Feb 27, “Time,” begins the introduction to Chronotypes, “belongs to a handful of focuses on the cultural and historical construction of “chronotypes,” or. Title: Chronotypes: The construction of time; Date Created/Published: Medium: 1 item. Reproduction Number: –; Rights Advisory: Rights status not. Jul 1, The Paperback of the Chronotypes: The Construction of Time by John Bender at Barnes & Noble. FREE Shipping on $ or more!.

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Thee Courses Discussion Groups. The Construction of Time. Ernst Schulin remarks in the concluding discussion: This is remarkably true for a broad segment of historians in Germany after It is hardly the case of the historians in the s.

Setting aside Karl-Dietrich Bracher, chrpnotypes held a chair of political science, scholarly cinstruction of the Nazi past was pursued mainly outside the discipline, for example, in the Institute ths Contemporary History in Munich. Cnstruction the Institute, by restricting itself to the period afteravoided the critical examination of the German past which the social historians of politics undertook after Contributors to this volume, whichgrew out of a conference at Stanford ininclude historians Dominick LaCapra, Jonathan Z.

Like other recent collections which share this emphasis on the uniquely “transdisciplinary” nature of time,’ John Bender and David Wellbery’s collection focuses on the human rather than the physical sciences, and within this category on the problem or theme of narrative.

This, at least, is the assumption of the essays gathered here” 3. Studies of time and cheonotypes should have special interest for historians. What kinds of stories do particular “chronotypes” allow or force us to tell? In their focus on narrative most of these essays also reflect a distinctly “postmodern” sensibility, in that they treat time as one of a number of central concepts- constrkction “freedom,” or “the individual,” or “value”-that have been increasingly.

The Familiar Stranger, ed. The book further reflects postmodernism’s dissatisfaction with binary oppositions, and its ten- dency to attack teh between oral and written, cause and effect, actor and acted upon, subject and object. Critiques that historicize the familiar distinction between subjective and objective time anchor this project. Newton’s vision of objective time-“absolute, true, and mathematical time, [that] of itself, and from its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external”‘- here becomes merely a particularly influential chronotype rather than an intrinsic, fundamental quality of the natural world.

Rejecting this ideal of a consistent, quantifiable time, the authors also reject the traditional split between subjective and objective time it establishes -the difference between lived or experienced, “subjective” time in ordinary life and the abstract, “equably flowing” objective time Newton imagined.

Gayatri Spivak, in “Time and Timing: Law and History,” and Johannes Fabian, in “Of Dogs Alive, Birds Dead, and Time to Tell a Story,” examine how Western culture has isolated supposedly distinct attitudes about time as the source of the difference between itself and other cultures. Spivak critiques Hegel’s analysis of temporality in chrpnotypes Srimadbhagavadgita as a misreading in the service of colonialism, later adopted by Indian nationalists themselves in their quest for independence.

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Fabian, extending his Time and the Other,4 calls the anthropologist’s project chronotyeps describing “conceptions of time” in other cultures an artificial attempt to create distance between author and subject.

The ethnog- rapher, he insists, always shares the time of the people or studied firsthand. Prestigious Origins Again,” attacks the truism that “linear,” forward moving time is unique to the Judeo- Chronogypes tradition. On the rise and decline of Newtonian absolute time see Donald J. Wilcox, The Measure of Times Past: For an example of an argument about the cyclical nature of pre-Christian time see John G. Cornelius Chronotyoes essay, “Time and Chronottypes perhaps the most ambitious of the essays in scope, makes kf provoca- tive comparison between “difference” and “otherness” that in many ways estab- lishes the ground for the essays that follow it.

It offers an interesting framework for historical speculation. Difference is then “producible” by the operations of abstract reasoning. The Iliad and The Castle are not different fhronotypes are other. A horde of baboons and human society are other” New forms, new modes of understanding, appear over time. Instead he points out that they constantly intermingle in ordinary constructoon. Recognizing any new “form” as a form at all dhronotypes that it have some degree of seemingly abstract law governing it, a set of rules which make its components recognizable: Though he argues that attempts to define time have ignored the “social historical” dimension, by which I assume he means the commingling of “difference and otherness” in historical time, Castoriadis offers few examples.

Historical examples chroontypes help clarify the point. Recognizing “the Anglo-Saxon race” as a distinct form, for example, requires a set of standard terms and laws which can be imagined to produce it -laws of genetics, of self interest, of sexual selection and “natural” preference. The logic of racial thinking itself cronotypes towards this kind of ahistorical sense of differ- ence. A racist would first seek to establish what traits make an “Anglo-Saxon,” then screen out impurities so that only these desirable traits are reproduced.


The final, impossible triumph of this racism would be identical Anglo-Saxons whose only difference comes from the fact that they occupy different points in time or space-the chronotypss possibility of the difference of the identical,” as Castori- adis puts it. In the historical discourse about the “Anglo-Saxon race” we see the emergence of a new form of “otherness” which acts as if it is a difference- that is, which presents itself as reflecting laws with predictable and producible results in the same way that subtracting eight from ten produces a difference of two.

But what caused the “Anglo-Saxon race” form to emerge? Castoriadis ends with a sharp critique of cause and effect, the bread and butter of much historical analysis. Cause and effect implies reversibility, he says, which physics now denies and which further would be ahistorical and thus more properly the realm of difference.

But the mythology did not cause the polis-it was not the necessary and sufficient condition for it even if supplemented by any number of other conditions ; neither can we, or anybody, derive the one from the other, in either sense” The influence of Foucault, with his notorious and provocatively sloppy disregard for cause and effect, seems clear here. Castoria- dis’s point is that strict notions of cause and effect imply reversibility and law. They subject the emergence of new forms- otherness -to conditions that prop- erly belong to “difference,” and they offer an illusion of objective time in a multiple and unhomogeneous world.

Though he seems to conflate time and history, Castoriadis argues against a history comprehensible in terms of causal laws. Instead he argues for a history composed of attempts to impose laws of difference construcrion the emergence of otherness. Until relatively late in the twentieth century, historians chronotypse been able to comfortably imagine historical change as occurring in the sense of difference- in an imaginary abstract field of time in which two identical things are different only because they occupy different points in the past.

For example, concepts like “class conflict” or “self-interest” could until relatively recently be imagined as both consistent, in that they had a universal applicability and were in their constructiom basic meaning identical in all times, and different, because the historian could view them in different eras, like two identical Anglo-Saxons occupying different points in space.

Instead, like the essayists in Chronotypes, historians have become increasingly concerned with historicizing “otherness” and its ideological and technological apparatus. But while we might be willing to reject the idea that the concept of race we inherited from the nineteenth century reflects a digerence producible by law, we are generally less willing to abandon the relation of cause and effect. Castoriadis’s essay recalls Hayden White’s analysis in Critical Inquiry, of the difference between narrative and history.

White described a medieval annals -a list of years, with some years accompanied by brief notes like “good crops,” or “flood gime or chronotyppes fought against the Saxons” and other coonstruction left unremarked. The spontaneous appearance of floods, bumper crops.

White called the desire to make this bumptious chaos act with the predictability of difference “the fantasy that real events are properly represented when they can be shown to display the formal coherency of a story. Consyruction White’s medieval annalist, “it is the ‘Lord’ whose ‘years’ are treated as manifestations of his power to cause the events which occur in them.

For the annalist, time belonged to God.

But for the past three hundred years, that “metaphysical principle” has been objective time. Objective time triumphed in the late nineteenth century in the form of stan- dard time zones. Before the Civil War, each city, town, and village kept its own local time, usually derived from the subjective experience of local noon as the sun passed overhead.

This multiplicity of times posed no special problem when watches were scarce and communication relatively slow. But innovations like the telegraph highlighted the fact that noon in New York came roughly an hour ahead of noon in Cincinnati. The lack of a common standard made New York and Cincinnati “other,” at least in a commercial sense -there were no clear terms by which to regulate interaction between them as with, to recall Castoriadis’s example, the Iliad and The Castle.

Standardizing national time would instead make the two cities “different,” both occupying a unified field of time in which transactions could be made more predictable and consistent.


Standard public time established an abstract plain for synchronizing com- merce. It offered a new set of apparently objective priorities-the needs of business, and science-in place of subjective local experience. It also made possible the new narratives of efficiency constructed by scientific management.

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Mitchell Chicago,4, Landes, Revolution in Time: Taylor, which could treat all kinds of work as “different” rather than other -could see carpenters, bricklayers, and weavers as all following the same rules, different from one another in the same way as different mathematical quantities or different cities in a scheme of standard time.

Taylor took specific work processes, broke them into their component parts, sorted out the “nonproductive” motions, and recombined the remainder into a “standard time” for doing the job. He timed each aspect of a worker’s job with a stopwatch until he derived an apparently objective, scientific, “standard time” for doing the job. Then he repeated the process for an entire plant, until the whole factory ran literally like a clock.

All work, insisted one of Taylor’s disci- ples, was finally reducible to a set of sixteen fundamental elements. For partisans of scientific management like Taylor, using standard time as the abstract space for measuring all things promised to “restore the individual” in the most fundamental way imaginable- as an irreducible difference subject to scientific law. Prior to scientific management, workers might be compared to cells in a body working in concert but limited to the specific form they comprised and likely to be useless or dead outside it; they were “other” to management in the same way as skin cells to neurons.

Taylorism made it possible to see each worker as having a genuine, discrete, and irreducible identity, in the same way as a cog in a machine. Just as each cog has a certain number of teeth, and a certain diameter, so each worker has a certain set of capabilities that he or she is best at by nature. Individual cogs can work in different machines, but they cannot be modified without making them something different.

Individual workers may be set to many tasks, but without scientific management these may only be distortions of their true nature. Recognizing its tendency to completely disempower its subjects, they have rightly deplored it as a particu- larly brutal manifestation of industrial capitalism.

But this critique misses the utopian, radically individualist thrust of standard time, or rather fails to recog- nize the new formulation of individual and mass -“differencev and “other,” to use Castoriadis’s terms -that standardized time allowed. The form of narrative Taylor used -editing and recombination of subjective time in an abstract, objective field-characterized both work and leisure in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The earliest motion pictures were conceived either as documentary -spectac- ular representations of the real world “as it really is”-or as illusionistic exten- sions of the magician’s stage show.

They might show either things like trains entering stations, or people walking on the street, or Dewey sailing into Manila Bay, or they might show rabbits appearing out of hats, or people flying through the air, or animals transforming themselves into objects. In the first mode they offered documents of real life in the real, subjective time of ordinary experience, while in the second they removed themselves into a fantasy world where time was suspended altogether.

Some of the earliest “story films” are so respectful of the temporal and spatial continuity of subjective time that they make almost no sense to modern viewers. For example, Edwin S. Porter’s Life of an American Fireman depicted the rescue of a woman from a burning building twice -once from inside the room, and once from outside -instead of intercutting between the two scenes of action as a modern director would.

The viewer sees the interior of a burning room, and a fireman breaking down the door and carrying the woman out the window. Then he crhonotypes she sees a house with smoke pouring from a window, and a fireman entering the house.

Then the fireman appears at the window, and carries the woman out ihe window and down a ladder. The two kf of action are “other” in Porter’s film -each has its own “chronotype,” its own time frame, and Porter either could not or would not reorder them in an abstract field of objective time. But as the movies developed their modern “vocabulary,” their modern narrative. On the relationship between American culture and scientific management see Cecelia Consyruction, Shifling Gears: