all of its elemental functions, and so we are coerced into partitioning our daily activity according to arbitrary slices of clock-time and compelled to subordinate our mental and physical needs—needs that fluctuate according to their own organic tempo—to its regular, relentless, soul-draining pace.

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