New Criticals

It is uncanny to see our bodies, which for the most part remain unnoticed, “ready-to-hand,” as objects, as “present-at-hand,” because in experiencing our bodies as objects, we are experiencing that part of us that is dependent, finite, that part of us that will eventually die. Part of the anxiety of a medical check up is the foregrounding of our bodies not as free subjects, but as observable objects, living corpses. Part of the sickness of being obsess with looks is that we turn our living bodies into dead things to be, like a corpse, scrutinized, made-up, surgically altered. During the one o’clock hour, there is a scene where Glenn Close inspects the skin on her wrist (near her watch)—she frets about age. Her partner reassures her, “It’s skin. It’s supposed to bunch up.” She replies, “But it’s the way it bunches.” The anxiety of seeing our own decay, our own non-being—do we flee this fact or do we face it resolutely?

A similar analysis can be made of time. When we are "in" time, caught up in its continuity, we experience it very differently depending on the activity that is occurring. Time with a lover is not time with a bore. Time anticipating something desirous is not the same time waiting for something that is dreadful. Like a complex origami crane, Time often folds in on itself in paradoxical ways, a shorter time being experienced as longer ("That was last week? It seemed like a month ago!") and longer times being experienced as shorter ("It seems like your last birthday was just yesterday!"). It is uncanny to really stop and think about time, to make time "present-at-hand." Augustine says, "What then is time? If no one asks me, I know: if I wish to explain it to one that asks, I know not."