To Father Time (first letter)


Dear Sir,
I suspect you’ve always known about this not sent letter.  The beginning, middle and end of everything must be eternally available for your perusal.  In my durational world of cause and effect, a holistic sense of anything can be frustratingly elusive.  Questions and pronouncements have been piling up from the moment I started to write this.  I’m hoping you’ll have time for it all.
Are you the Boss Man – our Big Daddy? Modernity seems to think so. Is time a patriarchal construct?  Are linearity and entropy, will and chance illusory? Do we rupture eternity as historical agents? Are we your children? Is Truth really your daughter?
Time, art and everyday life have been on my mind forever (haha) but I’ve only recently thought of writing to you. I was shaken last week by the start of another New Year and the state of my aging face. Taking down Christmas decorations triggered me somehow too. Anyway, as I’ve come to understand it, the grant-dependent artist needs to buy time because purchasable time is socially necessitated. I certainly don’t blame you for this mess called capitalism. All of these people who live as though they’ve never had any time – as if time were money — are not your responsibility (I know you don’t need me to tell you).  Do you wince as they use up their time trying to earn or steal some?  Many time-buying artists propose critiques of all this in applying for funding, cynically anticipating an inversion of dissent. Everyone recognizes the resulting currency (the exchange of resistance for cultural capital). The critique feeds its object, always visible and unspoken. The neoliberal university, for instance, insatiably depends on it.
Sure. We’ve all got to eat (well, maybe you don’t). Why shouldn’t an artist get paid for their work, just as a janitor, rocket scientist or prostitute would?  When a slave is given a day of rest, isn’t it a good thing? When only artists that buy time have a chance of being recognized as artists, our inherent nature, what we are to begin with, is negated – silently disappeared. Are any of us free if some of us aren’t? The ensuing depravity has wounded everyone, but it can never be represented or expressed unless it fuels the status quo.  The only way I can get all of this out of my head without being complicit in the way things are, is to write it, of course, in a not sent letter…
Once upon a time (you know what I mean, even if I don’t), time, art and life were indivisible and certainly not for sale, but their meaning has been compromised by the words as they’ve been used. Perhaps words erase what they’re supposed to represent. What results from bought time beyond our professionalized separation from life and the living of it? We’ve categorized, measured and forced time, art and life to be exchangeable, traded, dividing us within ourselves (and against each other). We mistake you for an overlord, always bearing rent increases until death, but your stasis, while often mistaken for indifference, is most likely a glimpse of eternity, an exposure of our delusions.
Will you answer to any of this or simply wait me out?  Every time I think you’ve arrived to set me straight, you turn into a baby again.