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robertogreco : sacredtime   1

Time After Time | Lapham’s Quarterly
"It’s possible to live in more than one time, more than one history of the world, without feeling a pressing need to reconcile them. Many people live in a sacred time—what the religious historian Mircea Eliade called “a primordial mythical time made present”—and a secular time, “secular” from the Latin saeculum, an age or a generation. Sacred time, “indefinitely recoverable, indefinitely repeatable,” according to Eliade, “neither changes nor is exhausted.” In secular time, on the other hand, each year, month, second, is a unique and unrepeatable unit that disappears even as it appears in the infinitesimal present.

To live at once in a time recoverable by a particular sacred calendar and also by a time without qualities, counted as it passes, involves a sort of mental doubling that is perhaps comparable, in the richness it grants to thought and feeling, to growing up bilingual: two systems, each complete, funny when they collide, each supplying something the other lacks, bearing no command to choose between them. Like a hamster in a Run-About Ball, we can explore an endlessly generated world freely by turning inside the vehicle of our closed and demarcated calendars."



"I’ve never been good at keeping calendars, and my family says that I am lax on anniversaries and insufficiently moved by feast days (though I do love fireworks and Thanksgiving dinner). I keep one calendar, though: one so singular and private I can’t know if everyone, or even anyone else, has one like it—though I suspect some must. It’s without dates; the occasions that fill it have no fixed number and don’t recur in any sort of chronological order. Each is a return of some long-ago circumstance in a kind of momentary entirety: the flavor, the taste, the total sensation of it; a past moment in the present. Marcel Proust [Paris, page 132] tasting his teacake was led to remember in detail an earlier, a first instance; and (I suppose) other bites of similar cakes produced that moment for him again ever after, though perhaps with diminishing intensity. For almost all of mine I can’t discover an original, though I believe an original is what I am visited by. I can’t keep them; the calendar is self-erasing.

These instants give me nothing to ponder or to celebrate; they aren’t joyful or somber, express nothing but the intensity of felt existence. Some return many times, some never again. Sometimes they have a catalyst: lately I have felt them brought on by the deeply saturated colors of certain new cars passing me on the highway, chrome yellow, cherry red, teal. What am I reminded of? What in the chaos of my interior is being drawn out, like W. C. Fields plucking just the desired document from the apparently hopeless disorder of his rolltop desk in Man on the Flying Trapeze? Maybe nothing; maybe after all these aren’t memories—discrete moments of the past drawn into the present—but rather glimpses into a timeless time in which all moments have equal standing, are therefore not moments but the signs that Terry Eagleton says accomplish what they signify. If all that can exist in past, present, or future exists now, then the time that has passed through our consciousness, flowing continuously without marks or stops in parallel with the tick of clocks, resides there still when it is gone: choosing, in effect all by itself, what we are to know of it."
time  atemporality  2014  johncrowley  staugustine  presentism  present  future  past  calendars  eternalism  memory  sacredtime  relgion  belief 
october 2014 by robertogreco

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