Moji odgovori na upitnik Touch Me Festivala 2014.
Nešto o vremenu.
1. What is your specific interest in the notion of time?
I am interested in time as something that we cannot know, I am interested in lack of knowledge about time, our impotence with respect to time, how it is possible although we have no idea about how it happens, I am not interested in how to diminish but how to augment its mysteriousness. In a novel I am currently working on, a character from our 21st century goes back into the 16th century, but this is treated as something normal, that needs nothing nonordinary, for example, time machine. The facility with which this kind of exception is implied and accepted should remind us of the facility with which we accept the existence and duration of time itself, in the sense that if a trip into the past is nothing more mysterious than the common life in the present, then perhaps only the present is more mysterious than a trip to the past. That living in the present, our spontaneous “use” of time, requires no particularly outstanding technology to enable this, does not mean that someone else or something else has not invented this technology already – it has been invented by our brain and nature itself, and we make use of this technology free of charge, spontaneously. Living in the present, and generally in time, is not in any way something natural, necessary or logical, rather it is a specific invention, artefact or specific technology.
And so if we are not amazed at spontaneous life in the present, then we need not be amazed at spontaneous travels into the past, for the both of them are equally mysterious, unnatural, “supernatural” phenomena. This is actually a matter of a classic procedure: by the introduction of something speciously impossible or fantastic (in Bulgakov, for example the devil comes to the Soviet Union), attention is diverted to the fantastic or supernatural nature of what we have taken for granted (in Bulgakov, we recognize that Stalinism is more incredible, even fantastic, than the devil). We have to increase the mysteriousness in order to more easily understand that what we accepted as something normal is in fact far more mysterious, in fact, something abnormal. The world in which we live does not have to be the way it is, it is in fact extremely weird, “created” in a certain way, even if there is no creator, which is still stranger than if there were one. A world without a god is more mysterious, more supernatural than a world created by a god (in the divine world there are in fact no secrets, for everything can be explained very simply, by god having “thus wished”.
The main character in my novel meets the world before him not to see it, reveal its secrets, but to erase the present and treat it as past. This is heightened by his literally travelling into the past, into the 16th century, following Michel de Montaigne on his journey around Europe, not to get there (be there), to understand, reveal, discover, understand, conquer, but rather, not to be there, to understand nothing, to find out nothing (not even Montaigne himself would he ever set eyes on). In some sense, he is travelling to cancel out his own journey into the past, and then notwithstanding his trip to stay in his own time, the whole time determined by memories of the present, the world of the 21st century ; he exists only as incapacity, as a kind of failed relay station, which actually broke down because of his own power, the power to travel through space and time. So the immediate present and spontaneous life are something that he has to recall (and of course distort via this recollection) to approximate to himself: present is always something that you have to bring back.
Spontaneous perception and actual existence are not things that have to be taken for granted, but things that you have to work hard at, that have to be maintained (like some kind of technological device) and that accordingly often go wrong. The present is a hard, complicated and repetitious job, a drill, that then often yields false or poor results, so the main character in a novel most often sees very weakly, fuzzily and wrongly. Everything in front of him is distorted and he often observes just monochrome empty surfaces or a glitch. Mere existence is also a drill during which what is being worked on can go wrong, and even at an ontological level there are no warranted results, it is not for example clear whether the character has really travelled off into the past or whether he is in some artificial world, in a computer game or an experimental digital film, or whether it is about a hallucination. Space is a glitch. Time is a glitch. Existence itself is a glitch.
2. Biological time, quantum time, spacetime, synchronicity, ethernity, astronomical time, linear time, cyclical time, time perception, telepresence etc. are some of the notions we are connecting with time. How do some of these concepts correspond with your own projects and research about time and what processes, methods or results are significant for your work?
All of these are very serious and imposing conceptions, attempts without self-irony for the truth about time to be discovered. I am not interested in the truth about time, rather the power of illusion of time, and about how everything happens notwithstanding the fact that all we have out our disposal are illusions. Truth and illusion are equally effective resources for being in the world, which is fairly amusing. For me time is something amusing, something that asks for play and laughter.
3. What is time?
Of course I don’t know that, but my illusion about time goes like this. Time is a machine, a device, a kind of application for a sequential processing of data (in the broadest and not only in the digital sense). Time is an interface (again in the broadest, non-digital, sense), a mediator between us and the raw data down there. Space is a phenomenon that appears at an atomic and molecular level, where two different things cannot occupy the same place, for which reason time can exist here only in one direction (the sphere of the arrow of time, as it is called). But time processes data at the sub-atomic level too, where there is no space, and time can go in both directions; here everything happens non-locally, it is completely just the same if something goes on next to you or light years away. So, at least two kinds of time are known to us – irreversible and reversible time, which implies that there are lots of other kinds. Some are coupled with space, others are not. It’s likely that there are some very weird combinations, and everything occurs at once. Time at once exists and does not exist.
4. What are your thoughts on the absolutism (Newton’s absolute time and space) vs. relationalism (Leibniz/Kant) debate?
Absoluteness of time is too much of an objectivist idea (which implies that time has to be the way it is, and actually it does not have to be), and a relational understanding of time is too human, too anthropocentric, but time does not depend on man, human time is just one of the sub/versions of nonhuman time. And so both concepts are poor, if you believe in them but are useful as intellectual signposts.
5. Besides these two fundamental Western approaches to time, which theory/ies of time would you single out?
All ideas that poke fun at time I find interesting, ideas that, by way of this funny glitch, reveal everything time is not. As I said, it is illusions and not truths that are important to me. Since while you live in it, it is impossible to discover what time is, the only thing you can find out is what time is not. The only thing you can do is to mess around with your own incapacity, increase it, expand it, stretch it and scratch it. It is actually fascinating that our ignorance is much more important for our survival and existence than our knowledge. Without any problems we have existed on this planet, although the whole time we have had no idea about what life, time, space, awareness and existence are. Nescience is our main strength, and we share this strength with all other beings, who also without any awareness function perfectly in the world. The subject is not the one that is supposed to know, knowledge is always outsourced; knowledge happens, it is what happens to us. So the “knowledge” of time or about time is also always already outsourced, something that happens to us because “something” else, not us, knows how it is done. Time is a clear and constant reminder that some vast knowledge goes on behind us and through us. We are at base inter-passive. In sitcoms someone laughs on our behalf, in life, “something” (maybe some dark, anonymous Levinasian il y a, „there is“) creates our time instead of us, that “something” even lives instead of us, lives us. We are left to live what is available to us, i. e. our illusions, so that “something” else could be concerned with real things, probably incomprehensible to us. Time is there to put as aside, to chuck us out of the real game. But that does not mean that our illusions are themselves illusory, they are very real. That’s fairly amusing.