I somehow feel time as present as it is invisible. Moving from solid blocks to coarse, grainy sand that I can’t possibly grab hold of as it flows through.
There are instants in life that feel endless. Experiences that feel like they defy the idea of time being made up of set units of measurement. Periods that feel so significant that they somehow seem to possess a depth that goes beyond that assigned by the length of time they take. I am specifically remembering a bus journey from Maresias to São Paulo a few months ago when my sense of presence was so solid that I can transport myself back to that experience and feel it still. The act of writing about it has no doubt helped this process. There’s an elasticity in our experience of time, some phenomenon where through the very act of observation, through presence, it feels like we can inhabit seconds, minutes, hours so fully that we extend the space inside them and create capsules we can then revisit.
Other moments whizz by without us noticing. Distractions that swallow up hours that we seem to not be witnesses to, let alone in control of, parts of life that go by unrecorded, things categorised as routine that our mind switches off during. I really enjoyed Sarah Manguso’s referral in her book Ongoingness to her keeping a diary as “my defense against waking up at the end of my life and realizing I’d missed it.” and also her acknowledgement of how much she ignored, the “empty time” that was not recorded in her diary, perhaps not even remembered.
Together with this duality of presence and rushed blocks of time, I’m fascinated by duration. By the accumulation, by what results from time spent in a certain manner, with someone, in the practice of something. A sense that whether observed or not, there is a trajectory of becoming in every moment that each of our acts contributes to. As French Philosopher Gaston Bachelard puts it so eloquently in The Intuition of the Instant,
“Though life may be showered with flashes of insight, it is truly duration that explains life…
In each of our acts, in the least of our gestures, we should be able to grasp the completeness of what is just unfolding: the end in the beginning.”
This issue is a short exploration of a few strands of time. I hope you enjoy reading.