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Contractions of Time: On Social Practice from a Temporal Perspective


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Many can relate to a sense of disembodied franticness that expands across the landscape of our daily lives. We are busy people. We are plugged in to phones and computers, and constantly on the move. An elusive horizon—the purpose of our quicksilver existence—has been erased in favor of a go-to emotional state that is the result of a privatization of time. We are frantic workers even when we work against the very conditions that produce our franticness.

In his incisive book Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher diagnoses various psychological ailments (Attention Deficit Disorder, dyslexia, bipolar disorder) that have emerged from a social environment of deeply privatized and consumable moments:

If, then, something like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a pathology, it is a pathology of late capitalism—a consequence of being wired into the entertainment-control circuits of hypermediated consumer culture.

This affective control not only perpetuates a form of consumption but, more basically, a particular temporality. If products demand to be produced and consumed in ever-expanding contexts, they may also be adapted to durations more suitable to electronics than to what our bodies can endure. And without a doubt, the accelerated pace of disembodied consumer desire ultimately alters the basic structure of our bodies. “The consequence of being hooked into the entertainment matrix is a twitchy, agitated interpassivity, an inability to concentrate or focus.” We are plugged in. We are in the matrix. We are atrophied hunger machines.

Read the full article here.