Lipton’s Journal/February 22, 1955/664
Time. Our idea of it is very crude, for just as society has flattened the infinity of wealths through the unit of currency, so the clock chokes our appreciation of the varieties of times. The clock-present is a skin, no more, it is merely overt time, present time, an attempt to postulate a material time. Such items as the newspaper, the commodity, the mass media, TV especially, are the overt act, the social defense against the expressive. What we may say of overt time is that in the act of its birth, its presentness in relation to clock-time, it is in a deeper sense come to us from far in the past. The state of the total of emotions of all men is a far closer approximation of “present” time. Not their acts—which belong to the past, are merely fruitions of emotions and needs out of the past. Deeper in man’s unconscious sooner or later to come to consciousness is the future.
Actually there are wave phases to time, parallel expansions and contractions which bring us closer to the nature of it than the unilinear concept. As a practical example let me draw time for the writer. His present is unverbalized thought, his immediate future is the unexpressed but verbal idea. Further future is talk. Then the note. Then the article, or the finished product, and if that is ahead of the social limb of society for which it is intended, it fails to expand overtly until the “thought” of man (not the idea—that comes later with the critical evaluations) reaches it. If it is behind, if one’s thought to work progression succeeds for groups one does not wish to reach, groups who are behind the “center” of the artist’s aim, then one has created a false art-work, no more than a past product even as it was conceived as a future one.
In political economy one can see this better. Money is the unilinear adjunct of unilinear time, social time. Thus, the essential condition of individual existence which is that the relation to the “norm” on any given quality of experience we live in future time or past time—we are twenty-first century in our sex-expressions, say, and eighteenth century in our reasoning methods, or whatever, or whatever—this condition, this existentialism of living across a spectrum of time is muddied by unilinear money, for finally there is not a consumer body as such, there is rather a congery of consumer-coteries, and products which are conceived for one coterie, (one consumer-position in relation to time) often reach a coterie more to the future or more to the past relatively. The only limitation is that commodities too advanced must fail, as must commodities too far behind the most retarded consumer-coteries.