Like other paradoxes, time is self-referential. One way to approach time is to consider it within the framework of linearity/nonlinearity, in which case, Faulkner’s words from The Sound and the Fury come to mind: »I give you a watch, not so you could remember time, but so you could forget it … And not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it.« Within this specific framework of temporalities, there is no distinction between past and future, yet the reverse is also true: the »profitable« use of time that has underpinned capitalism among other »isms« for centuries attests to this.
Another way to approach time is to deconstruct it by looking beyond the dichotomy of temporalities, embracing non-Western positions and understanding that time is a construct of geography, as much as it is a construct of neoliberal capitalism. In this regard, Solitude Journal 4 –Time After Time attempts to push the boundaries of our understanding of time, by questioning time as we think we know it, as well as exploring it through complex prisms such as multiple and contested histories, anticapitalist discourse, Afrofuturism, queer positions, feminist scholarship, Indigenous futurity, and land sovereignty amid a global environmental crisis – a moment associated with running out of time.
In a time when the idea of progress has been wiped away by an ongoing state of crisis fueled by the industrialist- capitalist complex and colonial legacies, we’d like to recall presumptions of a lost present.
The journal’s title, Time After Time, suggests a breach in continuity from any known constructs of time. It is an obvious nod to the expression performed by Cyndi Lauper in her eponymous 1980s pop-rock ballad. The phrase »time after time« is moreover in pursuit of the abundant encounters folded into the past, present, and imagined. The authors and artists in this edition home in on their allegiances to time through retellings, observations, and deconstructions.
In Anglophone literary canons, phrases such as »time will tell« describe the specific duration needed for what’s to come, »telling time« or »of/at all times« is a way of marking the present moment as whole and complete, and if something is to occur in »only a matter of time« that denotes the inevitable. Idioms such as these impose the annexation of certainty with time and its passing. However, »time after time« expresses another relationship having to do with repetition – time in the making, undetermined, and infinite. How often can a single situation occur, be retold, noticed, amplified, and reduced? Time and time again.
Drawing from the aforementioned positions and beyond, the contributions to this issue speak to each other, complement each other, and distance themselves from each other, offering multiple entry points into the notion of time: Sheila Chiamaka explores the Igbo ontology of time, in which time is place, time can be shifted, and time exists in more than one sphere. The Fantasia Malware collective creates games that evoke a sense of spiraling through chaotic and nonlinear worlds of myth-making and storytelling. Fatin Abbas reflects on how time is often used to create social bonds in Khartoum, whereas in New York time is used to produce things. Time can also be a tool to liberate or oppress. »The more oppressive an economic or political system is, the more compulsively it controls time,« she writes in her essay. Wanjeri Gakuru says that »time stands still,« following the brutal British repression during revolutionary uprisings in Kenya; while BaRiya meshes past epochs with emerging queer Hindi poetics in their metrical translations and quantum-like mediations.
Often it is language itself and narratives that form the way we relate to time. We tell ourselves stories, get lost in (sci-)fiction, predict the future, and juggle our memories. »Well, to make it simple as possible,« as stated in the opening contribution by Camila de Caux and Eric Macedo, »we usually say that we remember the past, live in the present, and make plans or guesses for the future,« only to then explain that the different arrows of time are tricky concepts. »Time is a silent language, « writes Sada Malumfashi in his contribution. A silent language emerges with multiple dialects, twists, and ambiguities.
Time as a language and the ambiguous forms it takes are touched upon in a conversation with Tanya Villanueva about exchanges and artistic collaborations between her and her child. Villanueva’s time perception shifts in her role as artist and mother, she says it is, »how love exists between each of us, making time to uplift each other against the darkness of our days.«
We, the editors, would like to express our utmost gratitude to all the authors and artists who have trusted us to compile their contributions into this intricate snapshot of decolonizing time. Thank you to Kimberly Bradley for the meticulous oversight and proofreading of all the authored works, biographies, and work descriptions anthologized in this edition.
We would additionally like to give an extended thank you to the thoughtfully designed intervention by HuM-Collective, consisting of Hannah Häußer and Maximilian Borchert. The printed book from which you might be reading this introduction will gradually change when the paper is exposed to haptic imprints and/or light washing, suggesting a subtle embrace of things used over time. Along the margins of the page is a sentence incorporated by HuM-Collective, where normally page numbers would be; to tell time instead of to count (reading) time.
For this iteration of the Solitude Journal ’s cover, studio Beton processed a drawing from the 2022 series Studies in Aqueous Time by artist Zahra Malkani. We would like to thank the artist for the possibility to using one of her drawings as the cover subject. Reproductions of Malkani’s original drawings can be found in the journal. We would like to thank Elke aus dem Moore for her trust in us editors and the initial conversations we had with her and Fatin Abbas, which laid the foundation for the journal. Enjoy these timely readings.