Real Time: The Instant of My Death
AbstractThis article broaches a critique of the modern understanding of time, and of how it underwrites the modern account of politics, via an interrogation of the way modern “real time” figures death. Comparing and contrasting different accounts of time and politics, from Plato through Augustine to Kant, the article explores how modern politics is a politics of permanent emergency premised upon the immediacy of real time and its spurious attempt to efface death. Seeking an alternative account of politics, it argues that such a politics requires a different account of both death and time. It takes its inspiration from an exchange between Derrida and Blanchot over Blanchot's near-death experience at the hands of a German firing squad towards the end of the Second World War. Here Blanchot's experience of a “lapse of time” irreducible to real time illustrates a living instant in time dissociated from the emergency of real time.