50th Anniversary of the Centre for Comparative Literature 1969-2019 - Timepieces
What is time? How do we think about it? These timeless questions haunt us still.
From Aristotle’s unities of time and space, to Einstein’s theory of space-time dichotomy, to Bergson’s duration, the issue of temporal representation has raised questions about chronology/chronometry and conceptions of time as cyclical, linear, or multi-directional. Literature and other artistic media, such as music, theatre, film, photography, and visual arts have revolved around the paradoxical task of representing time’s passage, stasis, duration, embodiment, fragmentation, and distortion. Recently, diverse time-space epistemologies such as those founded in Indigenous cultures and questions of the digital, the postcolonial, memory, remediation of ephemera, ecology, and gender have opened up new perspectives on temporality.
Attempts at temporal unification for cultural, economic and political reasons mark human history. Postcolonial time has often been considered an alternative temporality in opposition to Western forms of temporal homogenization (standard time, clock time, imperial time). However, can the postcolonial “other” encourage a perspectival definition of time while simultaneously helping to reconsider the alleged incommensurability between the time of the “other” and “Western temporality”?¹
Time is also intrinsically linked to questions of cultural and personal memory and trauma. Acts of remembrance (re)enact the past in the present, and the imagination projects past and present into the future. By remembering and forgetting, witnessing and enacting, subjectivation and self-formation are mediated through time. What are the ethical implications of shaping the self through memory? Can time heal? Moreover, how does the multi-directionality of memory complicate linear and progressive understandings of time?