reading through a post on in the middle, specifically the part in the comments section of eileen joy's recent post on queer temporalities. regarding fucking time and time fucking you and how bodies and the touch all work into this. i'm going to keep this out of the discourse there, because having not yet read much dinshaw or sedgewick or schulz or any of the other players here, i feel like i might be missing something. but i also think that the debate there seems to be missing out on what i feel is a key line between the physical and the mental (metaphysical if you will, but i think i won't). dinshaw's short essay on touch refers to barthes' analysis of how a photograph works - all physically/mechanically. light through bouncing from objects through lenses to film, film developing into photo, finger to photo is a several-steps-away touch of the past. the revolution with the camera, assuming that there's no conscious photomanipulation, is that all of this is physical/mechanical. we can talk about this touch because there's no real mediation of the mental. now, this allows for some incredible directness when we talk about touching the past. but it also makes for a merely two-way touch - we touch the past, it touches us, along a continuum. sure, this messes up the linearity of time - time can go backwards, it can go forwards. dinshaw's touch makes this all very real. we can, in some senses, "fold" time (when i think of folding time, i am referring mostly to madeline l'engle's wonderful "a wrinkle in time" books). but there are two ways to think about such a fold. you can consider how two places along the line are brought together thanks to an ability to fold (like dinshaw), or you can consider what happens within that fold, where the time goes when it's pushed out of the two-dimensional line. this is what i was talking about below when i say that graphs give us a lovely metaphor for thinking about physical/mental space as well as linearity. consider a painting, instead of dinshaw/barthes' photograph. we have a lot of the same characteristics - light touches the objects, the paint is placed on the canvas, we can touch the paint. the key difference is the mind of the painter. the light enters the mind of the painter and... something happens that is fundamentally different from the photograph. this breaks up the beautiful physical simplicity of the touch that you get from the photograph, but also gives us another field to play in. the painter's mind gives us the ability to not just fold time, but to travel within the fold, and therefore in some senses outside of time.
so back to the "in the middle" post. in the comments, dan talks about "fucking time," and eileen worries that time can only fuck you. eileen's ideal university, though, seems to allow for both of these kinds of fucking to talk to each other. in the musée histoire, time fucks you, invariably and inevitably. in the musée fedora, though, you have imaginative space to deal with this fact, and this imaginative space i think allows for the possibility that you can imaginatively fuck time. this doesn't, of course, change the body's march towards death. but in the same way that, for example, language can invoke sense-based mental reactions that transcend what the "real" senses can experience, art can invoke body/time-based mental reactions that transcend the boundaries and strictures to which "real" bodies or time are held.
this is one of the reasons that i get all excited about dali's paranoid-critical method, in perhaps a much broader way than he intended it to function. the idea is, you learn to "see" objects with your physical body, but train your mind to distrust your senses so that that the physical object becomes merely a ground for a willed hallucinatory experience. the difference between yourself and a mad(person) at that point is... you're not mad. i think that we have to react the same way to these questions of history and time, especially as regards a history so far away from ours that we cannot even know whether we should or should not think of it as ultimately "other."
i take eileen's point about the absolute fact that time fucks you, but i also think that a major function of art, narrative, and even many kinds of semi-speculative history is that it allows you to suspend your disbelief for long enough to fuck time as though in a dream. yes, you'll wake up. but if you're changed (here's where the fine line between mental and physical becomes very strange, on the chemical level), have you not somehow brought a trace of that ability into our own temporality? there's a kind of subversion there that i think is very productive, but we're often too cynical, i think, to take it seriously.
this is also why i don't just want there to be a bridge between the eileen's musée fedora and musée histoire. i understand the need for conceptual divisions between art and history, and between artists and historians... but those divisions need to be kept fuzzy, and i think venn diagrammed together (where does the vesica pisces come into queer/historical/theological studies?) my goal is really to live in that in-between space. i.e., (perhaps in a somewhat different way, but i'm not sure) in the middle.