Conference
Thinking Together

Time Wars

Thinking Together – Conference, part 1 | part 2

Haus der Berliner Festspiele

Haus der Berliner Festspiele

© Phillip Aumann

  • In English with simultaneous translation

Past Dates

Temporalities are at war. Less tangible, perhaps, than today’s countless material and immaterial conflicts, but no less real. The systemic temporal violence unleashed by turbocapitalism; the proliferation of non-human, digital time; the slow violence of environmental degradation; the relentless speeds and spans of media attention; the terror of a permanent state of exception in the name of a mutated warfare without end; the dispossessed temporalities of migration – these are but some of the time-related forces operating at present.

Thinking Together 2018 proposes to probe the current state of affairs through the lens of time by collectively considering what today’s “beings in time” experience on a daily basis, exposed as they are to diverging and colliding temporal forces: flexibilization, fragmentation and the maxing out of capacities; time horizons shrunk, stretched and warped; the vertigo of reciprocal speed and slowness; the loss of temporal claim and agency.

Maybe more than ever, time – as a political category – is of the essence when it comes to learning to read through, past and within the erratic commotions of the present.

“Thinking Together” is a discourse format dedicated to exploring the phenomenon of time in its socio-political, philosophical and artistic dimensions. It provides a space for transdisciplinary exchange, collective learning and unlearning. Freely accessible, the project is a contact zone between audiences, festival artists and international guests.

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Helge Jordheim
Synchro Wars: Revolution, Crisis, and Traffic Jams

If times are at war – as the prompt for this conference suggests – the adjustment and alignment, the synchronization of times, suggest a condition of peace and harmony. Utopias want to stop time, or at least slow it down to the extent that no change or disruption can really take place. But then again, bringing time to a standstill is also not without risk, since it redirects our gaze from the future to present, from the ever-receding horizon to the painfully present, intrusive neighbor. On the other hand, successfully aligning different times and with it people is also the precondition for change, for revolution. In this talk I will discuss the politics of synchronization, drawing on classic works by Ernst Bloch, Reinhart Koselleck, Benedict Anderson, and Hartmut Rosa as well as 18th century historiography and present-day physics of traffic jams.

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Rana Issa
Stranger Times

Stranger times is an attitude to the contemporary that attends to how strangers stay alive outside their usual habitats. It reflects on the figure of the stranger in relation to the politics and temporalities of the contemporary. I define the stranger as a person who is paradoxically liberated, yet fixed into tribal and national structures. This paradox is an out-of-sync-ness with the contemporary that identifies the strangeness of the stranger. Syrian strangers serve as an extreme case of this relation to the contemporary that I term stranger times. Like people from many other places around the world, Syrians became strangers under pressure from processes of acceleration of production and the eternalization of tyrannical modes of rule. For my arguments, I select Syrian films and textual narratives that depict the stranger in various contexts. As I trace the figure of the stranger in 40 years of Syrian cultural production, I explore how the figure of the stranger apprehends, constructs and organizes the contemporary. Arriving upon inhabited places, the stranger has a past that is unpredictable and unknown to her interlocutors. She intrudes, is out of sync, like a freshly born infant who has not yet learned the times of day. The strangers examined survive through intrusions into a market and political sphere that has no place for them. Some translate, others communicate by other means. All accelerate their step, and seek to acquire a new past and a new language that can root them in this new environment.

Terre Thaemlitz
Secrecy Wave Manifesto (Naisho Wave Manifesto)

Is silence a form of communication and self-revelation? What is the role of offline digital culture in the distribution of cultural works? In this multimedia reading entitled “Secrecy Wave Manifesto (Naisho Wave Manifesto)”, Terre Thaemlitz promotes the strategic deployment of silence and closets. She examines the problematic relationship between online digital distribution and critical cultural work and demonstrates how the logic of hegemonic internet platforms runs counter to the social dynamics of minor communities and subcultures. “Secrecy Wave Manifesto” was produced for the first issue of the Japanese culture journal “Farben” in June 2014.

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Marc Couroux
Memories of My Temporal Illness / Denkwürdigkeiten eines Zeit-Kranken

During my tenure as concert pianist, I had the habit of getting unstuck in time, like Billy Pilgrim. A pathological condition, one might think, though it led to an abiding relationship with chronoclastic methods that depend on communication across discrete time periods, and an engagement with alien (& alienating) forms of time, as so many portals opening onto multiple coexisting temporal forms detectable in the shifting present. For instance, the insinuation of capitalist vectors into the micro-temporalities of the everyday is well known, keeping one tethered to an unending present, fuelling debt as a means of quelling longer horizons of desire: social control. Chrono-economics as occult discipline, accomplished cybernetically with our full perceptual cooperation. Thinking that dividualizing of time along with the insidious, möbiusoidal temporalities of normalization and contagion, according to which the unfathomable becomes viable currency, at play in the comedy of political horrors dominating social media. Chronoplasticity. And with the equally insidious chronic conditions of stress, depression, and slow death, perhaps all surfaced effects of temporalities outside of individual agency. It was Oswald Store and his “November 22 1963 12:30 5:30 CST ABC WFAA CBS NBC”that introduced me to the way traumatic events transmute time into various tactilities, malleable and profitably operationalized, most often by forces beyond conscious perception. Switching between these time scales and chronotextures becomes a matter of setting the right traps, or at least devising ways of capturing their dispositions in order to repurpose them and perhaps figure time, and the chronopolitical, differently. As such, consider this an anachronic jump, picking up Tiqqun’s circuit relay from “l’hypothèse cybernétique” to think together parasitic infiltration in the temporal currencies of the day and withdrawal into zones of opacity, where experimental forms of life and time can take root.

12:00 Helge Jordheim
Synchro Wars: Revolution, Crisis, and Traffic Jams

13:30 Rana Issa
Stranger Times

15:00 Terre Thaemlitz
Secrecy Wave Manifesto (Naisho Wave Manifesto)

16:30 Marc Couroux
Memories of My Temporal Illness / Denkwürdigkeiten eines Zeit-Kranken