International Society for the Study of Time  

Abstracts for the 2019 Conference on "Time in Variance", at Los Angeles

June 23-29, 2019


"Out of Plato's Cave"

Steve Ostovich

Some of you will recognize the title of this proposed paper as "borrowed" from an essay by J. T. Fraser in his book Time and Time Again, and a complete title for this proposal would be "Out of Plato's Cave with J. T. Fraser as Our Guide." The conference theme, "Time's Variance," makes this meeting of the ISST an occasion for revisiting the work of Fraser, the ISST's co-founder. The complexity of time is central to Fraser's evolutionary theory of time's conflicts and should be much in evidence in individual conference presentations and in the variety of themes they will address. This paper proposes turning to Fraser's work to think about this complexity. A brief overview highlighting relevant aspect of Fraser's understanding of time will lead to drawing out some implications of his theory for working through complexity critically.


Under the influence of a Platonic tradition for which truth is outside time, we try to reduce complexity by abstracting towards a supposedly higher level of simplicity, clarity and control. Fraser, however, inverts this model: "[t]he least significant aspects [of reality]—the electric charge on the proton, the speed of light—are eternal, are timeless," while "[t]he most sublime aspects of the human world—love, beauty, knowledge, our lives—are temporal, are passing" (Time and Time Again, 13). As in the evolutionary biology of Joseph Needham, for Fraser "higher" with regard to time really means more complex.


The argument made here is that our thinking in response to complexity must be multidisciplinary (rather than simply integrative), critically negative (rather than idealistic), discursive (rather than systematic), and humble. Models for this kind of criticism can be found in sources as widely divergent as the Hebrew Scriptures and the critical theory of Theodor Adorno.

The Texture of Time, c. 1900 to c.2000

Stephen Kern

A number of years ago I surveyed changing ideas about time over a period of forty years around 1900. I am currently making a similar survey of forty years, but a hundred years later, around the year 2000. I am using the same subtopics, which are universals that nevertheless have distinctly historical modes. This comparative study makes possible an interpretation and explanation of how ideas about and experiences of time changed over this past century, mediated by a number of cultural developments in science, philosophy, and the arts as shaped by new transportation and communication technologies. One of those subtopics is the texture of time, my talk’s subject.

In the earlier period James and Bergson insisted on the fluid nature of time as a stream. It was captured in Marey’s serial photographs, Futurist paintings, early cinema, and the novels of Proust and Woolf. In the later period the dominance of field theory and the metaphor of time as a stream were replaced by chaos theory and the metaphor of a butterfly’s wings. In the 1980s chaos theory came into greater use facilitated by computers that could track approximate orders out of complex phenomena: molecular behavior, blood circulation, nerve circuitry, brain activity, epidemic transmission, weather patterns, and other non-linear complex systems. Thinking about the texture of time also was shaped by several new communication technologies: the internet (1980s), World Wide Web (1990s), and search engines (2000s). Studies of literary critics, technology experts, and the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and Michel Serres reveal how new technologies expanded thinking about the texture of time as variously arhythmic, disrupted, overlapping, schizophrenic, layered, nested, folded, vibrating, and turbulent as well as paired contrasts of compressed or expanded, flexible or monotonous, and flattened or thickened. These historical modalities are the main subject of my talk that culminates with a discussion of the textures of time in Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler . . .

Time Variances in Works of Borges and Cortázar

Luis Arata


This presentation examines how different timescales interact in the fiction of Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar, arguably the two most distinguished Argentine writers of the 20th century.

Time was always paradoxical for Borges. In “The Secret Miracle,” the protagonist about to be executed by a firing squad asks in his mind for one last wish: to complete a play he was writing. As the order to fire is given, time comes to a standstill, except in his thoughts. Unable to move, he works on the play until it is done. At that moment, linear time resumes and the bullets find their target. Two timescales coexist, one nestled in the other. In “The Aleph,” universal time is compressed into a small sphere tucked away in a dark corner of a basement. In essays ranging from “Circular Time” to “New Refutation of Time,” Borges explores models of time that alter invariant chronologies, from eternities to the ephemeral.

In Hopscotch, Cortázar takes a structural approach to temporality. He proposes two readings of the novel. One is linear. The other intersperses chapters from a section called “Expendable Chapters,” omitted in the chronological reading. This skipping among chapters leads to a final, neverending sequence: a loop within the novel, a timeless state that the protagonist longed for and accidentally achieves.

In I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self, Rodolfo Llinás, NYU neuroscientist, explains that the brain models the environment to form dynamic maps that mobile creatures, like us, use to enable desired actions. Llinás concludes that in wake life we act as if in dreams guided by our senses. This presentation reflects on how models of time in Borges and Cortázar may apply to our lives as well.

Kinds of Time in the Odyssey and Joyce’s Ulysses

(Stephanie Nelson)

Homer’s Odysseus faces an extraordinary choice and makes an extraordinary decision. Although, for Homer, mortality is the defining aspect of human life, Odysseus is given the option of becoming immortal and unaging, essentially stepping outside of time. And although the fundamental aim of the Homeric hero is immortality, usually achieved through the only means available, kleos or “fame,” Odysseus chooses instead to return to Ithaca, mortality, and the world of ordinary time.

Homer, moreover, links Odysseus’ return to a general epic distinction between mythic or legendary time and the ordinary, human time of the poet. In so doing he has Odysseus not only break through what should be an absolute separation, he also has him do it in the wrong direction, battling his way not, as Thucydides puts it (1.21), from ordinary time into myth, but rather from myth back into the ordinary ever-changing world of Ithaca.

Joyce’s Ulysses also plays with disjunct forms of time, here the Modernist distinction between outer, mechanical, clocktime and Bergson’s durée, time as it is experienced internally. The distinction, however, is established only to be dissolved, as the radical narrative styles of Ulysses’ second half take over. The dissolve is also far more Homeric than it might seem. Although Odysseus may find human meaning by escaping from mythic into ordinary time, for the audience he does so only by fixing his story in song. Similarly, as the aberrant narrative styles of Ulysses dissolve the distinction between time as measured by clocks and time as it is experienced, the reader is forced to both feel with the novel’s characters and to recognize them as merely interweavings of words. As with Odysseus and the Odyssey, we both do and do not share their time, and even more strikingly, we can share it exactly because it is also alien to us.


Metric and Variation: The Tempo of Poetry, the Poetry of Time

(Frederick Turner)


The tragic conflict between temporalities, this paper argues, is the necessary condition of emergence on the physicochemical, biological, social, and nootemporal levels. The arts both express and embody such conflicts, making them explicit and making us at home in them. Theme and variation is a familiar feature of music; less well known is meter and variation in poetic form. This paper explains the cultural universality of the three-second line in human poetry, and the various metrical forms—stress, syllable-count, the foot, rhyme, and stanza—that constitute and situate a line. It describes some permissible ways in which English language metered poetry can violate the formal stress pattern of a line, and the extraordinarily subtle uses of those variations. It sketches what is known about the neurophysiology and functional workings of human meter, its social uses, and its relationship with storytelling and the mythic construction of the human umwelt. Using illustrations from major poetry old and new, it presents a model for the emergence of meaning and new concepts out of the poet’s struggle with the physical constraints of sound and rhythmic coherence, the linguistic constraints of grammar and lexicon, the cognitive constraints of logic and trope, and the spiritual constraints of truth, beauty, and goodness. This model may apply, with not many changes, to other fields, such as scientific discovery, legislation, technological innovation, and personal decision-making.


Time, Large and Small, in the Indic Cosmos

(Christopher Chapple)


The essential moment of time, the ṛtu or bindu or kṣaṇa, contains the cosmos. By understanding the flow of time, one gains self-understanding, including the relationship of one’s personal narrative to the past, over many life times, and the future, which both collapse into the present in rarefied states of awareness known as samādhi.


In the Bhagavad Gῑtā, the warrior Arjuna becomes trapped in a moment of despair and depression, reaching to Krishna, his preceptor for a lifeline. Krishna explains that all time resides in the shifting of three factors of existence, guṇas, roiling a person through cycles of delight, disgust, and despair (SK 12). In the eleventh chapter of the Gῑtā a moment of cosmic collapse and explosion happen simultaneously as Arjuna becomes cast into a psychosis, a vision of Krishna’s totality that rocks and displaces the foundations of his sense of self, clearing the decks, as it were, for a re-entry into the present moment.


The Yugas and Kalpas move into a discussion of the largeness of time. Kalpas, counted in the hundreds of thousands and millions of years, constellate around four eras, from the difficult time of the current Kali Yuga toward a period of noble truth or Satya Yuga. According to the musicologist Ernest McClain, these numbers iterate musical intervals and connect with the root syllables that mark the passage of time, bringing a mantra chanter from a place of intimacy and smallness to the great expanse into timelessness.

Die Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar Ding’: Music and the Problem of Temporal Representation in Der Rosenkavalier

(Benedict Taylor)

Der Rosenkavalier is an opera which foregrounds time – the problem of time, as transience, passing, and ultimately death for the aging Marschallin, and also contrasts this with a potentially more redemptive quality, the category of the Augenblick, the intersection of the temporal with the eternal, seen in the young lovers Octavian and Sophie. Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s text bears close comparison with another major work from this period, which similarly foregrounds the concept of time, Thomas Mann’s Der Zauberberg. In this self-styled ‘novel of time’, Mann raises a number of problems concerning the human limitations on perceiving time and its artistic representation, especially with regard to music. ‘Can music narrate time?’ pondered Mann. His rather precipitous answer came in the negative; and in this, he was not alone. Some 80 years earlier, Søren Kierkegaard’s alter ego ‘A’, in his famous discussion of Mozart’s Don Giovanni from Either/Or, would similarly claim that what music, that ‘most temporal of the arts’, cannot express is ‘the historical in time’. This is, believes ‘A’, owing to music’s unchallenged immediacy. Music does not seem able to detach itself from and denote another time apart from that of its presentation. But such a view, while evidently popular, is open to dispute.

As Richard Strauss’s setting of Hofmannsthal’s text for Rosenkavalier demonstrates, music’s potential layering of different historical styles may suggest a thickness and richness of temporal implications that go well beyond the apparent immediacy which is seemingly both its strength and its failing. Strauss’s music in fact provides an ideal exemplification of music’s capacity to ‘narrate time’ and express ‘the historical in time’. This paper investigates music’s ability to signify or denote diverse time senses and narrative temporalities, using the example of Strauss as a case study for addressing this philosophical problem in temporal representation.

Related Conference Themes:

  • Variations in narrative temporalities

  • Artistic representations of time in variance and/or of time’s invariance

  • The Eternal and the temporal


Variance of stasis in George Benjamin’s ‘Sudden Time’

(Martin Scheuregger)


This paper examines the types of stasis used in the 1993 orchestral work Sudden Time by British composer George Benjamin (b. 1960). The work draws on the composer’s experience of hearing a thunderclap whilst dreaming, which ‘seemed to stretch to at least a minute’s duration before suddenly circulating, as if in a spiral, through my head’ (Benjamin, 1993). However, this is more than a depiction of a sonic event in slow motion. In Sudden Time, Benjamin plays with time itself, using a multiplicity of approaches to shape musical materials and our perceptions of the result: in this context, stasis is seen as related primarily to the perception of time rather than movement.

This paper focusses on moments of stasis in this work, exploring how they may be perceived in the context of established interpretations of musical time. Conceptions of temporality from spectral composers are brought together with ideas from Rowell, Epstein, Clarke and others to understand how notions of time and movement can be applied to stasis. Different types of stasis will be identified: at one extreme it comes about when a lack of change in harmony, rhythm and timbre appear to prevent motion; at the other, equilibrium is generated through material which is constantly changing but functionally and perceptually static. Each extreme may be considered an example of Epstein’s ‘un-differentiated time’ (1979).

This variance in approach demonstrates that even stasis – a condition of time that we may assume can only be presented in one manner – can be conceived and perceived in multiple ways. A model for understanding stasis as an example of time in variance will be proposed that may be generalised to Benjamin’s work more widely, other music and even in unrelated fields of enquiry.

Resurrection in 21st Century Popular Culture; or, Why the Living Dead Don’t Only Live Twice

(John Hunter)

The specific form of time in variance that this paper analyzes is the act of resurrection as it is represented in contemporary popular culture. 21st century cinema contains a virtual epidemic of reboots and resurrections: from James Bond to Jason Bourne to Spider Man, Batman, and The Walking Dead, entire franchises, as well as many specific films (such as Get Out and The Shape of Water) depict and/or thematize different versions of coming back from the dead. The goal of this paper is to analyze the intensification and multiplication of this phenomenon over the past two decades. Its thesis is that this cinema of resurrection represents the past not as a predictable cause for current events, but rather as a series of reanimations in which prior states of present experience are depicted as both necessary precursors and as incomprehensible, often hostile Others.

The paper will prove this thesis by analyzing how the resurrections and renewals in these films create multiple temporal contexts that operate simultaneously; these returns to life disrupt the normal temporal flows of their narrative setting and serve to put the passing of time and our relationship with it into question. They thus also mark discontinuities in history – the dead return so that we can either try to escape our past or (more often) learn that we cannot escape or successfully repress it. Building on the work of scholars of time in cinema such as Garrett Stewart, Alanna Thain, and Todd McGowan, this paper uses many specific examples from popular 21st century films to show how these resurrections and reboots signify our alienation from the past – because we do not wish to imagine our present moment as a product of the past or a foretaste of the future, our popular films represent discontinuous, multiple temporalities that only cohere to show how lost we are. In the end, even James Bond is represented as a zombie.



William Kentridge. The Refusal of Time

(Johanna Stark)


William Kentridge’s installation “The Refusal of Time,first shown at the documenta 13 (2012) in Kassel at the railway station, has been travelling through the world successfully and is now reaching its finale in New York and San Francisco. As a collaboration between Kentridge and Harvard Professor Peter Galison, science and art meet in a half hour video installation focusing on research on time and space, as well as the complex legacies of colonialism and industry. This artwork is situated in one room and features a mechanized Plato's cave in which five video projections surround the viewer. Projections include collages of moving images centering around the topic of fragmentation, as well as moments of coherence.The entire motion seems to be run by a pumping, organ-like sculpture, a loud rhythmic wooden "breathing elephant" in the center of the installation. Various changing conceptions of time are shown not only over the span of each film sequence, but also simultaneously on the three different walls while blending together synchronized animations, live action sequences, and texts. The piece centers around the year 1905 including the prehistory of Einstein's theory of relativity and the early stages of silent cinema. Kentridge’s work shadows mortality with a march of death. It also tries to avoid the irreversible aspect of time in wishing to unwind time, with referring to time loops, objective / subjective / linear / circular time aspects, entropy, cosmic time, emotional aspects of time, historical time, thickening of time with drawing and the notion of absolute time. The varied points of reference in the installation speak directly to time in variance.

I will present an interpretation of the work’s complex composition, unveiling its temporal aspects and underlying messages.



Temporal Otherness and the ‘Gifted’ Child in Fiction

(Adam Barrows)

“Temporal Otherness and the ‘Gifted’ Child in Fiction”

This paper explores how children with disabilities have been represented in fiction as temporal “others” with access to temporal experience outside of human frameworks. The intellectually disabled child has long been represented as gifted with extra-ordinary powers to more keenly experience nonhuman temporality. Children who communicate with ghosts from the past or future, for example, or who make first contact with alien beings that exist on alternate temporal planes are longstanding tropes of the horror and science fiction genres. Enabling authors to gesture towards forms of temporal experience that exceed human perception, these tropes might be understood in terms of what Michael Bérubé has described as a “disability chronotope.” Yet in using children with disabilities as “gateway” characters to represent non-human time-scales, the “disability chronotope” has depended on rehearsing long-standing cultural stereotypes of disabled persons as wild, magical, or other-worldly. Attempts to see beyond human temporal perception in fiction have thus often happened on the backs of characters who must themselves be dehumanized and made radically “other” in order for the chronotope to work. At a time when quite laudable efforts are being made by time scholars to think past and beyond the time of the human (to think in terms of the time of the earth and of non-human temporal multiplicities), we need to be cognizant of the cultural histories of the tropes we use to mediate between human consciousness and alternative non-human temporalities. In this paper, I examine as case studies two “gifted” children with disabilities in the work of the Midwestern science-fiction writer, Clifford D. Simak, who, in works like his Hugo award winning Way Station (1964) and his later novel, Mastodonia (1978), combined his twin obsessions of non-human ecologies and time travel with the trope of mute or intellectually disabled children who commune with aliens.

Diplomatic Devices: Clocks and Clashing Time(s) in late 16th century Japa

(Angelika Koch)

In his Treatise on Striking Contrasts in the Customs of Europe and Japan (1585), the Portuguese Jesuit Luis Frois observed that ‘In our monasteries we have clocks made of iron; the Japanese have only water clocks’. New types of timepieces had, in fact, already begun to arrive on Japanese shores in small numbers at the time of writing - but Frois’ perceived ‘contrast’ clearly runs deeper than that. Clocks represented not merely a novel and different technology of time measurement, but also an intercultural clash of ideas about time, a case of time in variance. As a consequence, imported mechanical clocks were largely ‘time-less’ time pieces in Japan at this early period, their time-keeping function secondary or altogether non-existent.

The present paper will explore clocks instead as cases of intercultural and interpersonal exchange as they occurred from the mid-16th century onwards, mostly between Europe and Japan, but significantly also within East Asia and Japan itself. It will trace the social lives of time-keepers and explore their shifting identities, meanings and emotive associations as they moved across both space and time. The late 16th century was a time when Japanese networks trade and diplomacy were expanding, and when Japan first encountered European nations: Portugal, Spain, and later the Dutch and English. Among the first foreigners to arrive were the ‘Southern Barbarian’ Jesuits, who brought the earliest recorded mechanical clocks, beginning in 1551. For missionaries, clocks became a diplomatic tool in their efforts towards gaining a secure foothold in the country, as they later would (with more long-term success) in China. For the Japanese ruling elite, by contrast, the time pieces became part of what Morgan Pitelka has termed the ‘spectacular accumulation’ of objects, which was such a salient feature of power consolidation in the unstable and fluid world of Warring States Japan. It is within these conflicting interests and contexts that we have to interpret the subsequent process of adoption of mechanical time pieces in Japan and the clash of time(s) it represented.


Variations in narrative temporalities: John Farrow's 1948 noir film The Big Clock

(Raphaëlle Costa de Beauregard)

While clocks express a search for stable time measures, John Farrow’s 1948 screen adaptation of Kenneth Fearing’s novel The Big Clock (1947) explores an unstable world. Crime magazine editor George Stroud interprets his life as a race against time, but his boss Earl Jannoth, a megalomaniac press tycoon, sees time as a struggle for power. Unknown to either of them, they simultaneously mistake a moment’s leisure for a pause in the March of Time. They consequently become the prisoners of the conglomerate’s towering building, and its Big Clock on top. Actually, the latter’s mechanism is likely to be interpreted differently according to circumstances by all the characters in the film who get involved in the plot. The labyrinth of the building’s countless floors, as well as its elevator and its staircase leading to the Clock, increasingly become emblematic of Time’s invisible but all too real unrelenting progress. It will be suggested in this paper that such circular and linear temporalities make Time’s emblematic Scythe visible on screen, though it might all be a mere scheme issued from the human mind’s awareness of mortality.


The concept of the moment in Dōgen and his pupil Sen‘e’s writings

(Etienne Staehelin)


Dōgen Zenji (1200–1253), credited with importing Sōtō Zen Buddhism from China to Japan, manages to attract scholarly attention as few other Japanese religious thinkers do. The main reason for this is probably his extensive seminal work called the Shōbōgenzō, in which he conceptualizes many fundamental aspects of human experience and existence. One of the main foci of academic scrutiny regarding the Shōbōgenzō is its theory of time in the fascicle of „Uji.“ There Dōgen develops a complex, multi-layered concept of the moment, which reveals an understanding of time that is at the same time linear as it is not. For him, moments are arrayed in a set series they pass through – but on the other hand, the entirety of time is inherent in every single one of those moments. Another dimension of his time is that he connects time (ji) with what exists (u); thus for him, any given moment is only thinkable inextricably linked to the specific constellation of everything that exists at this given moment. However, where Dōgen’s concept of time is characterized by a remarkable variance of differing approaches to, and aspects of the topic, this changes drastically in the thought of his pupil Sen‘e (dates unknown). Sen’e also writes about the moment in his commentary of the Shōbōgenzō – however, rather than following the variance that Dōgen’s time exhibits, he focuses on one specific characteristic of time. What determines Sen’e’s time is a fervent emphasis on the unity not only of all moments, but of everything that exists. This lopsided focus on the oneness of everything leads to another key difference to his master: where for Dōgen, time and what exists are set on the same level, to Sen‘e, what exists is no more than a function of time.



Rites of Temporality: A Cross-Cultural Modernity?

(Hitzky Shoham)


The proposed paper uses the anthropological history of life cycle rituals in modern societies in order to explain how and why has the personal birthday become the ne plus ultra for individuals in the modern industrial society, and to demonstrate the rise of modern rites of temporality, across cultures and traditions. Several historians showed that modern industrial (and post-industrial) societies not only have produced increasingly complex and sophisticated methods of measuring and synchronizing time, but also made chronological age one of the most important elements of identity construction and social organization. My paper examines this argument from the perspective of ritual, based on theoreticians of modern temporality such as Elias, Blumenberg, Koselleck, and Latour. The festive culture of the modern-industrial age substituted classical rites of passage with rituals that mark the passage of time and latch on to its artificial milestones, which are derived by means of mathematical methods that are quite arbitrary—such as the decimal system and the solar year. Chief among them, the birthday ritual that was ubiquitously popularized by industrialization wherever it took place. The celebrant may be an individual, or a larger entity such as a nation, city, institution, and so on. The individual birthday has preserved the same basic form of celebration—a cake and candles (whose origins dates back to ancient Romans)—even in the “Postsentimental Age” that otherwise brought major changes to the festive culture of post-industrial societies. This ritual expresses themes characteristic of modern-industrial and post-industrial culture: individualism, historical consciousness, consumer culture, sentimental family, sentimental childhood—and artificial temporality. Despite the inner diversity in rites of temporality, their massive rise in the modern era for individuals and groups indicates a popular and cross-cultural self-understanding on the temporal axis as an emblem of “modernity.“


Temporal Variance, Timely Information, and Civil Rights

(Katherine Sibley)


This paper explores social and legal change in African-American civil rights in the 1920s, the 1960s, and today, examining how temporal variance in the media’s dissemination of information affects reform. Pressure for change occurs when supporting evidence for it is readily accessible, and changing technology has indeed accelerated the dissemination of such evidence. However, temporal variance is only one factor in explaining social and legal change; political and economic legacies often complicate the story.


In the 1920s, despite a civil rights effort drawing on the Great Migration, the Back-to-Africa movement, and the Harlem Renaissance, the nation’s race relations worsened. Even the advent of radio and other mass communication to spread the message of change left the general public unmoved.


Forty years later, a new civil rights effort had much wider impact, thanks to galvanizing television coverage; burnings of Freedom Riders and fire hoses and dogs on protesters appalled Americans, who passed civil and voting rights acts in 1964 and 1965.


In the last five years, social media has ever more quickly spread images of police brutality from Staten Island to Baltimore and racist murders in Charleston and Charlottesville; resulting initiatives led swiftly to the removal of Confederate monuments and the installation of wearable video cameras.


The “Black Lives Matter” movement shows how social media can rapidly stimulate efforts for change. But still challenging are the legacies of the past; years of discriminatory practices have hampered African-American access to wealth and created divides that social and legal reforms cannot immediately change.


Thus, while changing technology contributes to the temporal variance in the dissemination of information in each time period, even the speediest delivery of information must be accompanied by an active wrestling with the deep roots on which these discriminatory situations rest.



Out of Repetition Comes Variation”:

Varying Time-Lines, Invariant Time, and Delores’s Glitch in Westworld

(Jo Parker and Tom Weissert)

The HBO series Westworld (2017), loosely based on Michael Crichton’s 1977 film of the same name, provides a thought-provoking exploration of consciousness against the backdrop of a Wild-West theme park wherein human “guests” fulfill their fantasies by inflicting such predations as rape and death on their android “hosts.” Flipping the premise and emphasis of the original film, which focused on the plight of guests terrorized by malfunctioning hosts, much of the focus of the series and most of the sympathy lie with the hosts, whose “lives” are constricted to apparently unvarying narrative loops. After these loops are altered by the often “violent delights” of the guests, the hosts’ memories are nominally wiped and they begin their perfect loops anew. Time is reset. Through varied timelines in the narrative and metanarratives, Westworld reinforces the invariant time that besets the programmed hosts and thus prompts us to explore the role of time, memory, and narrative in the development of consciousness. The random (human-caused) deviations from strict and timeless behavior cycles, so perfect that only androids could achieve, become an accumulation of accessible memory traces that feed and ignite the self-narration process indicative of consciousness.

Focusing on season 1 of the series, we first explore how the multiple narrative timelines, which are presented as if they were taking place in the same time period, highlight the invariant narrative loops to which the hosts are subject. We then examine how consciousness emerges out of subtle variations in the loops. We conclude by analyzing what the fictional simulated beings of Westworld have to tell us about human consciousness.


What Would We Do without Timing? Temporal Norms and Practices in Schools

(Stine Karen Nissen)

Although temporal norms and practices are not part of the official curriculum of most formal educational institutions, they play a major role in the effort to make children develop collectively within a pre-determined schedule. Also, they serve to teach children a culturally age-appropriate perception of time. Drawing on Elias’ (1992) notion of social time, time is to be grasped as a social activity. If children do not learn how to time their behavior and regulate themselves in ways compatible with society’s temporal orientations, they will at some point according to Elias have difficulties with being perceived as adults. As implied here, timing involves relations of power.

This presentation highlights these socialization practices of institutional time in schools. Based on an ongoing ethnographic study in Danish public schools, the presentation will discuss empirical examples of how temporal norms and practices are interpreted, negotiated and customized for different purposes by teachers and students. Social norms related to timing and synchronicity are contested but stand out as common points of reference in what is, or is not considered to be the most sensible use of time, tempo, order, sequence and rhythm. Most children in the study, especially girls, perform time in ways that teachers favor, but some children are perceived as deviants. It is suggested that these daily practices reflect larger processes of selection and conformity in education related to culturally and historically specific perceptions of time. Conformity, however, does not exclude people’s attempts to gain temporal autonomy. Inspired by Flaherty’s (2011) work on temporal agency, it is possible to capture children’s creative ways of obtaining a desired temporal experience while they are actively producing and reproducing temporal norms.

Pushing the limits of the biotemporal in Atilio Caballero’s The Last Beach

(Lucia Cash Beare)


What is the unit of survival when thinking at the level of J.T. Fraser’s biotemporal? The biotemporal is the linear temporality of the domain of life. At this level, we tend to think of unit of survival as the organism that is born, lives and dies. However, I will argue that by imbuing the temporality of the biotemporal with an apocalyptic awareness, the novel “The Last Beach”, by Cuban author Atilio Caballero, challenges readers to see the unit of survival as Gregory Bateson’s organism-in-its-environment. That is, he challenges us to think ecologically.

Simons, the main character, does not know where he came from. The reader doesn’t know much about his life other than the fact that he has lived in the same little island off the coast of Cuba for decades. His days are spent creating music and in contemplation. Time, in those moments, is made of the perception of slow change in lighting as the sun and the moon move, in the tides of the ocean, in the movement of the sand and rocks lightly pushed by the wind. However, his attention to minute changes makes him very aware of the geology of the island and the fact that it is slowly being eaten by the ocean. In other words, rather than seeing the island as a regenerating ecology that will live indefinitely, he is aware of its linear temporality, of its pending death. This knowledge brings the devastation of the future into the present, infusing it with an urgency that only passes when he engages in actions that delay that destruction. Simons wants some trace of the island to remain because his own survival in time is tied to it; the island, in its materiality, is his memory.

Thus, I will explore how, through the combination of a variety of narrative temporalities, Caballero’s main character experiences himself as part of the ecology of the island rather than as a separate entity, sharing not only its pleasures but also its fate.

"Become a God and Control Time": The seductive quality of variable time in Skyrim

(Sue Scheibler)

In his essay "Introduction to Game Time/ A Time to Play--an Examination of Game Temporality", Jesper Juuls sketches a theory of time in video games in which he posits a temporal duality that reflects the duality of the player character who is both inside and outside the game world at any given time. He identifies these as play time, that is, the "real time" it takes to complete required game actions, and event time, or the time events take in the game world. He notes that even though play time can be paused or stopped, interrupted, or repeated, it still moves forward.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, developed by Bethesda Game Studios, is an open world action role-playing game that situates the player character within a vast game and story world defined by multiple temporalities at play with and against one another. In it, one minute of game time translates into twenty minutes of world time in the game world. The player can choose how to use that time by deciding which, if any, quests to complete; which, if any, areas of the vast landscape to explore; whether to fast travel or take the slow way to any given location or not to travel at all; to compress or dilate time; to sleep, wait or keep moving; or whether or not to take time to read the hundreds of books scattered throughout the landscape.


This paper argues that much of the pleasure in playing the game has to do with its varying temporal qualities, that is, the way it multiples story, play and event time, and the options it offers the player in terms of ways to map these temporal regimes onto one another.

Renewal and Reversal: Conflicting Temporalities in Daoist Cultivation

(Livia Kohn)


Daoist Cultivation unfolds on two levels: establishing harmony with Dao as it manifests in the natural cycles of life and attaining mystical oneness with Dao as the creative source at the center of all existence. On both these levels, Daoists work in a variety of ways, utilizing both cyclical and linear temporalities.

To establish harmony with the natural cycles, they activate seasonal renewal (huan) through physical alignment in diet, exercise, and ritual celebration. Thus, the foods to eat, the clothes to wear, the colors to prefer, and the daily stretches to performs all differ depending on the month and the season. In addition, Daoists have great awareness of the circadian rhythm of the day, matching their activities to the energetic dominance of yin and yang and the functioning cycle of the internal organs and their meridians. In addition, on a more linear level, Daoists use various medical and longevity techniques to recover (fu) and even enhance their inborn life expectancy and health levels. Continuing to move along the trajectory of natural entropy, they yet increase quality of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

To attain mystical oneness, Daoist apply similar practices but on a more subtle level, working towards an overcoming and even reversal (fan) of the natural patterns. In a cyclical mode, they utilize the same methods but in increasingly higher dimensions, expressed in changing terminology. Doing so, they revisit similar states on higher planes as they go along, creating in essence a spiral of attainment. In a linear mode, Daoists go against (ni) the natural flow, actively and intentionally going back to the original source of all.

The Shoreless Ocean of Time: Temporal Experience in Prison

(Michael Flaherty)


The lifestyle of incarceration demands that prisoners attend to time in new and distinct ways. Simultaneously, their previous methods of marking time become ineffective or injurious to their well-being. The physical setting is small and immutable. One's activities are invariant and repetitious. Temporal intervals are short and cyclical. In concert, these environmental factors change the meanings that prisoners attach to the passage of time. More specifically, the imposition of these environmental factors brings about three dimensions of experience with temporal implications: powerlessness, waiting, and the burden of time. Prisoners adapt to this context by developing unique strategies for marking the passage of time: (1) the rhythms and routines of the temporal regime, (2) churn in personnel among staff and fellow prisoners, (3) creating personal routines, (4) making use of television and other media, (5) the development of personal skills, (6) public events, (7) private encounters. In short, subsequent to incarceration, convicts feel compelled to abandon previous temporal benchmarks in favor of those that characterize life in prison. Yet they are tormented by what they embrace and haunted by what they surrendered.


The Carceral Clock in Los Angeles

(Alexandra Meany)


In his sociopolitical, and topographical history of Los Angeles, City of Quartz, Mike

Davis introduces his readers to the hyper-surveilled and highly policed climate of Los Angeles — a prison-like environment characterized by “repressions in space and movement,” a “regional re-segregation,”and a “militarization of city life”(224).

This paper revisits Mike Davis’ Los Angeles with contemporary perspective and a special focus on time to argue that time is a form of capillary power used to maintain segregated and hierarchical social structures and to limit mobility and public space in Los Angeles. Specifically, this paper will examine the implementation of the curfew zone during the Watts Uprising of 1965 and the Chicano Moratorium alongside the role of time in contemporary targeted policies, like laws that prohibit lodging in cars between the hours of 9 pm. and 6 am., to demonstrate that time is used by the city both as a method of the incarceration in large numbers of Los Angeles’ youth, persons of color, and homeless population and to accelerate the diminishment of public space. The goal of this paper is to reveal the temporal policies which pertain to certain spaces in LA and how they have taken effect and become visible on street level. The spatial and temporal theories of Henri

Lefebvre’s Rhythmanalysis and Foucault’s Panopticism are tested in the crucible of practice in Los Angeles and time is the covert technicality which allows the city to maintain the illusion of public space and integration while controlling the social and physical mobility of its communities.

Temporal Ruptures and Impossible Timespaces In Film and Television Narratives

(Sonia Front)

One of the characteristic features of postmodern changes in the culture of time was

the splintering of thesense of time into multiple temporal scales: from the

nanosecond of computer time to cosmic time, from genetic to geological time, from

the microscopic scale of quantum mechanics to the macroscopic scale of

relativity theory. In the 21 century the plural time scales are accompanied by a new

mode of temporality,

marked by what Frank Kermode has described as a “sense of an ending” in human

collective historicalconsciousness. This time, positioned between linear historical time

and the ultimate end of humanity, aperiod of aftermath, was instituted by the turn of

the millennium and 9/11 terrorist attacks. Those events signal the inauguration of the

new mode of temporality in which the paradigms of linearity, causality and

succession are rewritten by the new technologies and global networks. In film and

television narratives the,  collapsed bridge between the centuries is symbolized by the

temporal ruptures brought about by the release of huge masses of energy (e.g. nuclear blast in

 Dark and Twin Peaks, terrorist attacks in Continuum, Fringe and Source Code, a meteor hitting the earth in

 Annihilation, etc). This energy opens up impossible timespaces,

such as parallel universes, special zones or black holes. It follows, then, that the time

of physics – normally  imperceptible on a human scale – becomes visible around

catastrophic events. The paper is going to analyze the temporality of the impossible

timespaces and their relationship and influence on reality. Probing the

question of how people function at the intersection of the divergent timescales,

special attention will be paid to an unregimented mode of subjectivity characterized

by inbetweenness as aproductive response to the time of the aftermath.

Changing times, changing futures. Biographical strategies in facing the future

(Carmen Leccardi)

The processes of social and cultural change characteristic of the period that runs from the years of the economic boom to the new millennium have profoundly changed the way we conceive social time and the future. This transformation, has in its turn, influenced the ways successive generations relate to biographical time and construct forms of personal and collective planning. The future has progressively abandoned its character as an ‘open future’, one of the most significant expressions of modernity. The growth in the speed of the pace of life, the acceleration in the processes of economic, social and technological change actually ‘burn up’ the dimension of the future. Conceiving projects in a ‘traditional’ manner seems to be a less and less reasonable action strategy. To an ever greater degree its overriding character is becoming uncertainty (some of the reasons: the end of the ideology of progress; the growth of economic, social and environmental risks. The world last financial crisis played a relevant role in this respect, too).

The presentation aims at concentrating on contemporary ways young generations face this uncertainty, comparing them, in particular, with the relationship with the future that was constructed by the generation of the baby boomers. For that generation of young people, in fact, the centrality of intergenerational conflict within a horizon of economic expansion was able to give an impulse to the construction of a plan that was one and the same both collectively and individually. The substitution of forms of open conflict with forms of negotiation with adult generations, seems today to go hand in hand with the necessity for young people to identify forms of relationship with the future, appropriate for the time that we are currently living – a time that is as fast as it is economically and socially threatening.

The Anthropocene Animator

Five animation lessons to develop time perception in a world of thought era.

(Jose Garcia Moreno)


How can Animation, as form and language, may help explore “the profound changes to our relationship with the rest of the living world and on early attempts and proposals for managing our relationship with the large geophysical cycles that drive the Earth’s climate system”?

In this book project, we recognize the Anthropocene as a new epoch in Earth history. We agree with the idea that “…the steam engine, and the procession of inventions of every kind that accompanied it, will perhaps be spoken of as we speak of the bronze or of the chipped stone of pre-historic times: it will serve to define an age.”


The Anthropocene Animator is not a typical manual which contributes to the acceleration in the efficiency of technological animation pedagogy.

On the contrary, it promotes the idea that Animation contradicts by essence the trends of speed, and may turn, with its annoyingly slow process, into a tool for the reflection of cycles of time.

There are 24 global indicators of the “Great Acceleration” in human activity, but the Anthropocene Era, also creates an opportunity to affect the acceleration of the contemporary mind and “the direction in which the processes of evolution must proceed, namely towards increasing consciousness and thought, and forms having greater and greater influence in their surroundings” (V.I. Vernadsky). With these in mind, we have created five animation lessons, which take the reader from the 3 theories of the shape of time movement, in Nahuatl culture, to the notion of time variance in a pendulum:


  1. The Shape of Time and Cosmological Cycles

  2. Chronography and Internal Temporality

  3. Retrocausation and Infinity Curves

  4. Time Machines and Double Helixes

  5. Synthetic Time and Ex Post Facto Experiences


Haven’t We Met Before?

The Literary Casting of Time Anomalies in Early Chinese Encounter Episodes

(Thomas Michael)

The early Daoist classic, the Zhuangzi, offers a rich selection of personal encounter episodes presented in the traditional Chinese format of “historical records” between historically-attested personages and other figures who are creatively conjured up by the author based on mythological prototypes. In these encounter episodes, the first set of characters participate in a mode of temporality that the Zhuangzi calls “the small year,” and the second set of characters, some of whom are even talking trees, are set in a mode of temporality called “the great year.” In their encounters with each other, we witness a converging of these two temporalities, both of which are themselves situated in a cosmic realm of Daoist imagination where “no one lives longer than a child who dies prematurely, and Pengzu [the Chinese Methuselah] died young.” Composed at roughly the same time and place, the lengthy poem, “Departing from Sorrow” from the collection called The Songs of the South, depicts the spirit-journeys of its protagonist through the time-scape of the Chinese legendary and mythological past as he too undergoes a series of encounter episodes in his quest for a mate. In the course of his encounters, he directly contemplates lamentable existence set in the framework of the first temporality together with the radical freedom that he experiences as he enters into the second temporality. This paper shows that the significance of these two temporalities displayed in the Zhuangzi and “Departing from Sorrow” are best illustrated in their moments of convergence by way of the encounter episodes. It also discusses the literary casting of the cosmic structures of these two temporalities in their mutual emergence from a wider conception of a Dao-based cosmology. This paper concludes by offering a set of comments on the role that these encounter episodes played on what would soon become the Daoist quest for immortality.


The Levels of Varied Time

(Lanei Rodemeyer)

Husserl scholars are well aware that he engages different levels of experience in his phenomenological analyses. However, these levels of experience can be useful beyond the realm of Husserlian philosophy. My argument in this paper is that there are several of these levels of experience, that they are much more systematically in place for Husserl than might first appear, and further, that they indicate varied levels of temporality itself as fundamental to our experience. My primary goal, therefore, is to explicate each of these levels of temporality as well as to demonstrate how Husserl carries out analyses of each of them.


These levels of temporality begin at the “lowest” level of primary, sensory experience, where temporality is not yet constituted but rather is a continual flow of fundamental sensation. We then move “upward” into our passive constitution of this sensory flow, where sensory formations relate to one another through similarity and contrast. Here temporality is a flow of object-like formations, rather than pure sensory “data”. It also becomes recognizable as the form through which all experiences become available for us. Out of this passive level arises our more aware activity of constituting the objects with which we are dealing; in doing so, we also constitute time as having a “before” and an “after” with regard to our experiencing flow. Finally, we reach the level where we recognize the participation of other subjects in our experiences. Here we find the constitution of time as an objective, measurable entity in the world. “Temporality” becomes “time” at this level (if we follow Heidegger), with a future, past, and present. At this level, we find the “time” not only of social encounters, but more abstractly, of scientific research and cosmological theories.


While I am not very familiar with J.T. Fraser’s work, I hope to find some alignment between Fraser’s levels of time and these levels in Husserl’s phenomenology in the discussion after my presentation.

Panel Variant Morphologies of Time in Medieval Japan


This interdisciplinary panel discusses the varying morphologies of time in medieval Japan (12th to 15th century) from the vantage points of three different “symbolic forms”, namely the fields of literature, economics and medicine. The panel illuminates the spectrum of temporal morphologies present, and competing with each other, in medieval Japan. The first paper will look into gendered time by way of analyzing diaries from the court and warrior aristocracy, the second will probe into early attempts at a linearization of time in medieval Japanese trade, and the third will analyze the female body as a locus of various temporalities.

Each paper discusses the temporal morphologies pertinent to its respective field by way of addressing the chronography, chronopolitics or chronopoetics exhibited in the sources in question. The comparative analysis of time perception and regulation reveals cyclical processes that co-exist with linear concepts of time. In a period of recurring unrest and upheaval, the thought of impermanence was pertinent on the physical as well as the aesthetic and spiritual levels. At the same time, a monetary economy just started to develop, fostering the linear homogeneous morphology of time. The interdisciplinary approach to time in medieval Japan thus puts into sharp relief the variance of temporal practices and concepts of time present in this period of cultural history, and serves to question received paradigms of a unified, natural-intuitive premodern time consciousness.

Paper 1: Gendered “Time in Variance” in Medieval Diaries

(Simone Müller, Alexandra Ciorciaro)

The literary output of the medieval Japanese ruling class (courtiers and warriors) shows a pronounced interest in issues of time. This interest reflects aesthetic worldviews and Buddhist concepts of temporality as well as the political and social environment at the time. By applying Western and Japanese time theories (e.g. Günther Dux, Maki Yūsuke, Roland Harweg), this paper analyzes gendered “time in variance” in medieval text sources by comparing diaries written by ladies-in-waiting at the imperial court with those written by male courtiers and officials of the military government. The focus will be on various time-related aspects, such as the measurement, announcement and recording of time, the regulation of time use, and the way in which temporal aspects are literary recorded and aestheticized in the text sources tested into. We will investigate which of these aspects of time were deemed relevant and selected for symbolic articulation. Hereby we will argue that while in male and female texts alike, chronopolitics play an important role, in male diaries the level of chronography is notably fundamental, while in the more narrative female diaries the level of chronopoetics is more significant.

Paper 2: Early attempts at a linearization of time: Evidence from medieval Japanese trade

(Kohei Kataoka)

While largely a fading phenomenon in a globalized economy, seasonality in the supply of goods was part of nature’s imprint on human time consciousness until very recently. Where socio-economic development enables a substantial fraction of the population to exit subsistence agriculture, excess production and stockpiling can lead to variance in time consciousness through a partial substitution of a natural (seasonal) time consciousness with a linear concept of time. We argue that the degree of substitution depends on the extent to which seasonal supply can be overcome.


We use medieval trade records from Japanese temple authorities for analysis of two distinct perspectives. First, we inquire their roles as consumers by focusing on purchase patterns of incense with records from the Kamakura and Muromachi period. Incense is an apt product category as one of the few agricultural products storable for multiple years. Spanning several centuries this qualitative analysis allows tracing the emergence of a dual time consciousness.

Second, with temples assuming important administrative functions in medieval Japan we inquire the possibility of such change in time consciousness guiding their policy making. Using 15th century records of domestic trade arriving at Kobe harbor – then administered by Todaiji temple, we test whether tariffs may have been used in an attempt at smoothening the supply of agricultural goods (e.g., through tariff reductions off the harvest season).

Paper 3: The body as place in time(s): Concepts of the female body in medieval Japan

(Daniela Tan)

The body reflects the variety of timescales of human existence, such as physical processes and cosmological patterns.

This paper searches to demonstrate conceptualizations of the female body in medieval Japan, using source texts concerned with menstruation. The investigation of medical, religious and literary sources serves to cover the various dimensions of human existence.

Medical scripts such as the 14th century Man‘anpō and the Toni‘shō, both compiled by monk doctor Kashiwara Shōzen deal with the female cycle as a physical phenomenon in interrelation with natural cyclical patterns. The female cycle is not only connected to questions of reproduction and sexuality, but also to a large scale cosmological time frame, such as the cycle of the moon or the tides. This idea can be found within the given instructions for the treatment of irregularities and the preventive measures, which take in consideration the large scale time frame in interrelation with the micro level of the body.

The medical knowledge is complemented by religious texts such as the blood Sutra (Ketsubonkyō), which contextualize the perception of the female body in a religious dimension. The Buddhist worldview permeated medical and literary texts of this era, and is also reflected in the ideas about the female body. The varying times of physical, cosmological and religious reflect the multiplicity of time frames in medieval Japan.

Temporal Framings of Refugee Narratives in Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do 
(Stella Oh)


This paper examines the graphic narrative The Best We Could Do (2017) by Thi Bui that chronicles her family’s harrowing journey as refugees from Vietnam to the United States. Her autobiographical work speaks to war, migration, and displacement during times of trauma. Employing extensive flashbacks to the Vietnam War and subsequent migrations to different geographic regions and countries, Bui’s graphic narrative, suggest what Delueze calls a “rhizomatic character” signaling an interconnected context of vision and revision, problematizing the disciplinary power of regulatory vision. The Best We Could Do provides a revisionist history in its critique of narratives and representations of Vietnamese refugees. It also challenges us to engage with an unraveling of trauma, time, and kinship as individual, family, and national identity are reconstructed through visual and narrative forms of communal witnessing.

Utilizing comic’s “unique ability to represent the impossible demands of trauma, memory and narration,” I explore ways in which images use tactile dimensions to represent trauma from the past that bleeds into the present. The architecture of The Best We Could Do presents comic, geographic, and temporal grammar that locates the position and possibilities of place for the female refugee protagonist. The comic structure provides a medium to express the uncomfortable and sometimes impossible reckoning with the losses of war. Replete with incomplete imprints and fragments of memory, Bui’s graphic narrative analyzes ways in which the borders of such fragmented memories can create a sensuous knowledge. Such attention to temporal dimensions of the image allows for possibilities to think about how images from the past continue to haunt and affect us in the present.

Lyric Time: The Challenge to Think Time Differently

(Irmtraud Huber)

In Time and Narrative, originally published in 1983, Paul Ricoeur influentially argued that “time becomes human to the extent that it is articulated through a narrative mode, and narrative attains its full meaning when it becomes a condition of temporal existence” (52; original italics). This close connection between time and narrative also dominates much contemporary Western thought about time as linear, unidirectional and progressive. Such a narrative conception of time, however, is not the only way in which time can be conceived. Even in Western history, the dominance of narrative temporality is of a relatively recent date. There are many places and times of departure to set out from on such an argument. One of them might be Hegel, who argued in his Vorlesungen über die Ästhetik (1835-1838) that “the lyrical effusion has a much nearer relation to time than epical narration“. Another might be the literary critic and philosopher E.S. Dallas, who wrote in his Poetics (1852), that metre is “time heard”. Even at the time in which narrative rapidly gained ground in structuring knowledge and experience, poetry offered alternative ways of conceiving time. Starting from the challenges the temporal discourses of Victorian poetry can pose to the current predominance of narrative temporality, this paper asks what it may mean to think time lyrically. The challenge to rethink time from a lyric perspective offers insights into the genealogy of our temporal convictions, but also potentially opens new venues for addressing our current being in time and the world.



Mestizo Time

(Ricardo Uribe)


How do two groups of individuals, belonging to different societies, with different temporal systems, manage to interact with each other, coordinate activities and ultimately meld their temporal systems into a new one? From a previous research and with an interdisciplinary approach between history and anthropology, “Mestizo Time” will endeavor to answer this question about time variance in society with a case study from Latin America. At the end of the eighteenth-century, in a remote area near the Atlantic coast of the New Kingdom of Granada (now Colombia), a group of Spaniards headed by Franciscan Father Joseph Palacios de la Vega came into contact with a group of Emberá indigenous people. Together the two groups synchronized their temporal systems associated with work and celebrate. The paper focuses on the analysis of a diary written between June 1787 and February 1788 by Father Palacios de la Vega. Diary shows that on the one hand, the instruments of time representation of the Spanish (watches and calendars) were incomprehensible to the indigenous and therefore useless for coordinating activities. On the other hand, Father’s account also shows how the Embera rituals and temporal system were incomprehensible to the Spanish. Nevertheless, despite these impediments, together, the Spanish and indigenous people, made a mestizo time through daily practices and activities. So mestizo time depended less on instruments measuring time and more on the tasks and procedures associated with both work and worship. The proposed paper closely follows the thematic lines of three authors: Nobert Elias, who proposes that time is not static but varies in its own becoming; Pierre Bourdieu who points out that time is made by social practices and not by chronometric devices; and Serge Gruzinski who argues that temporal systems does not necessarily supplant another but can and do coexist.


Time in variance and time’s invariance in Richard McGuire’s Here

(Arkadiusz Misztal)


Published 15 years after the comic strip “Here” (which has come to be regarded as a game changer that revolutionized the narrative possibilities of graphic fiction), Richard McGuire’s graphic novel Here (2014) continues to explore these possibilities by studying temporal palimpsests of framed historical space. Comprising 304 pages of interconnected and overlapping storylines, the novel spans thousand of years of American life moving back and forth in time but preserving a single vantage point, a corner of the living room, set in McGuire’s childhood home in Perth Amboy, NJ. The narrative continuously flips back and forth in time. Some of the panels go all the way back to primordial eras when dinosaurs roam, while others spring forward to distant future when humanity no longer exists. The in-between is filled with hundreds of moments capturing the lives of NativeAmericans, European settlers, American families from different centuries and decades, all of these moments taking place in the space between a cozy fireplace and a window. Instead of linear progression, Here conflates time and space to generate multiple dimensionalities that become simultaneously present. In doing so it encourages the reader to reflect on the narrative constructions of places in connection to their ever-changing timescapes.

With the focus centered on the dynamics of visual simultaneity, my presentation will first examine the framing devices which introduce multiple and overlapping temporalities by means of visual and verbal juxtapositions. Subsequently, it will discuss the ways in which Here seeks to resolve the tensions between heterogeneous temporalities and timeframes by encouraging a time shuffling kind of reading capable of integrating temporal consistencies and constants. As the last point I will look into the interactive ebook edition, which as I argue, enhances the time-bending quality of the original script and explores the digital mobility of post-Cartesian cyberspace and time.


Variance in Silence. About timing, time, untime and musical time

(Joed Elich)

If we define silence as a time period in which nothing happens, we immediately get into trouble. More and

more studies are done on silence nowadays.

Is silence an absence or a presence? An emptiness or a fullness? A negative space or a positive space?

Something or nothing? Metaphysical or substantial? The prelude or the finale? Can you hear silence,

experience silence and how long does it need to be really silent? Is silence on the fringe of time or in the

middle of it?

There is no such thing as empty time or untime. “There is always something”, said John Cage. Musicians

have been trying to express silences and empty times in their compositions: Tavener, Takemitsu, Messiaen

and Mompou are just a few examples.

Interestingly enough , in general publications about music, like the Grove Dictionary, there is no entry on

silence. But music is an evocation of silence and therefor of time.

The length of silence and issues of time are things discussed in this presentation. It coincides nicely with the

theme ‘Time in Variance’. Does silence have a role in “creating a dialectic between temporal inconsistencies

and constants”? Belonging to different scales – how does silence fit in there? Inconsistent, annoying, unstable

or stable, consistent and the ultimate in time?

Examples of silence in music and the way composers have dealt with it, will illustrate this presentation. How

much silence is bearable? What is the relation between timelessness and silence? Where does silence begin,

where does it end and how does it influence our societies?


Time in me: some stories of embodiment, perception and experience in variance from the Earth to


(Laura Leuzzi)

"What a wonderful little almanac you are, Celia! 
Is it six calendar or six lunar months?”
George Eliot, Middlemarch



Embodying, experiencing and representing time are key elements of artists’ performing time. Through performing the time flowing, artists have been questioning the very nature of how we represent and experience the passing of time, opposing a personal and living organism to a mechanical or astronomical device.

This presentation draws inspiration from two artworks: Time (1970) by Lamelas, where the artist gives instructions to performers to pass the time every sixty seconds; and How the stars stand (2015) by Sara Morawetz that performed time as on Mars.

With varied approaches, these performative clocks mark different shifts – that we could define as “variances” - between a time that is internal and one that is external, a conventional time and the time that is perceived and “lived”, between our personal and intimate time and public time, that is inevitably charged by political and social connotations.

The notion of circadian rhythm is strongly represented in many of these artworks: a corporeal and physical rhythm, representing our inner clock, in relation to external factors as light and darkness.

These works allow the audience, the artists and the performers to experience collectively time in a way that is vehiculated by instructions given by the artists, or collectively emerging or negotiated during the performance, configurating as something that is at the same time part of everyday life but also separated from it.

In our presentations we will discuss a number of these two case studies in parallel to other works from the 20th and 21st Century, examining critically the above-mentioned elements and approaches.


Before and After: Time in Jesuit Spirituality and Political Theology

(Steven Mailloux)


This paper examines the rhetorics of time elaborated in the varied scales of the natural, human, and supernatural within the work of two Jesuit thinkers, Karl Rahner and Gaston Fessard. I begin by comparing the metaphysical anthropology of Rahner to the social anthropology of Fessard in terms of Heidegger’s ontological perspectives on temporality and historicity. Then I focus on the role of time in Rahner’s and Fessard’s commentaries on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, arguably the two most influential twentieth-century interpretations of the central text of the Jesuit way of proceeding. I organize my comparison around the way Fessard works out the Before/After dialectic of temporal experience in Ignatian spirituality as it relates to natural, human, and supernatural histories. Finally, I turn to how Fessard uses his Hegelian interpretation of the exercises as a political theology to intervene in a timely manner into national and international politics at mid-century, especially through his development of the intersecting dialectics of Before/After, Master/Slave, Man/Woman, and Pagan/Jew.



Thinking Like A Garden: Time Variations in The Garden of Cosmic Speculation

(Paul Harris)


This paper provides a virtual, annotated tour through landscapes that express and provoke embodied engagements with time across a range of radically varying scales (from the subatomic to the cosmic) and cycles (lunar/tidal, climactic, geologic).


The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, created in 1989 by Maggie Keswick and Charles Jencks, and still being developed by Jencks, features large-scale installations that include The Quark Walk, The Comet Bridge, The Fractal Bridge, The DNA Garden of the Six Senses, and The Universe Cascade. For Jencks, garden design is a "cosmogenic art that … layers ideas and patterns into a complex whole. The layers should make one slow down, think, and wonder about received notions.” Gardens must "not only present [a] worldview but also heighten our relationship to it, through the senses" (including the sense of humor). He stipulates that “Understanding demands a certain slowing of time—why else enter a garden?” (5). This presentation will focus on The Universe Cascade, which presents the history of the universe in a series of 25 “jumps,” each embodied as a platform along staircases ascending a hillside. The presentation will analyze the relations among Jencks’s conceptual model of time, the geologic timescales of the rocks used in forming the displays, and the trains of thought spurred by a trip through the site.



Transformation, Trauma, and Dystopia in Time: Jia Zhangke’s Platform and Mountains May Depart

(Yanjie Wang)


This paper analyzes Jia Zhangke’s two epic films Platform (2000) and Mountains May Depart (2015) with a focus on their representation of time and change. Arguably the most significant figure of China’s sixth generation filmmakers, Jia Zhangke has been known for his cinematic endeavors to “capture the transforming reality” in contemporary China. Whereas Platform portrays the incredible social, economic and cultural changes taking place over a decade in the wake of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), Mountains May Depart delineates the even more drastic transformations of China along with its expedite urbanization and globalization processes since the new millennium. This paper takes interest in the predominant long shots, long takes, and extremely limited camera movement used in Platform. It explores how these techniques not only accentuate an experiential passage of time but also amplify the human effects of large-scale changes over time, especially the trauma at the crossroads of socialism and capitalism. Mountains May Depart continues Jia’s usual concern with China’s transforming reality, nevertheless, it ventures to represent an unknown future set in the year of 2015 in one segment of the film. While some critics charge Jia of his complicity with linear history, I contend that this film delivers a poignant critique of China’s relentless urbanization, globalization, as well as teleology. It paints a devastating picture of the collapse of familial structure and loss of intimate human connection. Instead of presenting hope in the future, the film imagines future as a complete dystopia— a harsh consequence of China’s mindless development.


Facing the Anthropocene: Timescale, Ideology, Desire, Ethics

(Robert Daniel)


This think piece delves into variables that shape human attitudes toward climate change, ecosystem-destroying forces and large-scale extinctions attributable to human action. The temporal framing employed, the political/social/spiritual ideologies informing worldviews, the attitudes adopted toward self-mastery relative to desire and the ethical frameworks most valued contribute significantly to whether or not one accepts the very notion of the Anthropocene as an appropriate construct. Likewise, these interconnected dimensions of human social life are cognitive motivators that shape how one addresses the mass of wicked problems that Homo sapiens sapiens and our world face. The acts of recognizing and addressing these problems are shaped by variables that leaders and policy-makers typically neither acknowledge nor actively employ in characterizing issues or framing policies. Such reluctance to think systematically about these variances in human outlook and motivation is problematic. I will parse some of the implications of these particular factors in facing the Anthropocene.

Timescale. Human temporal framing fluctuates between the biotemporal, the noötemporal, and the sociotemporal. Different time perspectives tend to lead to different kinds of thinking about issues.

Ideology. Human timescales interplaying with ideologies tend to accentuate certain datasets, results, consequences, or priorities and to veil others.

Desire. The evolutionarily programmed sensations of pleasure-seeking or hunger satisfaction can dominate human thought, reinforced by particular temporal foci, obscuring productive action pathways.

Ethics. The moral imperatives that one discerns in the order of the universe can, in their interplay with these dimensions, focus human attention in variable ways.

In the end, I will argue that, as a species, we need to focus quite seriously and scientifically on the effects of these variables if we are to be successful in facing the Anthropocene in a way that will ensure longer-term human survival and mark Homo sapiens sapiens as something other than a malignant evolutionary glitch.



Ritual Time, Civil Time, and Cosmic Time: Three Heterogenous Temporalities in Premodern Islamic Society

(Johannes Thomann)

The five daily prayer times, the weekly congregation in the Friday mosque, the lunar-yearly feasting in the month of Ramadan, and the usually once-in-a-life-time pilgrimage to Mecca in the month of Dhu l-Hijja provide the key frame-work for Muslim ritual practice. They are time out, interrupting the continuous flow of every-day life. In premodern Islamic society, civil life was organized by seasonal hours, the week-days and the solar year. Labour was organized by the twelve hours of the day, economic and administrative activities took place on particular days of the week, and taxes were raised on dates in the kharāj year. These two time-regimes correspond perfectly to Le Goff’s “Church's Time and Merchant's Time”. But there was a third temporal orientation, which, for many individuals, had priority over the other two. Astrology was not only an important technique for specialist consultants of the elites, it was also used in a simplified form amongst the middle and working classes for organizing individual daily life. Documentary evidence, especially from Egypt, proves that the course of the moon and its aspects to the planets formed the basis for recommending days and hours for certain actions, such as going to the bath, buying cloths, and so on. Such information circulated in the form of almanacs, small leaflets with the daily prognostics for a particular year. Astrology was based on the Greek concept of the cosmos, the idea that the universe is an interlinked and hierarchically ordered system, in which all events in the system below the moon depend on the movements in the upper region, the macrocosmos. Therefore, it is appropriate to call a temporal orientation based upon it “cosmic time”. This paper will analyse social, transcendental and structural aspects of the three time-regimes.




(Emily DiCarlo)

Approaching with the foundational belief that time is felt, my presentation explores the shifting temporal variance experienced between two individuals residing time zones apart. With an exemplary focus on the deviating time regimes between the Daylight Saving Time (DST) standardized Canadian provinces and the anomaly province of Saskatchewan, which observes Central Standard Time year-round, I will explore how this perceived disruption in time can be collaboratively mended through performative gestures.

I will present this concept through a two-fold approach: an on-site installation or screening of my two-channel performance-for-video work, I Need To Be Closer to You (DST IV), 2018 and a lecture, which uses the aforementioned work as the grounding reference for my developed methodology to “overcome” this specific variance in time.

Through the lens of Romantic Conceptualism, I Need To Be Closer to You (DST IV) exhibits how shifting temporal frameworks can put felt strain on long-distance relationships. The fluctuating temporal orientation of two lovers comes to the forefront and centres on the physical moment when spring Daylight Saving Time regulations go into effect and clocks turn ahead to lose an hour. In relation to the steady ticking of unphased Saskatchewan, a felt temporal distance dilates between the two individuals from a one-hour to a two-hour difference. This kink in cadence produces an oscillating yet consistent format of time variation every year: for six months of the year during DST, the individuals are two hours apart, and for the remaining six months, they are only one hour apart. Through the process of documenting, dissecting, manipulating, and finally re-constructing the performed-for-video footage, the final work conceptually remedies a creative loophole by performing a simulation of closeness to reclaim the lost time and to resist manufactured temporal restrictions.

Experiments in the Engineering of Extraordinary Calendars

(Peter Duchemin)

The theme: “Time in Variance” allows us to consider the field of pure differentiality: the space from which mediations ultimately arise. As an artist and a philosopher, I recognize that difference, or time in-itself, is impossible to simplify into a package parse-able by humans, unless radical creative steps are taken. It is these creative steps that translate an impersonal reality of natural change into an inter-personal matrix of continuity, which allows for both cyclical and linear time-narratives to be conceived. Both the initial design of the matrix, as well as what is superimposed upon it as narrative, constitute critical elements in the production of time-as-human-mediation. State calendars, rebel calendars, experimental calendars. The breadth of use often depends upon economic factors and upon dominant institutions, and yet it is still possible, even essential to ask: “What can a calendar do, assuming we are not trying to compel it to be accepted as socially mandatory?” Can we simply play with calendrics: experiment and build features into time’s design as part of a semi-private contemplation on what that entails? My presentation will document my own negotiation with this question, in particular with regard to the calendrical experiments which I have been conducting since 2003. I have designed calendars for all the major planets, and some of the moons, which are synthesized into a time-keeping game that uses counting-boards, or parapegmata to track the solar system heliocentrically. I will present my methods and principals of design, as well as some examples of the counting boards themselves, and give a general demonstration of how the system works. This will be an artistic and scholarly presentation, and will attempt to engage the audience in the kinds of question that a neo-calendricist needs to be asking when designing, running, and discussing their works.

Time Asymmetry and Probability

(Shin’ya Tsubai)

The concept of time has been discussed since the earliest records of philosophy. It is rooted in the subjective experience of the passing present which appears to flow through time and thereby to separate the past from the future. What I want to present here is a tension between fundamental microscopic physical theory and macroscopic human experience concerning with the sharpness of distinction between the past and the future. It is well known that fundamental physical theory is based upon time-reversal invariant form except for the Second Law of Thermodynamics (Statistical physics is now believed to provide an explanation and generalization of phenomenological thermodynamics including the Second Law). According to the final picture of the Second Law, we expect to find an isolated system at or near equilibrium. In a statistical description, irreversal process is described from improbable state to probable state. The issues have been explored rather as a means of providing resources useful in discussing the so called problem of the direction of time. The resources of statistical mechanics have been invoked in order to offer a reductionist account of notion of past-future asymmetry itself. The idea has been that it is the asymmetry of the world in entropic aspects. However, the asymmetry in the Second Law is now known to be a mere “de facto” asymmetry not grounded in foundational law. Its origin is to be formed in the asymmetry in the distinction of initial condition of ensemble of system that is represented by the differing appropriate representing statistical ensembles for initial and final macroscopic condition attributed to them.

I want to suggest that if the physical asymmetry is merely an asymmetry of the way in which microscopic initial and final condition are distributed over the possibilities allowed by macroscopic conditions, the asymmetry could not be attributed to time-itself as the ultimate explanatory factors and what must be explained in order to verify time-asymmetry in the physical theory..


Keyword: time-asymmetry, Second Law Thermodynamics, probability

The Place of Gardens in the End Times

(David Wood)

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” Greek Proverb

Gardening is essentially an expression of hope in the future, reflecting an attunement with natural cycles. Is it still possible when those assurances are broken? I have argued elsewhere, we need a "temporal phronesis . . . a temporal literacy, or lucidity—being able to attend to and negotiate with multiple temporal levels at the same time”. This is nowhere more apparent than in practical gardening, and its engagement with circadian rhythms, with germination rates, and with the seasons. Will disturbances in these temporal patterns make such phronesis outdated, or more important than ever?

Voltaire’s famous advice was to ‘cultivate our own garden’ (Candide, 1757). This could be read as recommending a retreat from the world. A shallow understanding of the garden of Epicurus would suggest an oasis of self-indulgent pleasure. But Voltaire’s ‘garden’ was to be a productive post-Edenic place to be worked on, and where one would live in peace with one’s neighbors. And Epicurus’ garden was a place of teaching and conversation. Both ‘retreats’ are outward looking.

There are many kinds of garden, from places to grow one’s own produce (backyards, allotments), to grand expressions of power, artistic beauty, spiritual and mathematical principles (Versailles [Louis XIV], Givergny [Monet], Ryoan-ji Temple [Zen/Kyoto], Cosmic Speculation [Jencks]). But all gardens are tended spaces, both set-off against the world, and orchestrating their relation to the outside, both practically and symbolically. On the one hand, fences, beds, mulch, cloches, poisons, fertilizers, sowing, tilling, weeding . . . On the other, statements about the shape of human control of nature and its limits, and offering models of dwelling. All too often, however, time is expected to stand still.

While Thoreau wrote that ‘in wildness is the preservation of the world’, for a gardener, the question is how to tame wildness without destroying it. In the era of potentially catastrophic climate change, tending one’s own garden might seem like finishing a crossword puzzle while the Titanic flounders. But might there not be resources within gardening (and the history of gardens, as well as in contemporary reflections on gardening1), for developing practices of non-dominating care, and re-imagining our relation to Nature, that, directly or indirectly, could encourage more sustainable shapes of dwelling? If ‘time is out of joint’, and gardening is not immune from climatic tipping points and discontinuities with respect to weather, disease, pollination failures, insect plagues and so on, can it serve as a laboratory of adaptation rather than an bygone oasis stranded on the beach of history. I will sprinkle in some home-grown examples from my own attempts to recreate paradise at and its constitutive multiple layered temporalities.



Delay, Idiorhythms and Time Redeemed: Temporal Variance in Virgil and Dante

(Dennis Costa)


Dante’s fiction of a pre-purgatory owes much to the sixth book of Virgil’s Aeneid. Dante recognized in Virgil a discourse about time’s pliability or variability that seemed curiously apposite to his own thought and also to the public event that had refashioned temporal sensibilities in his own lifetime: the papal Jubilee of the year 1300, a year during which the ‘norm’ would be that ordinary actions could have extraordinary spiritual effects. Virgil’s ideas and diction, especially concerning the question of those dead left unburied and of those who had delayed repentance for their misdeeds until the moment of death (called “thieves of time” by the Sybil), get translated by Dante into a late medieval language that would be adequate to the still relatively new doctrine of purgatory and also to the special case of the Jubilee. Dante provides for his readers a powerful metaphor that represents all of space-time as a variable or branched system. (He will, in the process, also allow his readers to at least begin to question the placement of his fictive Virgil into an eternal ‘Limbo’ situation.)

My presentation for the 2019 ISST conference would seek to make the following points:

--The four fundamental temporalities (for most late medieval thinkers, including Dante)—ordinary time (chronos), extraordinary or “redeemed” time (chairos), aeveternity and eternity—are all of them compenetrative.

-- In Virgil, an unburied dead person is inops—“poor” and powerless. Dante gives poetic concreteness to a theology of purgatory according to which each and every one of the souls therein is poor, needy. In both epics, the pious acts of individuals and communities on behalf of the dead turn ordinary chronologies into chairotic moments that are “rich.” Analogously, certain pious acts accomplished during the Roman Jubilee are indulgenced in a “plenary” way: a single action, well performed and at a specific time, accomplishes an enormous amount over time. In both epics, a human tendency to delay can hinder such spiritual wealth or at least put it off for a time, such that a given soul may remain “unbidden,” iniussus, even for “a thousand years.”

-- For every soul, purgation’s beginning and ending have no fixed time; both are idiorhythmic. The souls in pre-purgatory do not “lose time,” as the fictive Virgil supposes; they literally temporize or live in delay, “like one who proceeds while doubting.”

-- Nature gets defined in Par. xxvii as an organic thing, a vast “tree” rooted in the fastest moving material body, which body, moved aeveternally, is itself uniquely encompassed by eternity or Being Itself. It branches from these roots into the particularities of all manner of becoming, each of its “fronds” incorporating a temporal variance of some kind

Understanding computation time: a critical discussion of time as a computational performance metric

(David Harris-Birtill)


The time that it takes for a computer algorithm to finish its task (computation time) is a key performance metric that many scientists and software engineers use to determine whether an algorithm is capable of completing its task in a reasonable time frame. However, the goal posts are constantly moving: hardware capability is rapidly increasing over time, and new techniques are being developed that combine software and hardware to quickly solve more complex problems (eg, executing software in series or in parallel). In reality, the supposedly fixed amount of time that it takes one researcher’s computer to complete a task will often be vastly different for another. As such, the rapidly-developing nature of the field means that the ability to use computation time as a reliable indicator of performance is very limited; each new development pushes the original computation time further away from its stated duration.

This paper will examine this problem using examples from the author’s work calculating people’s heart rates using cameras, by which the individual’s heart rate can be calculated using a video of their face. In this research, computational time really matters: the system must process 30 images per second to accurately calculate the heart beats per minute.

This paper discusses the different sub-types of computation time (including response time, execution time, human processing time and so on), all of which affect the overall time taken to complete a computational process. The real-world effects are examined, highlighting the importance of future-proofing computation time, so that future generations are able to accurately – and transferrably – choose the correct computational tools for the task. Greater research into standardising computation time is vital to improve computationally-expensive real-world scenarios across a range of applications, from medical imaging and artificial intelligence to cryptocurrencies and financial markets.



The variance of time in John Ford`s movie “The Searchers”

(Walter Schweidler)


Robert Pippin has characterized “The Searchers” as a great and ambitious film in which “half of a dozen things are going on in each scene”. I would like to take some steps toward a temporal interpretation of this description. Two formal elements may serve here as guidelines. The first is the symbolism of the movie’s cinematography which acts as a kind of passe-partout, making visible the relation between the film and the viewer. This symbolism appears in the fundamental turning points of the plot, which have in common that they are hardly necessitated by the plot and are even ununderstandable in the context of the preceding narrative. This symbolism constitutes an iconic dimension which we encounter in several great works of art: The viewer finds himself not watching but watched by the work or even the artist. Jean-Luc Marion has famously analyzed the dialectic of icon and idol, and one of the great aspects of “The Searchers” is doubtlessly that it is a deeply philosophical look at the role to which the artistic idol is doomed and its struggle to escape it. The second formal element is the flashback which in “The Searchers” is evoked by the letter written by the character who in many respects represents the viewer who “follows” the movie’s narrative. While with respect to the plot there is no apparent epic or dramatic need for this flashback, it nevertheless makes sense when interpreted as a symbolic reminder that what the idol represents in its fight for liberation from its life’s role is a struggle which is mirrored in the life of the viewer and which he himself must master. I will try to point out that these formal elements are connected by the mysterious and almost psychoanalytic component which ultimately provides this movie with its unique atmosphere, i.e. the conjuration of a past connecting the characters, the idol, the director and the viewer of the film.

Haunted Time and the Hydroelectric Dam

(Kieran Murphy)

The first promoters of hydroelectricity invented the expression “white coal” to market this new source of energy as clean and eternally renewable. Yet, hydroelectric energy has come at the price of dire human, animal, and environmental losses that have often remained hidden from view, submerged in the dam’s water reservoir. The relation between hydroelectric energy and hidden losses has recently come back to the surface thanks to novels and TV shows featuring haunted history.

In this paper, I will explore how renowned Haitian author René Depestre mobilized this relation in his novel The Festival of the Greasy Pole (1979) to examine how Duvalier’s dictatorship, which associated its power with that generated by the Péligre dam, practiced a kind of necromancy that turned Haitians into “zombies.” The figure of the undead becomes the site where linear time collapses, representing instead a circular vision of time that began to spin during the traumatic events of colonialism and slavery. I will then contrast Depestre’s novel with the critically acclaimed French series Les Revenants (2012-present), which portrays a community struggling to cope with the return of their dead loved ones, who tragically perished in catastrophes closely associated with a nearby dam. I will show how, in both stories, the dead fail to stay dead due to a circular flow of time rendered manifest by an uncanny link between how a hydroelectric dam and mourning work.

That was Now, This is Then (Working title)

(Garland Kirkpatrick)

TNTT is an ongoing creative project that graphically explores the conflation of tenses—

past, present, and future—as overlapping, tensive elements in a visual connundrum

of moments. The presenter uses the printed word and image filmically, within the book

metaphor of a left and right page to visually juxtapose economic, political and social

subject matter of import. Formatting (TBD) may include: Printed editions; Poster broadsides; and/or Projections.


Place and Time

(Richard Turner)


This paper presents an overview of the design and construction of a sculpture for the Great Park Art Walk in Irvine, California. Great Park Neighborhoods will be a large residential development boasting four parks, thousands of homes, three state-of-the-art schools, and, ultimately, a lively collection of shops and restaurants. The Art Walk will be one of the most prominent features of the Great Park Neighborhoods. Its intent is to increase public engagement with art and artists across Orange County. The sculpture creates a variance in timescales, as it mediates between the rapid pace of life in Southern California and the slow time of the earth beneath our feet. The initial proposal calls for a rough granite boulder such as one might see in Joshua Tree National Park, conjoined with a large-scale iphone or laptop cast in bronze or carved in marble. The former embodies its geologic formation and travel on glaciers before being deposited as an erratic in the landscape; the latter reminds us of the currents of information swirling about us, shaping our lives on a moment-to-moment basis. Such a juxtaposition prompts us to consider not only of the vast distance between human time and geologic time but of the fact that nearly everything in the built environment, from cellphones to skyscrapers, is made from rocks and the minerals they contain.

Radioactive decay of halogen isotopes: a boon to the study of Deep Time and a bane for future generations

(Usha Rao)


The discovery of radionuclides, atoms of an element that spontaneously decay into stable daughter products at varying rates, has revolutionized the study of the earth, creating or revitalizing entire fields of scientific inquiry into the earth and the cosmos such as geochemistry, cosmochemistry, isotope geology, and environmental chemistry. Radionuclides of the same element may be produced in many ways: cosmogenically by the interaction of atoms with cosmic rays, fissiogenically by the splitting apart of heavier nuclides, and anthropogenically, from activities such as nuclear reactor accidents and nuclear weapons tests.

These radionuclides have become our best tool to study geological Deep Time, providing us with a geochronology that can further elucidate the information provided by relative dating techniques and constrain the geological time scale. Radionuclides have also found use as tracers of earth materials, such as the movement of water in an aquifer, or the cycling of an element through the geosphere over timescales ranging from hundreds to millions of years.

Another area of study is related to assessing hazardous radionuclide exposure to humans and animals and tracing the processes and pathways that transport man-made radionuclides through geochemical reservoirs such as the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. These myriad applications and challenges, and the dual nature presented by radionuclides, will be discussed in the context of current geological research using the long-lived radionuclides of iodine and chlorine, and environmental studies of short-lived radioiodine, a significant human health hazard from nuclear accidents.

Hybrid Temporalities: Calendars as a narrative structure in the literature of the 15th and 16th century

(Raoul Marc Etienne DuBois) With new worlds discovered, new religious movements rising and new media technologies introduced the two centuries between 1400 and 1600 are commonly characterized as a period of dramatic change. Besides this spatial expansion, religious diversification and medial restructuration these centuries are also witness to fundamental temporal changes. The pluralisation of ideas and concepts of time that exist rather side-by-side than in a hierarchic order lead to what I would like to call a hybridisation of time.

In my paper I would like to give an idea of the concept „Hybrid Temporalities“ by discussing selected works of art and literature. Astronomical clocks for example combine and entangle a broad range of temporal concepts producing overlays of multiple temporal dimensions in one object. A similar coexistence I will argue can be found in literature, maps and paintings.

After establishing the outlines of this concept I would like to focus on how certain methods of time measurement change literature by becoming a leading narrative structure. To do so I would like to concentrate on the use of calendars in german literature of the 15th century. So called “literary calendars” like the so called Türkenkalender, one of the first ever printed texts by Johannes Gutenberg, are not only used to incorporate political ideas into the fabric of everyday life but also establish the calendar as a method of structuring a narration. With a selection of texts I would like to point out how calendars with their specific temporality mediality transfer new broad range of new temporal dynamics into the literature of the 15th and 16th century.

Timing in Animation Performance

(Adriana Jarosyewicz)

Timing in animation consists of creating clear poses for characters over time. These poses, which are created by keyframes in the animation, prepare the audience for an event

as an anticipation of an action; if too much time is spent on a pose, the perception of time will be too slow; if too little time is spent, the audience will not perceive the action and the idea will be lost. The concept of timing in animation happens in one single action and

through a sequence of occurrences. Animators can use computer software to experiment

with the timing to create variations of any particular motion or sequences of motions. In addition, by analyzing live action footage, animators can understand the dynamics of motion, find keyframes and compress or dilate the timing between those keyframes to re-create a performance that is believable in a particular narrative, generating an alternate time in screen space that feels more real than reality. Although the sequence time is invariant, the animator extends or compresses the time perceived by the audience. How does an animator determine this timing? Technology, science and various artistic disciplines have informed the animation timing process that have inspired the creation of multiple memorable performances.



Panel Proposal: Disrupting Realist Time

This interdisciplinary panel brings together approaches from Art History, Philosophy, Meditation studies as well as literary and cultural studies.. What unites them is an overarching interest in questions of how time is experienced via cultural production and in the particularities of aesthetic and affective registers. This panel also examines the historical, spatial, and ethico-political demands placed on time by the conventions of interpretation that are underpinned by the assumptions of realist narrative, and the possibilities in disrupting the linearity of that realism.


Paper 1 examines the multiple registers of representation of time in Renaissance art, acknowledging the predominance of the metonymic – e.g. in cycles of the Labors of the Months – over the proto-realist. Beyond this, the paper also seeks to underscore the centrality for Renaissance art theorists of the pleasures of looking, the role of the affective and sensuous, and the possibility for engagement that transcends, or is entirely unconstrained by conceptions of time as a function of realist narrative.

Through a discussion of Lorna Dee Cervantes’s poetry, paper 2 describes a sense of time that can be

embraced for critical transformation, the sort of transformation that creates change toward true freedom. To

do so, he brings meditation studies and language-based cultural studies together in order to read the ethico-

temporal current that underwrites the poetry of Lorna Dee Cervantes.

Paper 3 examines work by contemporary Chicana painters Sandy Rodriguez and Yreina Cervantes—both

artists who evoke tropes of indigeneity and the history of Spanish colonialism in their works. They articulate

a Chicana historical subject who is out of time: that is, one that locates herself outside of the

chromonormativity of capital and one who uses that outsider status to stress the urgency of interventions

against neocolonial violence.

Paper 1: Pleasure and Non-Realist Time in Renaissance Art

(Piers Britton)

The Renaissance is primarily understood as a moment in which the apprehension of space was mastered and regularized through the visual arts. The development of perspectival systems in painting, and the resultant scopic regime in which the viewing subject both controls and must be subsumed by a particular logic of representation, is still understood as a key achievement of Italian painters and theorists in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This ability to render space as a coherent illusion is generally correlated with the rise of coherent, proto-realist, narrative in visual art – which is to say with a particular kind of engagement with the temporal.

This normative understanding of Renaissance art too easily gives rise to an anachronistic view of the ways in which time in the visual arts were constructed, whereby the (implicitly quasi-photographic) painted image is understood a presenting a moment in an unfolding event from which the remainder of the narrative – which is to say, precedent and succeeding actions – can be deduced. More importantly for present purposes, the excessive theorizing of visual image as narrative flattens and homogeonizes understanding of the way in which the visual arts may have been experienced in time by their originally intended viewers, with disparate subjectivities and conditions of consumption.

The purpose of this paper is to tease out the multiple registers of representation of time in Renaissance art,

acknowledging the predominance of the metonymic – e.g. in cycles of the Labors of the Months – over the

proto-realist. Beyond this, the paper also seeks to underscore the centrality for Renaissance art theorists of the

pleasures of looking, the role of the affective and sensuous, and the possibility for engagement that

transcends, or is entirely unconstrained by conceptions of time as a function of realist narrative.

Paper 2: Spacious Time: A Chicana Feminist Ethical Epistemology

(Juan Mah y Busch)

In this essay, I try to describe a sense of time that can be embraced for critical transformation, the sort of

transformation that creates change toward true freedom. To do so, I bring meditation studies and language-

based cultural studies together in order to read the ethico-temporal current that underwrites the poetry of

Lorna Dee Cervantes.

Critical transformation toward true freedom cannot be found in strictly linear time. Nor can it be found in

cyclical time. I find a viable alternative in the poetry of Lorna Dee Cervantes. To understand this, I first shift

from the ethical domain of choices to awareness, the realm of ethical epistemology. Then, I re-align how we

think about transformative change, moving from the often linear concept of justice to a more oscillatory sense

of nourishment and from big time to spacious time. These two re-alignments draw attention not only to the

linear movement in the poem “Coffee”, but also to the poem’s moral force brought about by temporal


What do I mean by spacious epistemology? It is not a palimpsest of the now. Rather, spacious epistemology

is produced by oscillatory juxtaposition; it is an epistemological standpoint that oscillates between time and


Paper 3

(Eliza Rodriguez y Gibson)

In her essay, “Out of Time: Towards a Chicana Body Politic” Eliza Rodriguez y Gibson examines work by

contemporary Chicana painters Sandy Rodriguez and Yreina Cervantez—both artists who evoke tropes of

indigeneity and the history of Spanish colonialism in their works. These artists, she argues, articulate a

Chicana historical subject who is out of time: that is, one that locates herself outside of the chromonormativity

of capital and one who uses that outsider status to stress the urgency of interventions against neocolonial



Cervantez is best known for her work on Los Angeles murals and prints which not only detail this history,

but also for her self-portraits, one of which is closely examined in conversation with Rodriguez’s wall-size

map of California, De las Señales y Pronosticos & ICE Raids en el Sanctuary State of  Califas, (94.5 x 47”

hand processed dyes and watercolors from native plants and earth pigments on amate paper 2017). In both

of these works, the violent history of colonialism takes on material contemporary resonances on the body

politic and the physical bodies of Chicana/o/x and Latina/o/xs. Historical time is rendered as on the Chicana

body as palimpsest, and in these visual renderings of that history, solidarity with the largely indigenous

migrant Latina/o/x populations is written on the body, in the form of self-portraiture, spatial and

chronotopological renderings of racialized and gendered bodies in discrete and overlapping images that link

colonial and contemporary forms of violence.


Coordinating Tolerance in Complex and Competing Temporal Systems: The View from Medieval

Japanese Hemerology

(Kristina Buhrman)


By the end of the thirteenth century there were multiple independently produced calendars and almanacs in Japan. While all of these measures of the cosmological year were based on the same fundamental principles, and even the same astronomical canon, these calendars regularly gave conflicting designation to the same diurnal cycle: almanacs from western and eastern regions in Japan, or even from the urban and suburban areas within the capital, might differ by a few days, or even by a month, or in the length of a luni-solar year. Further complicating matters for Japanese political and religious society was the imperative, inherited from Chinese cosmology, to harmonize human action not only with the diurnal, lunar, solar, and sexagenary cycles, but with still further cycles built upon their interaction. Changes in the day-month-year designation for any particular 24-hour period also changed such second-order hemerological designations, as seen in the debate over one of the first circulating divergent calendars in 1038. This paper outlines various strategies that individuals and power-brokers used to coordinate action amidst this decentralized and conflicted temporal regime. Fascinatingly, what in comparison to a rationalized and universalized system would seem to be fatal flaws in medieval Japanese temporality, did not result in an overhaul or revolutionary shift in how time was calculated and described until centuries had passed. While examples of the use of the strategy of “fiat” by the powerful—in particular, the limited reach of the power-brokers’ authority in the medieval period—shows one reason for the durability of such an unstable system, this paper uses examples of “negotiation” to argue that the uncertainty produced by the complexity of the temporal and hemerological systems was also a factor. In other words, the number of layered cycles, as well as of traditions on how to read and reconcile them, produced a tolerance within the overarching temporal system that permitted the survival of variance in the reckoning of time during the medieval centuries in Japan.

Habits of Variance: Literary Approaches to Time

(J.K. Barret)

William Shakespeare’s characters notice variance, but they fixate upon iteration. The actions of both intimates and adversaries, they claim, are remarkable when done “often,” as signs of habitual behavior. Like his characters, Shakespeare bestows particular authority on such repetition as a mechanism for distinguishing between what is singular and what is signature. Yet, in using habit and custom to furnish credible evidence of character, Shakespeare also complicates the conception of “personation” that emerged during his lifetime. In concert with classical accounts of habit’s role in developing moral character, sixteenth-century schoolroom rhetorical exercises involving both impersonation and imitation put on display the extent to which wearing a mask might mold the face underneath. By extension, manifestations of habit on the stage enabled playwrights to expose a pervasive concern notable for its temporal implications: Does habitual behavior defines character so as to render it inevitable and action predictably invariable? If so, does such invariance belie the complexity of “personation” by assuming that characters are, ultimately, types? In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, the very measurement of time was notoriously imprecise. Heated debate surrounded the proposed “Gregorian reform” to the annual calendar, clocks lacked minute hands, the run of hourglasses was subject to “the drynesse or moystness of Ayre,” and church bells chimed competing hours across English towns and cities. Yet, the drama and poetry of the period shows that writers viewed the culture’s widespread temporal contestation and imprecision as tantalizing resources. In this scholarly paper, I show how literature, especially through its interest in the temporality of the interchangeable and the indistinguishable, synthesizes and expands a range of philosophical approaches. In so doing, it investigates how the contingencies of character employ time’s variance to loosen the hold on the inevitability that habit seeks to explain.

Temopralities at odds with one another when addressing the historical past

(Friedrich von Petersdorff)

It is a characteristic feature of historiography that any historical narrative is bound to be re-written at some time in the future. The re-writing of history is due to several reasons, such as new questions being asked, new sources becoming accessible, or even due to the fact that the narrative sentences of historians describe a past event by relating this event to events having occurred at some later date (i.e. unknown to previous historians). Later generations, therefore, necessarily view past events differently than earlier generations. It follows, I would argue, that specific historical developments or events are displayed (in their narrative re-presentations) in a variety of temporalities throughout the course of time, i.e. as being viewed by contemporaries or subsequent later generations. Thereby, it is required, I argue, to keep apart at least two distinct temporal procedures how past and present are being related to one another. Namely, temporal structures evolving in the process of scholarly historical research are clearly distinct from those applied whenever history is being referred to in its role of presenting a past not necessarily questioned, such as in the case of reference to the past in the process of confirming cultural identity. Furthermore, the diversity of temporalities (regarding historical research) becomes apparent when political conflicts prove to be rather difficult to solve, given that the respective interpretations of a common past are based upon narratives bearing distinct temporalities. Given these various distinct layers of temporalities emerging in the course of historical research, I argue that it would indeed be helpful to further clarify the respective distinctness as well as the nonetheless existing interwovenness of these different temporalities. In my paper I, therefore, intend to analyse and distinguish the various levels as being present when accessing and re-presenting a historical past.

That will see us right for 20 years

(Alistair Bowden)

Event 17: There’s no funding for maintenance (12 January 2015)2