First thoughts on Time and Space.

For Rita Segato, the process of hegemonization of the public sphere, in which a particular modality of the political is universalized, is a fundamental element in the establishment of colonial-modernity:

“The state and the public sphere result from the transformation of a particular space for men and their specific role—politics in the communal and inter-communal context, and later at the colonial front and in the national state—into a sphere that encompasses all of reality and hijacks everything that claims to be political. The genealogy of this all-encompassing “universal and public” sphere begins in a particular and specific space that belonged to men. This space was transformed through the imposition and expansion of colonial modernity into a sphere with a monopoly on the political. It is for this reason that we say that the state has patriarchy in its DNA. The dual matrix ruled by mutual reciprocity changes into the binary modern matrix, in which all alterity is a function of the One, and every Other has to be assimilated into a framework of universal reference. After this moment, every “other” will be an “other” with respect to the universal “one” of colonial modernity: black and Indian will be the “other of white”; woman will be “the other of man”; sexual practices considered non-normative will be “the other of heteronormativity”; and non-human species will come to be defined precisely by their “lack of humanity.”

(Rita Segato, A manifesto in four themes, Critical Times 1:1)

For me, it is important to note also how the setting up of a space understood as universal (the public sphere) corresponds to the establishment of a regular distribution of time in space: A colonial temporality that refers to a universal linear time defined in and by the Public Sphere and the Global Market. This process disarticulated the multiple and pre-existing temporal experiences, relegating them to the terrain of the exceptional, the intimate, the pathological, etc.
This operation on temporality also defines a new telos, the idea of “progress”, defined by the “present” of the metropolis (Europe) locating the other spaces behind in time, backwarded. So, in one sense the time was running regularly and everywhere in the same direction, but there was a spatial telos inscribed in history, always running towards Europe as the universal reference.

In the hegemonic establishment of the public sphere as an eminently visual space, tactile, olfactory, auditory, or immaterial spaces were minoritized and displaced to the interiority and the sphere of the private, losing their specific politicity. In this process of subtraction, these other vital spaces were also stripped of their specific temporalities and rhythmic patterns, subsumed into a linear and unidirectional time determined by the public sphere and the productive machinery. Multiple, disruptive, recurrent and collapsing time experiences were deprived of legitimacy. The time of caring, of love, of sex, of ecstasy, of partying, of trance and of temporal slides were relegated to the intimate, the private, and to the terrain of the exceptional, if not directly pathologized.

First thoughts on representation logics:

What we could call a monopoly of the visible is constantly fabricated as perceptions, architectures, and territories, ideas, images, spectacles, discourses and signs. As Segato pointed out this establishment of a space referred as universal is inscribed in a shift from the dual to the binary, from the logic of dual reciprocity to the logic of the One. This binary logic is in the core of the colonial-modernity.

I think that it is possible to understand this process of shifting from a non-binary dualistic logic to a binary one as a movement also in relation to the modes of representation. A movement in which a dual logic where representation establishes an intricate dynamic of compensations, differences, counterbalanced intersections and reciprocities, is subsumed into a binary logic that refers all differences to a universal referentiality.

It is from this binary representation logics that linear perspective is working, and through this displacement producing the reduction of space, and the representable, to the visible. It does so, firstly, establishing a series of devices and techniques that define the exteriority and distance of the observer from the observed, establishing the centrality of the subject and universalizing a particular relationship that is the subject-object relationship. And in this way, producing an arrangement of the visible oriented to a gaze that allows the capture of the observed, with spatial relationships and proportions according to that external position. And in general, arranging the totality of the real according to what it is possible to objectify and possess (as knowledge and commodity). It also establishes a series of binary oppositions and identifications between the interiority and exteriority, public and private, the intimate and the social, the visible and the invisible.

Gilles Deleuze in Proust and signs describes a symmetry between what he is calling there intelligence and perception. I’m calling this kind of conjunctions logics of representation:
"Intelligence has a taste for objectivity just as perception has a taste for the object. The intelligence dreams about objective contents, with explicit objective meanings that it could itself discover or receive or communicate. Intelligence is, therefore, objectivist in the same way that perception is. At the same time that perception gives itself over to the task of capturing the sensitive object, the intelligence begins to apprehend objective meanings. Because perception believes that reality must be seen, observed, but the intelligence believes that truth must be told and formulated.”
(Deleuze, Gilles. “Proust y los Signos (Proust and signs)”. The translation to English is mine, from the Spanish version.)

This shift in the logic of representation, which is also an ethical and political shift, is fundamental to addressing an attempt to dismantle performative spatiality as a subjectivizing colonial device and to understand that spatial perceptions and representations are not a given fact but an effect of power and resistance. This is to say, to start building a perception of space that is not reduced to the visible and objectifiable relationships, and a perception of time that is not linear and regular in the space.

Go Back <---
On time and space. On representation and logics /