Concrete time

I want to discuss concrete time (clocks, measurement scales, terms “today” “tomorrow” etc.) and if these concrete time tools truly is temporal, or just fixated feedbacks to an idea of the temporal but as a concrete depiction, concrete time might not regard the temporal unless it regards the way concrete time is considered temporal. The temporal feedback about concrete time is way too narrow experience of temporality to make further sense than as an established notion of what time “is”. But “is” temporality truly anything in that manner?


Welcome to the conversation Marielle! You’ll have to pardon a lack of a “concrete” response to your inquiry… I am having trouble wrapping my head around a precise answer. Maybe you are asking how practical is this concrete time…how can we ever establish any form of the concrete when the self, the human, the world is in perpetual flux, when there is no beginning, no end, no glory, theres a slow resounding story
Many thoughts in this space (this forum) revolve or circumnavigate around the question of time. I am sure a few others will chime in. I am pleased to have a chance to respond to you, kind, kindred spirit.

A few more thoughts:

During this time of covid, of time away from work and office and calendars and clock hours and appointments and commutes and all that … I had the time to read all of Henri Bergson’s oeuvre available in English. He spent much effort on a specific type of time, duration, in contrast to the more mechanical interpretation of time which seems to match your inquiry. Though I had a great time reading his works, nothing will compare to the memory of swinging in the hammock in late April, when the springing weather touched the skin without warmth or chill, when the pendulum swinging motion rocked me and my child into periods of sleep and reverie like hypnotist’s pendulum undulating rhythms of life sprouting up from all sides of the season. We told time by the sounds of birds calls, baby robins plopping out of nests, and learning to fly; vegetable sprouts revived from a wintry dormancy in the compost pile. What happens to concrete time when there is no time for it in one’s life?

I like Thoreau’s words: ‘Read not the Times, read the Eternities.’

PS: I had written this to my six year old son to see if I could explain Bergson's duration to him:

The concept of duration can be a simple one. And, as a child that has yet to be “indoctrinated” or “oriented” or “acclimated” or as one who has not yet gotten used to the version of clock time that we live by, you are naturally in this state of duration. The idea of brushing your teeth at a certain time is foreign to you. You would much rather proceed as you are in the moment without some interruption of time. You would much rather live a life of pure duration.
To live in pure duration is to live in a natural state, something closer to our natural inclination, our natural evolution.
As you age, you realize a certain necessity to dividing up time. If you do not brush your teeth you will have a tooth ache. If you neglect certain responsibilities or necessities, you will go hungry, pay the consequences, etc.
As an adult, sometimes (or most all the time) we forget the experience of pure duration. We tend to see dividing up time as a necessity in all occasions. We love our routines. We love to show others what this and that is all about. We love to divide for division’s sake. We analyze and intellectualize and predict and measure. Yet if all life was to read out of a recipe book, then where is room for the ingredients we so wish to add in? Where do the spices of life go?
As an adult, we may take a moment to observe the child, to remember the child inside of all of us. This memory brings in something of our past we had forgotten; it adds flavor to our present.


I would love to dwelve into Bergson myself.
I am currently also reading a book by Raymond Tallis, Of Time and Lamentation.

Here is a summary from the website Good reads :

"Time’s mysteries seem to resist comprehension and what remains, once the familiar metaphors are stripped away, can stretch even the most profound philosopher. In Of Time and Lamentation , Raymond Tallis rises to this challenge and explores the nature and meaning of time and how best to understand it. The culmination of some twenty years of thinking, writing and wondering about (and within) time, it is a bold, original, and thought-provoking work.

With characteristic fearlessness, Tallis seeks to reclaim time from the jaws of physics. For most of us, time is composed of mornings, afternoons, and evenings and expressed in hurry, hope, longing, waiting, enduring, planning, joyful expectation, and grief. Thinking about it is to meditate on our own mortality. Yet, physics has little or nothing to say about this time, the time as it is lived. The story told by caesium clocks, quantum theory, and Lorentz coordinates, Tallis argues, needs to be supplemented by one of moss on rocks, tears on faces, and the long narratives of our human journey. Our temporal lives deserve a richer attention than is afforded by the equations of mathematical physics.

The first part of the book, -Killing Time- is a formidable critique of the spatialized and mathematized account of time arising from physical science. The passage of time, the direction of time and time travel are critically examined and the relationship between mathematics and reality, and the nature of the observer, are explored. Part 2, -Human Time- examines tensed time, the reality of time as it is lived: what we mean by -now-, how we make sense of past and future events, and the idea of eternity. With the scientistic reduction of time set aside and lived time reaffirmed, Tallis digs deeper into the nature of time itself in the final part, -Finding Time-. Questions about -the stuff- of time - such as instants and intervals - about time and change, and the relationship between objective and subjective time, open on to wider discussions about time and causation, the irruption of subjectivity and intentionality into a material universe, and the relationship between time and freedom."

Im still contemplating a more extensive reply to your message. :slight_smile:


I find that there are two different foci when talking about time:
1). Causality
2). The moment (which can extend to what one might call the hour or the day, in which there is persistence to an impression, maybe even an expected sequence–here, causality might be admitted through the back-door but it it a footnote. The changes are expected, symbolic, even ceremonial. The way in which one part of a ceremony leads to the the next part has a sense in it’s sequence that mere causality only mimes the form of).


Hmm, I consider the ceremonial of time as understanding being limiting . I feel like it fixates comprehension to a single viewed understanding where it might stabilize a certain perception but at the same time leave a big part of ways to relate to time beyond the terms and segments, unexplored. I am definately not after a binary answer, where the time as sequence is discarded, far from it! I just wondered if there is other ways to understand time as a temporality than through the definitions of time that have a measurability.

1 Like


It’s not like no one has anything on their reading list, or that anyone’s reading list in this climes is in danger of getting too short, but I would like to throw in three titles to the mix which are directly relevant to the the theme of this thread

  1. Gebser, Jean (1986) The Ever-present Origin, Authorized translation by Noel Barstad with Algis Mikunis, Athens/OH, Ohio University Press (originally published 1949/1952).
    Not an easy read as Gebser outlines his own model of the unfoldment of human consciousness through what he calls five structures of consciousness: the Archaic, the Magic, the Mythical, the Mental, and the currently thresholding (if we manage the shift) Integral. Each of these deals with “time” quite differntly. For the purposes of this thread, it was the Mental structure of consciousness that brought forth our supersession of “space”; according to Gebser the analog is characteristic of the Integral’s supersession of “time”. (Cf. also this site’s Gebser channel.)

  2. Johnson, Jeremy (2019) Seeing through the World: Jean Gebser and Integral Consciousness, Seattle/WA, Revelore Press.
    An excellent follow-on to Gebser himself, Johnson focuses strongly on providing current-day examples of the the incipient Integral structure of consciousness which Gebser provides. Gebser also did similar work in the second part of the Ever-present Origin, but these only reflect his work on his revisions up until the mid-60s. Johnson brings this very much up-to-date. He does not specifically address “time” (i.e., there is no separate chapter devoted to the topic), rather the notion suffuses and informs practically everything that Johnson has to say, reflecting clearly the emphasis that Gebser placed on this particular notion related to the integral shift.

  3. Han, Byung-Chul (2017) The Scent of Time: A Philosophical Essay on the Art of Lingering, Translated by Daniel Steuer, Medford/MA, Polity Press.
    Although Han spends a lot of “time” dealing with Heidegger, this essay drifts beautifully beyond the often dry and lifeless philosophical critique into a much different way of engaging “time”, as the title certainly intimates. Han addresses a number of theme which have already shown up in this thread, and it is short (ca. 100 pages) to boot. A lovely read that dovetails nicely with Gebser and Johnson.

I, for one, would also be interested in hearing your reactions to Tallis’s Of Time and Lamentation. I’ve read quite a bit of Tallis and have OTAL on my to-read list, but haven’t been able to dive into it yet. Even though he comes from a very different angle at the consciousness phenomenon, I find his writing both thought-provoking and insightful.


Thank you for the book tips! I will certainly look them up. And I will definately write a little review on the Tallis book once I have read it through.


I picked this one up a couple of weeks ago @achronon …a splendid read! I appreciate his loose connections between the various French and German times (Proust, Arendt, Heidegger). Heidegger is much more poetic than previously imagined. Byung-Chul doesn’t necessarily say it best but he does say it in bite-sized pieces. The conclusion fits in with my playful idea of hibernation, though he seems a bit more serious about the contemplative life than I, being only a meek and mild activist. Any recommendation to drop away from the accelerated life and into the vita contemplativa remains close to my heart. I like this book in tandem with Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs (“to unlatch work from livelihood entirely”).