When we imagine and envision our future as individuals or as a collective, various aspects and dimensions come into play. The classic philosophy on the undetachable relationship between subject-object has become more meaningful and significant especially in the way we–as humans–connect with its duality. Instead of associating with just one, we readily agree to the agency and context of both as inseparable. In fact, the hidden dimensions of space and time intertwine with phenomena and more importantly, with the state of our being–and of our existence.
Deep-diving into these realms, we explore facets of our personhood as we lodge ideas–discovering new concepts and constructs while rediscovering old ones. One after another, we would detonate the bombshells that explosively reveals our true humanity within the context of our future universe.
From this gamut, we focus on the temporal nature of everything that surrounds us. Quite often, the concepts–rather, the constructs of Time vs Temporality have eternally been studied and challenged. They have been highly-interpreted, compared, stamped, dissected, and sometimes even frozen–but never fully-understood. Our individual and cultural definitions of time and the temporalities of our histories and visions dramatically differ and while this may be the case since the beginning of humankind and of the universe, we have all been, consciously being, and will undoubtedly be bound by the same element of time.
Interchangeably, these terms refer to the moments in progression (temporality) and how we make sense of them as solitary episodes (as measured in time). We should however, be cautious and careful in distinguishing one from the other. The temporality of anything–that is, the momentary progression of its being–can be better understood and appreciated with the use of time elements–to measure the duration and the specific record of occurrence in numerical terms. The value and meaning of these two vary complicatedly across physical regions and social cultures–yet, they are commonly shared as a universal thought.
More excitingly, we gravitate to as we dwell on its triangulation:
- PAST> What was THEN?
- PRESENT> What is NOW?
- FUTURE> What would be NEXT?
How much do we know about our temporalities? The German institution Freie Universität Berlin, globally-recognized for its interdisciplinary work within research alliances, has pursued important studies in seeking better understanding on this matter. They have setup their own International Research Training Group (IRTG) which primarily aims ‘to offer a new perspective on the study of temporalities of the future in social and cultural sciences. Part of IRTG’s agenda is ‘to reorient investigations towards a better understanding of global entanglements and the meaning of cultural heterogeneity’. Deliberately, the research group chose Latin America as their primary example for both aspects.
Their research framework focuses on the encompassing theme of Anticipations and Aspirations and are organized along these investigations:
Referring to the ‘experts on the past’, this set of actors may consist of historians, philosophers, and thinkers who have painstakingly sought explanations as they revolutionized thinking and visioning during their time–now considered, as they have emerged to become, the ‘authorities of the future’. Whether individuals, groups, or institutions, these so-called ‘Protagonists of the Future’ are entrusted and empowered to act beyond the local–now even crossing transregional and supranational contexts of shaping ideas about how we anticipate and what we aspire for our worlds.
Largely driven by a set of expectations, the projections into the future remain contextual and creative–fueled by fantasies, dreams, wishes, and desires–at times celebrating utopian ideas in order to truly ‘break through the glass ceiling’, so to speak.
Recognizing and respecting the processes and systems in any given society or civilization determines the thinking direction which is essential in realizing their aspirations. The operational aspects by which they formulate new policies and rules governing their social and cultural norms influence the success of their visions of the future–undeniably dependent on the starting point of ideation to its full fruition through implementation.
How does IRTG actually want us to understand their Temporalities of Future? Recognizing time (like space) as a primordial aspect of our human existence, we are challenged to define and make sense of it–despite its intangible reality. Simply put, they want us to savor our role as ‘brewers of time’–in that we, as human beings, arrange, develop, discuss, and organize our own idea of time following our own unique socio-cultural belief and value systems.
What questions should we be asking now?–about the past and in anticipation of our future worlds? Borrowing ideas from the IRTG research project and applying them into our own geographical contexts, we may begin to reflect on some of these research questions that lists key points imperative for us to raise as we ask:
- How have aspirational and anticipative practices shaped social life in our history and how do they do so in the present?
- How do people interpret, shape, and influence approaching uncertainties, unpredictable events, and inscrutable processes?
- How do people act, in turn, when the future seems entirely certain (surrender, wait, or fight)?
- Who were and are the protagonists defining the future? What are their projections into the future?
- How do different concepts of time interact or conflict in ethnically heterogeneous societies of our location?
What is your personal definition of time? How do you project yourself to be based on how you view your past? Can you now better identify and describe your temporal being?
Cover Photo by Matt Hardy