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Mortal Enemy, Immortal Ally: How Writers Measure Time

Tick, tick, tick.

Longreads

Time carried back to the future, once again seen and understood as it was in antiquity, not only as mortal enemy but also as immortal ally. The counterrevolution against the autocratic regime of uniform, global time (commercially and politically imperialist) was pressed forward by many of the artists and writers of Einstein’s generation unwilling to bide time emptied of its being in order to accommodate the running of railroads and the rounding up of armies. In 1889 the French philosopher Henri Bergson discredits the measurable magnitude of time; Marcel Proust encapsulates the whole of a lifetime within a moment’s swallowing of a pastry; the cubist paintings of Picasso, Duchamp, and Braque play with the rearrangement of time in space, and the advent of Thomas Edison’s motion pictures in 1891 provide a means of printing time as a currency more durable than money. The Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky suggests that “what…

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