Other Times

Time sticks.
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In another temporality, what we call the fin de siècle, young Gikuyu men and women understood themselves as the Kienjeku (sores) and Gatego (syphilis) generations. Kienjeku preceded Gatego by a year or so. During the Gatego year, only women were initiated.
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Athomi (readers) were never an “official” generation. Time had split—expanding from seasons, contracting from generations.
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Time sticks.
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The stickiness of time makes it difficult to name end(ing)s.

A year.

A decade.

Other temporalities do not yield as easily to calculation.
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i have loved you assiduously for 8 months 2 wks & a day—Ntozake Shange
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When was the post-colonial?
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These fragments I have shored against my ruins—T.S. Eliot
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On the year my skin changed, I started using draino
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Doctor Who worries about time collapsing, imagining that such collapse marks “the end of time.” Time is nothing but collapse. Something intersects with something else. A decade meets a year, a year an era, an era a second.

And everything changes.
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Doctor Who keeps promising that “everything” will change. It worries about change. It worries about order. It worries more about sameness. Keeping time “safe,” by which it means “herded in,” as though its strategic multiculturalism were somehow inevitable.

History unfolds in Doctor Who.

But time bends. Or perhaps refracts.
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I announced to my students that temporality “remains” “to be thought.” This task can never be in the past tense. And not simply because we are “timed” and “timely” objects.

We have been “neo” far longer than not.

Time sticks.
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A more coherent narrative.

As 2010 “ends,” friends, acquaintances, journalists, and historians are “mapping” the past decade, recording achievements, failures, placing names to faces.

Will it be the Bush or Obama decade? Mainstream Press or the Glenn Greenwald Decade? Janet Jackson (nipplegate) or Michael Jackson (death)? History or Truthiness? Slow Food or Fast Diet? Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh? (feel free to add to the list)

I find myself late, as usual. Wondering what I missed while I was catching up with what would not let me go. Stickiness. Wondering about the necessary price of being Lot’s wife. Some of us must remain salty. And stuck. Some “present-ness” remains to flavor history.
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Gatego. Kienjeku.

I return to these generational names, bestowed upon initiation, a naming of precarious futurity.

Isn’t all futurity precarious?
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History is this they may I say add leave that.—Gertrude Stein
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Time is not history. But we often act as though it is. We cannot inhabit the “longness” of now—extension and desire, what Freud terms “interminable.”

Cut.

The wisdom of circumcision.

Time cuts.
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Another narrative.

The minutes gathered into hours, but still she sat motionless, a disdainful smile or an angry frown passing now and then across her face. Somewhere in the room a little clock ticked time away. Somewhere outside, a whippoorwill wailed. Evening died. A sweet smell of early Southern flowers rushed in on a newly-risen breeze which suddenly parted the thin silk curtains at the opened windows. A slender, frail glass case fell from the sill with a tingling crash, but Helga Crane did not shift her position. And the night grew cooler and cooler—Nella Larsen, Quicksand

I am stuck at this passage—I have attempted to think about it critically in forthcoming work. I remain stuck. Time sticks to Helga Crane as it passes by. It gathers. It clusters. It becomes claustrophobic. Cloying. She sits still. Stillness is about stickiness. Time stills.
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Two Korogas: “Erosion” and “Being
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Time sticks and its stickiness also sticks. One tracks through time’s stickiness. One has to be careful to understand the tracks within tracks—what it means to “track” time as one “tracks” dirt “through” time.

How does one think through time’s “accumulations,” its simultaneous sedimentations. Where Gatego has the same “density” as fin de siècle.
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To think through time requires misusing grammar.

This time “which is not one.”
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I have lost certain ways of “measuring” time.
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Friends know that I collect cheap clocks—under $5. Cost matters because I also discard these clocks once they hit a “critical mass,” once, that is, “time accumulates.” A too-literal practice of living.

I am fascinated by how clocks gain and lose time, though they all begin from the same point, more or less. How does this happen? Beyond the rational explanations of programming and mechanics, there might be a lesson to this. Time moves “independently” of us.

It is possible we need it, but it does not need us.

Time, Nietzsche teaches, is about “use.”
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As the year “ends,” and I would prefer to use the term “dies”—much more resonant in Gikuyu—I “dwell” on what remains suspended and prolonged, unresolved and in solution. Beginning letters yet to form into words and sentences and paragraphs and (maybe) sense. “Tentatives” yet to become gestures and touches, pressures and pushes.
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Nascent and fossilized intimacies—and those “not yet.”

One thought on “Other Times

  1. a more-than-brilliant meditation on time & timeliness. like trying to remember how to spell one’s name. careful. yes, care.

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