Saturday, April 25, 2015

'Uvatiarru': Past and future all around us

Authors on the past, present and future.

Charles Rowan Beye:

One wants to sort out the details of the past, but often it is like going through yesterday’s wardrobe, surprised by the irremediable damage and wastage of so much lying in those drawers next to undeniable treasures. It is not what one had expected.

Douwe Draaisma:

Thinking back about an event that has made a great impression on us, we tend to underestimate the time interval separating us from that event. Such illusions have their counterparts in psychiatry. Traumatic events are repeated in flashbacks, memories that penetrate the psychological present and that cannot be removed from it at will.

Rainer Maria Rilke:

The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.

Carl Honoré:

In some philosophical traditions – Chinese, Hindu and Buddhist, to name three – time is cyclical. On Canada's Baffin Island, the Inuit use the same word – uvatiarru – to mean both "in the distant past" and "in the distant future." Time, in such cultures, is always coming as well as going. It is constantly around us, renewing itself, like the air we breathe.

Alan Watts:

The partisans of historical culture seem to congratulate themselves on having escaped from cyclic into linear time, from a static into a dynamic and "on-going" world order — failing to see that nothing is so cyclic as a vicious circle. A world where one can go more and more easily and rapidly to places that are less and less worth visiting, and produce an ever-growing volume of ever-less-nourishing food, is, to cite only the mildest examples, a vicious circle. ... The sudden outburst of history in the last five hundred years might strike one as more of a cancer than an orderly growth.

Sam Keen:

The second mode of time, kairos, is organic, rhythmic, cyclical, intimate, and bodily. In the right moment, in the kairos, a woman gives birth, a man dies in the fullness of his years, winter yields its icy grip to the soft breezes of spring, grief gives way to gratitude, anger runs its course, and forgiveness blossoms.

* * *

It is within the leisurely movement of kairos that we learn the lessons of dreams, mark the passages from one stage of life to another, and measure the growth of faith, hope, and love. In the New Testament, kairos refers to the moments in which God breaks into history, making an appearance through the prophets or Jesus. In a wider sense, it is any moment when an ordinary event becomes an epiphany.

Erik Davis:

"But as Giorgio Agamben argues in The Time That Remains, his illuminating treatment of Paul's letters, parousia is better read as presence—a presence that is yet to come, and so beyond the clutches of representation, including the calendar. As Agamben explains, Paul uses the term parousia [second coming] to underscore the notion that messianic time is made up of two heterogeneous times: the chronos of everyday, historical time — like February 20, 1974 — and the eruptive, immanent Now of kairos.

Messianic time is out of joint; it is dislodged from ordinary chronology but has not yet arrived at the end of time. Using one of Dick’s most memorable metaphysical terms, we might say that messianic time is orthogonal to ordinary history.”

* * *

At the same time, we miss the power of messianic time by only understanding it in terms of waiting and deferral. As Agamben explains, the parousia yet to come paradoxically makes messianic time available across time. ‘The Messiah has already arrived, the messianic event has already happened, but its presence contains within itself another time, which stretches its parousia, not in order to defer it, but, on the contrary, to make it graspable.’ The parousiais not just the original event or the future fullness; it is also something in between, the fragment or bit of realized time we face in the otherwise mundane moment. Paul (and Dick) capture this quality through the image of twinkling—a term that refers not only to an evanescent moment, but to an almost diamond-like play of light.”

Eric Rhode:

Intuitions in the consulting room recall these birds. They are tokens of a new life. The ancient Greeks had no category for time. Cyclical time is a modern concept. It is we, and not they, who believe in a return of the seasons. In their thought there was return in space and not in time: there is an eleusis, an anados, seasons come “from below” and not from “yesterday.” The perpetual movement of the universe depends on rhythm and not time, as in a dance [...]. The rhythm is always one-two, one-two (Daraki, p. 166).


Charles Rowan Beye. My Husband and My Wives: A Gay Man’s Odyssey. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. [Kindle Edition] p. 4.

Douwe Draaisma. Why Life Speeds Up As You Get Older: How Memory Shapes Our Past. (2001) Translated by Arnold and Erica Pomerans in 2004. Cambridge University Press, 2005. p 205.

Rainer Maria Rilke. Quoted in Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox, Your Mythic Journey: Finding Meaning in Your Life Through Writing and Storytelling. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1989. p. 74. (This is a revised version of Telling Your Story, originally published 1973.)

Carl Honoré. In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. p. 29.

Alan Watts. Nature, Man, and Woman. (1958) New York: Vintage Books, 1991. p 19.

Sam Keen. In the Absence of God: Dwelling in the Presence of the Sacred. New York: Harmony Books, 2010. p. 38.

Erik Davis. High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies. London: Strange Attractor Press, 2019.

Eric Rhode. On Hallucination, Intuition, and the Becoming of O. (ESF, 1997) Amazon Digital Services, 2014. Posición 653.

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