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Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Throwin time away - hattip BLCKDGRD

The story of the structural anthropologist and his deconstructive sidekick (his Sancho Panza, his Gilligan, his Groot). How they go out, like shamen, into the bush to listen to the phrase and fable of the tribe. How they ponder, back in Sherlock Holmes apartment, the cliches they have collected from the folk like songs. How it stitches together into a mythology – the structuralist – and how the weave unweaves itself – the sidekick.


Take the phrases, the binary: wasting time/saving time.

In the wasting corner: masturbation, addiction, hobbies, the masculinist view of emotional expression. In the saving corner: technology, devices for home and work, rationality, investment.

When I was growing up in the seventies, a mark of the way the parental order was being overturned was the elevation of waste to an honorific. Man, you were wasted last night was said not as a reproof, but as a sign of respect, as though the waster had won a battle. Indeed, by being wasted, that is, intoxicated, high, time was wasted in a superbly aristocratic way. Outside, in the parental order, savings were squandered: schoolwork wasn’t done, grades were falling, teens were sullen and alien.

The parental order, for my generation, reasserted itself, but the mark of time wasted was on that generation. And indeed, time saving devices – the computer, the connected computer, the Internet – were touted as ways in which time would be available – for wasting. As it turned out, the more time that was saved, the less leisure there was. Instead of the computer making the office easier, it made the office ubiquitous.

Such is the structure of late capitalist culture. The tear between the stone age metaphysics of our consciousness of time and the physics of time, in which time became the space-time continuum, glimmered before us in films, which can give us the retro-illusion that time goes backwards – a hopelessly Newtonian illusion – and can also give us a sense of how backwards and forwards are not part of the fundamental structure.  But these facts are not part of our stubborn experience. You can go to Santa Monica and send postcards saying: Having a good time in Santa Monica, wish you were here. But you can’t find cards saying: having a good space time in Santa Monica, you are already here – cause that wouldn’t have any meaning for the sender or receiver. Here would crack open, and out of it would emerge something formless.

In The Hour of the Wolf, the Ingmar Bergman film with Max von Sydow and Liv Ullman, von Sydow plays one of those tormented artistic types who takes his depression out in being mean to women. At one point, von Sydow tortures Liv, his wife, by holding up his watch and demonstrating how long a minute lasts. Nothing happens but the watch ticking, and it turns out that a minute is an infinite thing. Here, time and waste collapse into each other. Indeed.

 I write this in Paris and Margaritaville. Man am I wasted. Wish you were here.

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