Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Future Perfect/The Present Lost

Any kind of resistance to our present condition here in Britain must attempt to forge a relationship to time that does not assume the future perfect form of we will have been...

The grotesque projections of our main political parties - of One Nation, of The Big Society - amount to nothing less than an effort to annihilate the present, by urging us to anticipate a time when we will have been...at a street party for the birth of our future king, out sweeping the leaves on our street with a band of neighbour-brothers, waving our troops off to some meaningful fight, welcoming our team home from some olympic feat...The tactic is genius, bringing utopianism in line with nostalgia, coopting gritty determination and cup-cake regret in a pincer offense against now.

And the tactic goes unnoticed because it operates from the bottom up, not simply from Westminster down. We photograph the birthdays that will have been wonderful; we video the weddings that will have been special; we minute the meetings that will have been right on message; we write the books that will have been misunderstood; and we raise the child who will have been the most important thing in my life. The pathological mediation of these, our times, does not work simply by placing a screen between us and these, our times: it transports these, our times, into a future that does not proceed from them, in order to bury these, our times, in a past that does not precede them. Which causes "these, our times" to lose its reference...

In her reply to T. J. Clark's "For A Left With No Future," Susan Watkins issues a challenge to Clark's call for the Left to attend to the present, by observing that "the present itself, as a political moment, can only be grasped through its periodization; a process of differentiation that necessarily posits a future as well as a past." But this is the "necessary process" that must now be overthrown, for it is precisely the process through which the present itself, as a political moment, can never be grasped...

In grammar, a tense is a category that locates a situation in time. But the future perfect tense would lose our situation in these, our times. We must cease to hope and cease to regret...

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