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Time, Ethics, Intelligence

Time, Ethics, Intelligence

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Published by Ed Keller

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Published by: Ed Keller on Aug 19, 2011
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Time, Ethics, IntelligenceEd Keller : Columbia GSAPP Summer evening lecture 2003
Time, Ethics, Intelligence
Ed Keller : Columbia GSAPP Summer evening lecture 2003My grandmother used to leave me cautionary notes when she was still alive. Two that I savedwere about time:
 Always Remember: One step at the time.Time: there is little enough of it, and none to waste.
Ethics is about how to act towards other beings and things. Intelligence is what hopefullygoverns those actions. Time is what it all takes place in. My grandmother’s advice was aboutthese things. I’d like to extend it to suggest that there is a possible relationship between a veryspecial breed of time- complex time- and an evolutionary ethics. I’ll try to establish what I meanby complex temporal structures, ethics, and all this in relationship to architecture, cinema, andeveryday life.At its heart, this is a manifesto. I've been driven to search for evidence and the effects of what Iam terming 'timefolds', complex time forms, chronomorphologies, and all my diciplinaryperegrinations have orbited somehow around this attractor. My intuition has been that onecould find very definable techniques that would produce in bodies a greater propensity for awareness: since this text/manifesto is a platform I am creating for future work- my own aswell as others', I will risk it and even say- a greater propensity for kindness and growthindividually and as a culture.
 
Time, Ethics, IntelligenceEd Keller : Columbia GSAPP Summer evening lecture 2003
This position has beenexhaustively rehearsed by manywriters, artists, filmmakers, andarchitects- the most influential onmy thinking includingAlmodovar,Tarkovsky, Marker,Wong Kar Wai, Tschumi, Deleuze,Serres, and Bakhtin. I hope toshow examples that demonstratethe presence of folded time andthe value of such a time: atemporal site where a readiness for perceptual evolution has beencreated.
Richard Baily image 
Architecture is a cultural manifestation that physically externalizes certain aspects of such amemory structure, while still depending on virtual aspects of the memory to activate [ toprogram, if you will] the form itself. More recently, historically speaking, externalizations andcrystallizations of language , cinema, broadcast media and the internet have allowed muchfaster regimes to operate.I will argue that in fact there are unique chronomorphologies that exist within each of thesesubstrates- or more accurately, which are produced by these systems.Indeed, these chronomorphologies can only be understood as systems of awareness andintelligence. Awareness in that they respond to outside stimuli; intelligent, in that they becomeaware of their response, and self regulate.Implicit in the ideas of thinkers like Deleuze is the concept that linked to such a range of chronomorpologies are a range of ethics as well as simply forms.This emergent ethics- this ethology- can be measured according to the kinds of nuancedawareness that are encouraged when each system or form encounters another.Proust: The SoulThere are some passages from the openingpages of Proust's In Search of Lost Timewhich recently stunned me. I could not helpthinking of Raul Ruiz' amazing film
TimeRegained
, which cinematicallyinstrumentalizes some of the collapses of timethat Proust experienced and recorded in hisnovel.
 
Time, Ethics, IntelligenceEd Keller : Columbia GSAPP Summer evening lecture 2003
'When a man is asleep, he has in a circle round him thechain of the hours, the sequence of the years, the order of the heavenly bodies. Instinctively he consults themwhen he awakes, and in an instant reads off his own position on the earth's surface and the time that haselapsed during his slumbers; but this ordered  procession is apt to grow confused, and to break itsranks...Perhaps the immobility of the things that surround us is forced upon them by our conviction that they are themselves and not anything else, by theimmobility of our conception of them. For it alwayshappened that when I awoke like this, and my mind struggled in anunsuccessful attempt to discover where I was,everything revolved around me through the darkness:things, places, years. My body, still too heavy with sleepto move, would endeavor to construe from the pattern of its tiredness the position of its various limbs, in order todeduce therefrom the direction of the wall, the locationof the furniture, to piece together and give a name to thehouse in which it lay...Then the memory of a new  position would spring up, and the wall would slide away in another direction...’  
I have edited much of the minute detail out of this passage to get at the minimal core, which Ifind moving for two reasons. The first being itsaccuracy in depicting the fluidity of perception,identity and memory; the second beingProust’s vision that somehow, many layeringsof time could superimpose with each other inan ineffable yet completely real coexistence.What could be the mechanism for thiscoexistence? what would be theconsequences of our ascending into it, or itsdescent into us, such that more and morememories live within us?How could we sort these memories and give them meaning? What could we do if we hadaccess to a range that we normally do not? Can we accept the thesis that living bodies, or thesubstance of the earth, the sea, the sky, the sun- are actually diverse bundles of time? Andthen, what can we do with that idea?Proust is showing us from the anthropocentric point of view that there are indeed certainoverlaps of time which take place... and that there are ways of constructing a section throughthose overlaps which would be valuable. Thus, the idea is not just choosing the most valuablebundles of time and memory to preserve: but the construction of the most vital method or procedure for this storage and analysis.

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