About time

John Berger – About Time


And we are now looking at this image 300 years later.

There is such a tangle of times contained within this picture that it is impossible to place the moment portrayed. Where is it? It is a moment beyond the time of clocks or calendars, and one would feel a kind of pity for somebody who therefore said it is less real.

There is no single moment in architecture. Time is mutable. Any drawing is a mixture of a past captured, interpreted and set down on a paper, and a future imagined, notional and ephemeral. Any place is an assemblage of fragments, some old and some newer and each breaking away from its place and being recaptured. The moments of creativity emerge at the moments of disjunction.


The time of the galaxies has nothing to do with the time of the butterfly, except that man observes both of them and then invents a time to place them both in. But with this time man, like no other animal, can tell the story of the creation of the world.


Man is always between two times. The brief time of his mortal body, like the tortoise, and the big story time that his mind invents, constructs. But the same mind can also deconstruct and undo, undo that time, and this happens when he remembers, when he foresees, when he listens to music, when he dreams, or when he tells stories. Once upon a time…


 (image via Prospect Magazine)