Tag Archives: time

Lovecraft the spectral realist

Lovecraft has one again become bedside reading for me. I found this quote the other night in “The Shadow Out of Time” and thought I’d share:

Had something been groping blindly through time from some unsuspected abyss in Nature?

I love it.


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This malign influence from the future


There’s a great article in the New York Times on the Large Hadron Collider, and the possibility that it is sabotaging itself from the future. A sample:

A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists have suggested that the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather.

Where we’re going we don’t need grandfathers.

Something else of interest to those of us interested in Meillassoux and speculative materialism is this:

Another of Dr. Nielsen’s projects is an effort to show how the universe as we know it, with all its apparent regularity, could arise from pure randomness, a subject he calls “random dynamics.”


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The Art of Time and Place


Richard Long sculpts time itself by walking through nature. Simple activity in nature as minimalist art, the aesthetics of intention. This makes me wonder whether we could consider all activity as some form of art, the art of geology, the art of living, the art of…


Besides the art of walking, he also creates simple sculptures along his journeys using natural materials to give identity to place, like the ruins of a lost civilization.


This makes me think of inuksuit and inunnguat, the latter of which I used to build on the coast of the Bay of Fundy.

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The Question of the Future Itself

In Archive Fever, Derrida will write:

The question of the archive is not a question of the past. It is not the question of a concept dealing with the past that might already be at our disposal. An archivable concept of the archive. It is a question of the future, the question of the future itself, the question of a response, of a promise, and of a responsibility for tomorrow. The archive, if we want to know what that will have meant, we will only know in times to come; not tomorrow, but in times to come. Later on, or perhaps never.

Could we not take this up within Spectral Realism? We could perhaps perform a simple substitution:

The question of the [spectre] is not a question of the past. It is not the question of a concept dealing with the past that might already be at our disposal. [A spectral] concept of the [spectre]. It is a question of the future, the question of the future itself, the question of a response, of a promise, and of a responsibility for tomorrow. The [spectre], if we want to know what that will have meant, we will only know in times to come; not tomorrow, but in times to come. Later on, or perhaps never.

The spectre defies the normal rules of time and space, or rather, shows us that what we take as everyday is actually a misunderstanding. No thing actually follows the average everyday rules of time and space. I encounter memories in the world, as familiar places becomes places from my past that wash over me and submerge me in memory. The past attaches itself to me, as it makes itself present yet again, never truly dying or disappearing. Never disappearing completely. More familiar though is the spectral looming, the perfect haunting. Derrida of course uses the example of Marx(ism) but we need not be political. The spectre is any entity that could be, any thing that exists as possibility. Spectral reminders, while informing us of the past also point us towards the future (the Holy Spirit both reminds us that we are before God as well as the sacrifice of the Christ, the Ghost in Hamlet tells the protagonist of the murder as well as what must be done, while the ghosts of A Christmas Carol show Past, Present, and indicate the Future Yet to Come).

Spectral Realism is first and foremost a metaphysics of time, an understanding of the past as well as the infinity of the future. I have said before that it is a Messianism. By this I don’t mean necessarily the Messianism of redemption as typified in Christianity, but a more general Messianism, perhaps the most general Messianism, that is to say, a constant looking to the future Yet to Come.

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Ghosts of Time and Space

This is something I had intended to write when Reza Negarestani first posted his “Memento Tabere: Reflections on Time and Putrefaction,” but due to deadlines, put on the back burner only to forget about it entirely. Fortunately, Ben has just written on it, making me realize that I had yet to write this. So here we are. The essay that Reza writes tries to think through the relationship between time, space, and decay. I have yet to put the Spectral Realist concepts of time and space down in any concrete way, having only implicitly said anything on these concepts. I’ll take this opportunity then to formulate these concepts more concretely using Reza’s essay as a way of navigating these ideas.

Reza will ask:

“What is exactly the role of time in decay, does this role reinscribe the correlationist appropriation of time through experience and presence or does it amount to an idealism which favors and privileges time over space?”

I was to begin by saying that in response to this question, Spectral Realism does say quite simply that time is privileged over space. Space is, like the objects that occupy it, entirely accidental, that is, space and time are not intimately related as in Kant, nor do we find a complicity of time and space as in Reza’s post. Rather, the drives that underly all products exist in time, or to be more precise, the movement of the drives (the movement which they simply are) is time. Were there no objects existing as results of this productivity, there would still be time, there would simply be no visible result of the work of time.

Ghosts can exist without place, but only ever exist in time (history). The act of haunting is always a temporal one, and not necessarily a spacial one.

I hope to elaborate more on spacial hauntings when I have time to write the piece on Walter Benjamin that I promised as Bones of Ghosts II. Until then, it must simply be understood that spectrality is a historical phenomenon in that a ghost is the movement of an entity in time, but that this entity need not ever have taken up space, as is evident in the death drives which themselves are never constituted in space save for the ghosts they move.

But what is this drive-based time? Following Bergson’s concept of duration, we should say that time is the pure mobility of the contraction and expansion of the dual drives. Time is simply the drives themselves as they are nothing more than their infinite mobility toward impossibility, towards absolute expansion and contraction, or, to put it another way, time is the movement of the infinite towards it’s own collapse.

This brings me to the same quote that Ben draws out from Reza’s piece:

We can say that in decay space is perforated by time: Although time hollows out space, it is space that gives time a twist that abnegates the privilege of time over space and expresses the irrepressible contingencies of the absolute time through material and formal means.

Space is nothing more, the Spectral Realist will say, than the result of the tension of the drives, the accidental coming-to-be of things which themselves are driven towards collapse and, so long as there are continual oppositional drives, exist for all time as ghosts in history. We can see then that these ghosts are not on equal footing with time itself (qua drive) but must be the results of the temporal struggle of reality. Space comes to be in time, while time lies beneath all spaciality.

Finally, what then is decay? Decay is the necessary result of space having invaded time, it is the consequence of existence as such. The drives do not decay, only things decay, in fact, all things decay. The decaying of things is a sign of the primacy of time, of destrudo over objects. It is important to note that ghosts, the children of Thanatos, do not rot, but echo for all time as they are pulled indefinitely and unpredictably, growing and spreading just as much as they are decaying and dying.


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