'It is... timeless'. As profound feeling becomes word, utterance offers more than just an expression of preference; the subjunctive expression is founded upon a felt truth. And truth is always indicative (it states or points toward that truth). Next there comes a performative elevation where the expression of such itself elevates the object or person in question (the performative is the event in the sign, as opposed to the event's mere representation in the world of the sign). Fait accompli. Description of canonical status attained; a thing becomes sacred, a person becomes a saint; becomes timeless. A truth because felt to be so (from innermost feeling, from inner certitude, to the outermost realm, a place beyond all contingency). Truer yet if shared by others. Most true if describing the feelings of the many. No sooner spoken by the many, than accomplished, word become event, desire become the desired end, affect become effect. A matter of belief incarnate. Yet it is a paradoxical incarnation, one no sooner achieved than lost. Made (to) matter. By being excluded from the realm of matter. Being excluded from the realm of Matter. The realm of time. '... timeless'.
Somewhere between rhetoric (illusion) and reality (fact); 'the middle voice'.
The survivors inhabiting the current cultural epoch have in effect attained immortal status. They are now ready to act as our saviours in the realm of the everyday, our props in dealing with the problems of everyday life, part of our daily ritual apparatus; gods of the quotidian, guardians of our sanity and well-being, guarantors of our being. If for some this epoch is as long as the proving ground of human history, for others it is as long as the current memory of a generation. In between lies the mass culture of the middle, ranging across world cultural history with its flexible canon of 'classics' and its only slightly more fluid category of the popular. A category which -if it is to mean anything at all- will be found to range across the boundaries of generational difference to include and define a cultural epoch; the current cultural epoch, whose borders are the limits of memory, living memory and the limitations enforced by survivability into the current epoch - like a membrane filtering-out inferior or unwanted units, our current 'time' of culture. The present epoch. (Whose boundaries are nevertheless always in flux, up for renegotiation - not least by future generations).
'...timeless'. For all time. Or present only for sometime. For some time - a short portion allotted, for a short time fêted, then fated to disappear, unable to compete with the true survivors, the canon, the eternals. Giving us a contest of two essential categories; the old and the new. The former, the timeless ones, are those continually invited to reappear, to be re-heard, re-read, re-displayed ; re-produced. The new, on the other hand, are those who define the time, the now, the living present at its cutting edge - the prow slicing our way into the future. Flood-tide and fountainhead of objects, representations and concepts, attitudes and affects. The future felt to be now. The future-present. In the future-to-be, to be subject to selection, winnowed-down, subject to the contest of time. The survivors from among the new then become the new old, the timeless, the eternal (the survivors, become saviours, the surviviours of our cultural flood, our waterfall of signs, our falling signs, our Fall in signs). The antidote to that Fall, that continuous entropic downrush; the icons of our culture. For we find ourselves at once in two trends or streams, flowing in opposite directions, yet side by side, as a coil is beside itself, with a conduit crossing from one to the other (a bridge from obsolescence to eternity) a loop rejoining itself, whence a thread from the string of the new become a thread in the rope of the sacred, of the eternal. The timeless. The eternal and the 'now'. The eternal in the 'now'. With past and future as proving grounds, as the ground of gambling, the roulette-wheel of history turning, testing wagers, investments, the killing fields of human culture, inverting categories, turning one into the other, marking disappearances and rehabilitations. The process of making timeless; of making survivors of serene certitude from out of the clamour of voices competing for recognition. Heard amid the imperceptible falling silent of those no longer granted a voice in today's holy choir. A choir singing the praise of ourselves, of our recognition of ourselves; everyday ritual of our small-scale survival (some of these objects, sounds and images may even make it into our long-term ritual supports, be they chants, carols, or the cosmic associations of cyclic exchange relations which cement identity).
In this way the two kinds of present, the two kinds of cultural presence, of presences new and old (whose combination together make up the flavour of the cultural present) force into the shadow the semi-present guardians of our temporal sense, the past and the future. Categories rode across, lost, written across, erased, semi-presences made faint to the point of invisibility in the combined glare of the immediate now and the everlasting, the fresh and the eternal, the timely and the timeless. Both being variations (one the actual, one the illusory, but all-too-necessary, gift of the present) of the sense of the present, the eternal-in-the-now that makes of our death a thing unintuitable. Our absence. A space open only sometime in our (recorded) prehistory, in the past - or else in 'our' future (a future without us, in which only the saints and sacred objects of culture will survive).
Copyright 2004 Peter Nesteruk