Posted by: Johan Normark | March 12, 2013

On temporal uniformity

”It is ironic that Derrida, the arch-postmodernist, chooses absolute temporal uniformity, and that the physicists adopt relativity” (Birth 2012:31).

For Derrida time is impossible without space. Time needs to be spatialized in order to flow. Duration means that something remains across a temporal interval and only space can remain. Without temporalization a point would not be able to remain the same as itself or to exist at the same time as another point. Hence, the simultaneity of space is a temporal notion. Derrida’s trace is therefore the co-implication of time and space. Since every temporal moment ceases it must be inscribed as a trace for it to exist (Hägglund 2011:118f).

Like other postmodernists (and modernists for that matter), Derrida is caught up in the correlationist circle and Kant’s faculties. For Kant, time and space are pure intuitions of our faculty of sensibility. In the non-anthropocentric and object-oriented perspective outlined by Harman, both time and space are tensions between objects and their qualities (along with essence and eidos). There is no longer a temporal uniformity. In fact, Harman’s time, inspired by Heidegger, means that at every moment and situation there are already preexisting objects (“the past”) that are torn in two directions. Although the objects pre-exist the situation they also obtain meaning by being referred to the potentialities of other objects. This projection is “the future,” i.e. what is added to the past (the givenness in the present) by another object (Harman 2011:56).

The irony here is that Derrida’s view of time is dependent on objects that shape temporality (clocks and calendars). He is not actually dealing with time “itself.” We all tend to make the same mistake. Archaeological chronologies are entered into a Gregorian calendar whereas the ancient Maya used another calendar to chart important events (where quite often the calendar itself set the conditions for events, such as Period Endings). However, both systems are dependent on the structure of a calendar (an object), rather than time “itself.”

Birth, Kevin K. (2012). Objects of Time: How Things Shape Temporality. Palgrave Macmillan: New York.

Harman, Graham (2011). The Quadruple Object. Zero Books, Winchester.

Hägglund, Martin (2011). Radical atheist materialism: A critique of Meillassoux. The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism, Eds, Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek, and Graham Harman. Melbourne, pp. 114-129.


  1. Sent svar från Boreas på Ark-forum

    Tråd: Brutala barnoffer i Peru:,5122.100.html

  2. Tack men jag har bestämt mig för att varken besöka eller deltaga på det forumet mer (inga andra forum heller för den delen). I min mening (och jag är inte ensam om det) är arkeologiforum som de flesta andra forum numera: ett tillhåll för amatörer, misslyckade poeter och åsikter som luktar italienskt och tyskt 1930-tal. Det är naturligtvis en grov generalisering men jag är inte särskilt intresserad av vad Boreas har att säga (han kvalar dock inte in i den senare kategorin i varje fall)…

  3. How is Harman not anthropocentric when he presumes and is against “overmining” and “undermining” objects which presumes a level – homo sapien – of measurement whilst he eschews measurement?

  4. How is atomism necessary assuming the human level for measurement? Harman sets the object as the level of measurement, nothing above or below (apart from other objects of course).

    • Johan, but Harman talks about ‘it’ the object from his prospective, aren’t we falling into the humanisation of objects that Latour did when he assumed that ‘viewers’ in Einstein’s theory of relativity needed to be people?

      • Harman states that his OOP is a radicalization of weak correlationism so it must have some connection to that position in any case. As far as I can tell he and other OOO emphasizes that there are many correlates not just the subject-object but also chair-floor, sun-earth, etc. Following Bogost here I would say that “our” anthropocentric correlate is just as “centric” as the other correlates. It is nothing different in kind.


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