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Time’s entanglements: Beauvoir and Fanon on reductive temporalities
journal contributionposted on 2023-01-25, 00:55 authored by Marilyn StenderaMarilyn Stendera
AbstractSimone de Beauvoir and Frantz Fanon both argue that oppression fundamentally constrains the subject’s relationship to and embodied experience of time, yet their accounts of temporality are rarely brought together. This paper will explore what we might learn about the operation of different types of reductive temporality if we read Beauvoir and Fanon alongside each other, focusing primarily on the early works that arguably lay out the central concerns of their respective temporal frameworks. At first glance, it seems that these two models of temporality have radically different emphases. While Beauvoir suggests that reductive temporalities work to sever the future from the past and present, Fanon locates this destructive operation in the heightening of their entanglement. However, I will contend that there are deep affinities between these accounts: For both Beauvoir and Fanon, freedom is bound up with futurity, with its lack therefore cashed out in terms of stagnation, repetition, and the entrapment within a hollow moment that prevents authentic projection. Both resist teleological perspectives; problematize the endeavor to describe the structures of lived temporality in neutral terms; and show that temporality is crucial to the pursuit of a political phenomenology. These resonances, however, should only serve to recast rather than dissolve the tension between their approaches; ultimately, we need to acknowledge the distinctiveness of their differing concerns and aims.