Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Temporal Dimensions

"The idea of a sociological organism moving calendrically through homogeneous, empty time is a precise analogue of the idea of the nation, which also is conceived as a solid community moving steadily down (or up) history." (Anderson 26)

That a changing consciousness of temporality played into the development of the idea of a nation particularly struck me in these readings. Specifically, the notion of the "meanwhile", as described by Anderson, permits an individual to identify with a vast imagined collective in terms of certain presumed simultaneous everyday activities. I also like that he seems to express a kind of a geo-temporal exchange -- that this simultaneity flattens the nation into a distinctly demarcated territory, every portion of which is infused with nationhood. This adds dimensionality to time, in contrast to the unity expressed in Benjamin's "Messianic" time that Anderson invokes. Formulating it this way helped me unpack "On the Concept of History" to some extent. When Anderson calls up Benjamin's "angel of history" and suggests that we must "do our best to learn the real, and imagined, experience of the past", what I think is being offered is a critique of a teleogical view of history and the necessity of considering the 'history' of time itself, yet I could use some clarification on Benjamin's work and the interaction between the texts.

In any case, that print media is the catalyst for such a consciousness suggests the question of how our ideas about time are presently evolving with the communication infrastructure. The vivid representation of simultaneous activity offered by contemporary social media networks, along with the deemphasis of both history and geography in those systems, obviously has implications for national consciousness that I expect is a subject that we are getting to (and as already been depicted in Snow Crash with the distribution of brand affiliations supplanting the state).

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