time & time

Dies Solis

Luna wn 10% v

Varying experiences of time flow in the studio & out, and why I’ve found it so difficult to get myself in there when I don’t have at least a 4 hour period-whole day to be there.

I use the terms clock time and event time to describe two ways of navigating mind through any given period of time as they were used in Robert Levine’s “A Geography of Time”. While his book is an exploration of how different cultures perceive and  move through time in different ways, concepts he describes are useful when applied to personal time perception and use.

Event-time is a process and participant centered way of approaching doing something. It is the “it takes as long as it takes'” approach. Things start when they do, and depending on what is encountered in the duration (much room for exploration/encounters with the unexpected/digressions), and end when a good conclusion point is intuited and brought about. There is space for the environment and object of work to be a more active participant in the working, space for change of plan, space for meditation on any part of the process anywhere necessary.

Clock time is the more familiar, much regimented manner of assigning tasks particular periods of time in which to get them done. Start on time, end on time, move on ontime. Nesting tasks in smaller units of time within larger segments, within overarching themes for the day. What is in other sources called “time discipline”, though I’d prefer to call it “clock discipline” as I think that’s more accurate. I am pretty good at this one too. In some ways, my job is all about this (plus integrating with the fairly complex time and task schemes of others to achieve the goal of show production).

The difficulty comes in in crossing the border between these two countries. Becoming more aware of what kind of time/mindset I need to do certain things well (and get them done)is the kind of self-knowledge I’ve been tracking for quite a while now, and finally feel like I am practicing an approach that works.

In an even more micro scale, I am already familiar with these shifts as every ritualist ought to be in manipulating changes in consciousness for magic and celebration of the Mysteries – important to be able to both get there and to get back to reality! It’s the first thing any magician ought to learn, really, if for no other reason than safeguarding mental heath.

One scale-step up, they also show up (culturally) in stereotypes of how Pagans organize and use their ritual & social time as compared to how ceremonialists do. Anyone familiar with “Pagan Standard Time” will know just what contrast I mean.

My hesitation to get in there and use an hour where I have it, or even a half-hour, is based on feeling like it would take too much time to prepare/set up equipment to be worth that actual working time available. I’ve eliminated that actuality of this by organizing my studio well. The real issue is how long it takes me to shift my mindset, based on the assumption that I can only use event-time sized blocks of time for making artwork.

Determining what kinds of tasks are done best in what kind of time helps. Design, pattern-making, and some sculptural parts require the increased freedom and flexibility of event-time and a bigger block  of the day in the schedule. More room for the unknown and for correction, for drafts. These activities require a groove, and leaving the groove means not being able to return to that particular groove. You can get back to another groove, but not that one.

Cutting, fabrication, well-determined shaping and roughing, and processes like etching and inlay that have well-known time requirements for setup, execution, and cleanup work fine in clock time since the estimate of time it’ll take is predictable. A lot of those can be broken up into small chunks of technical exercises and be done in an hour or less.  Convincing myself that this works and is ok has been harder than dealing with event-time activities in those sessions. These activites also feel a lot more like exercises, like practice than pure creation, and who wouldn’t prefer to spend most of their time in the latter state?

All kinds of fantasies of artistic brilliance spring from floating around in event time too much, and a whole lot of poorly executed art. The stupidly simple truth is playing scales makes you a better player, doing those hated daily life drawings makes you a better artist and a better navigator of event time when you are fortunate enough to get some. Duh.

I am learning to love the exercises and to love stealing a half-hour or hour when I can to cut one piece, to solder one joint, or to copy one set of patterns to their template material. Clock-time begins to expand, and to feel more satisfying and full because I can truly be present without worrying “will I have enough time to do this?”. Rotation of several pieces in progress helps, as there’s a greater chance that the next step on one of them will be a specific task of short duration, executing a design element already worked out in a previous event-time session. The unexpected is still present, but fairly minimized.

So now I do not have to wait for summer/time off in order to say “now I’ll really get some things done!” The work and the Work are becoming more of a continuum as I’d always hoped. And by no means an undifferentiated one- each part of the day and night retains its own richness in the various types of encounters it presents. I am just with-it enough now to be able to notice them all without getting lost in one or two.

I’m feeling that words may not be expressing what I intend very well here. It does feel, happily, like a very good thing to be figuring out, though.