On Time

Trust a book with such a title to be three years late in publication!

On Time: appointments, schedules, calendars, deadlines, is a phenomenology of the marking of mundane time. It asks after our relationship with measured moments, calendrical festivals, workplace and other scheduling, and waiting in general. What is the dynamic between finiteness, our objective mortality, and our human finitude, our existential sense of living-on, running on, towards not only death, as Heidegger has proverbially emphasized, but also to an uncertain and always ambiguous future? The marking of time, especially in its predictive and predicative valences, is shown as the most commonplace manner of trying to get a hold of what in principle is unlived and thus not a part of our experience, collective or individual. It is a way of making a distinction between the unknown and the unknowable, and a way of marking ourselves off from our own unknowing.

A note on the cover image: one of Hollywood’s most iconic images, Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock far above an LA street is a potent metaphor for both our existential condition – we are always, in a sense, running out of time but as well hanging on to it, perhaps for dear life – and our utter reliance on the mechanisms of marking and measuring time. This image is a publicity still and thus its copyright came again into the public domain after the standard 90 years, and not a film still; rolling stock of the famous Safety Last! remains under copyright. My thanks to the Harold Lloyd Trust for our dialogue to that regard.