Time tends to be seen as a given: an immaterial force beyond our control whose workings are everywhere in evidence. Believed to be other than matter, it affects the existence of any material object and of life as such: a living being's path from birth to death, or an inanimate object's decay from well-shaped form to ruin, to imperfection, to oblivion, is time's most banal emergence and time's most visible formation. From Saint Augustine's take on eternity to the mystics' hope of transcending time to Martin Heidegger's and Albert Einsteins's investigation into the conflation of past, present and future, theoretical notions of time and temporality have been at odds with this simple, linear illusion of time. They have identified different fabrics of time and elaborated ideas of elongation, warping and circularity as well as of simultaneity and polychronicity. Terms like experienced time, visualised time, 'non-time', borrowed time and queer time open up time frames designed to allow us to perceive time as nonlinear and shapeable. This nonlinear ambiguity of time informs feelings of timelessness or Zeitvergessenheit, it suggests possible links to eternity, and evokes ideas of revolutionary new beginnings. Yet when it comes to time's visible manifestation in matter, this perception of nonlinearity has to compete with time's blatantly obvious but not necessarily teleological linearity. Although it seems that nothing can escape time's menacing or soothing linearity as it constructs and destroys matter, different perceptions of time are stipulated even in its forming of matter: from seasons, speed and black holes to the apparent timelessness of monuments or writing as such. These paradoxes which emerge when time meets matter have attracted writers, artists and film makers.
Keynote-Speaker: Carolyn Dinshaw (New York University); Ritchie Robertson (University of Oxford)