I was talking to people recently, about time in lockdown. Every day is Blursday, it is Day O’Clock or Night O’Clock, and it is always the fortyteenth of Maprilay.
And I just now realized a thing: we are all in neheh, more in neheh than usual.
In ancient Egyptian cosmology, there are two forms of time, which combine and spiral and produce our experience: djet, in which one thing happens after another, in linear sequence, in which things done are final and past and fixed; and neheh, the time of mythology, the space where gods and spirits live, where all stories are new, and repeated, and cyclical.
We are in the midst of a tremendous matter of djet: this plague, this lockdown, this event, this iswaswillbebecomes history, a major event, a transformational experience that divides the world before from the world after.But it is not yet after.
Kiya Nicoll on time.
Pretty much every conversation I’ve had recently is some variation on, “How is it June already? It was only just March!” April and May were lockdown months so April and May don’t exist and didn’t happen, even though logically they did and must have. But what even is time any more?
Incidentally, this phenomenon is totally explicable when you remember that our modern sense of time is a product of the demands capital places on labor (i.e. show up to work at x-o’clock, take lunch for n-minutes at half-past-y, go home at z). For white collar working-from-home workers—the people I’ve most often heard expressing distress over pandemic time-loss—when the office is virtual and your boss can no longer really know when, exactly, you’re working (or where you’re working from), so long as the work gets done… is it any wonder time no longer feels real?
Incidentally, I don’t actually think this “wyrdtime” (in Wyrdverse-speak) is a bad thing per se.1 There’s a craptonne of other shit going on at the moment that sucks—what with the whole “mass death from an un-treatable virus” thing, not to mention everything else—but the forced dissolution of corporate presenteeism isn’t part of it.
- Not to mention there are non-trivial swathes of the population who live in wyrdtime constantly, and for whom this is nothing new. My retired parents, for one. A lot of freelancers and people with self-directed creative careers, for another. The idle rich. The disenfranchised poor. People on vacation and students between terms. In other words, basically anyone not employed in some kind of structured capitalist enterprise and/or educational institution. [↩]