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Time Passing: Modernity and Nostalgia / Edition 1

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Overview

What do we mean when we say time passes? How do contingency and anachronism and other philosophical concepts bearing on time affect the more (seemingly) concrete realities of our political and cultural lives? In ways small and great, personal and cultural, we all experience the mutability of time. We feel it expand and contract, speed up and slow down, as it bends to the imperatives of memory, money, and the media. In our own time (itself a pregnant phrase) we have witnessed a disengagement with the past even as technological advances have allowed us to capture and reproduce past time as never before. How are we to make sense of this paradox?

In this wide-ranging meditation on the meaning of time, Sylvaine Agacinski weaves together discussions of Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Freud, Heidegger, Baudelaire, Barthes, and especially Walter Benjamin -- her model for the modern "passer of time" -- as she traces a time line of the philosophy of time. After examining how shifting attitudes toward the passage of time have affected everything from art criticism to the development of photography to the rise of modernism itself, Agacinski concludes by proposing a rethinking of democracy that emphasizes patience in the face of our current temporal frenzy.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Agacinski's essayistic style shifts focus from the metaphysics of temporality via the aesthetic status of photography, to the politics of mass media... Recommended.

Modern Age - Bryce Christensen

a remarkably candid and provocative assessment...probing analysis

Le Monde

Starting from the observation that 'passing' has become our way of being, that henceforth everything seems impermanent and unstable, Sylviane Agacinski tries to clarify from many different perspectives 'the ethic of the ephemeral' of this age, so elusive because it is transient and ungrounded. Along the way, she invents a style for her reflections that is both fresh and spare, and leads effortlessly from metaphysics to politics, passing through an original analysis of the aesthetic that belongs to photography.

Choice

Agacinski's essayistic style shifts focus from the metaphysics of temporality via the aesthetic status of photography, to the politics of mass media... Recommended.

Modern Age
a remarkably candid and provocative assessment...probing analysis

— Bryce Christensen, Southern Utah University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Sylviane Agacinski teaches at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris. She is the author of Parity of the Sexes (Columbia, 2001) and Aparte: Conceptions and Deaths of Søren Kierkegaard. Cited in the New Yorker as one of the most influential women in France, she has in recent years played a pivotal role in the feminist parité movement that has swept her country.Jody Gladding's translations include The Devil's Cloth (Columbia) by Michel Pastoureau and As Night Follows Day by Pierre Moinot. She is a poet and the author of Stone Crop.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

The Western HourPassageTests of TimeThe Retreat of the EternalMovementUn passeur de temps: Walter BenjaminThe Time of ImagesHistorical Polemic: The Modernity of PhotographyThe Epoch of PhantomsAnachronisms of Art: Style and MediumPolitical TimePatience and DemocracyMedia Time

Columbia University Press

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