The Metaphysical Shapes of Time


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189 in stock


By Kelly Brown

ISBN: 978-1-84747- 492-6
Published: 2007
Pages: 63
Key Themes: fiction, unhappiness, mental health treatment and abuse, philospophy



‘What shape is time, is it a circle or a line?
What sound is the wind, is it a howl, a curl or a hiss?
‘And my being, who am I really, When I am so close to hand but so hard to know?’
Primo-Conti 1978

Primo Levi and his book “the drowned and the saved” was the starting point for my thinking for ‘The metaphysical shapes of time’. Many writers commentated that his survival became his suffering, with the constant ‘why me’. I was sure if I believed but I wanted to look at survival as offering us possibility. They say time is a healer, but I have found that memories never let you forget, and that time spins us back to moments of remembrance. ‘What shape is time, is it a circle or a line? When September encroaches and we remember the September when we loved, or losses, the colours of the leaves, the hiss of the wind as it blows against those same leaves. What sound is the wind, is it a howl, a curl or a hiss? Our minds battle to understand whether time is circular or linear, September comes around again and again, each laying on top of the other in a richness that linear time has no awareness of, yet we can never step on the same path again, the actual now is never the same, even in Déjà vu there is the added sense of knowing.

I have never forgotten Heidegger for given language to the universal problem how can we not know who we are, how can we not understand our relationship to the world, when we are here, so close, there could be nothing closer. ‘And my being, who am I really, When I am so close to hand but so hard to know?’ Yet Heidegger somehow was connected to something so inhumane, I am left with an enormous question, how can someone who knows so much about being became connected to something that sought to eradicate so many beings Jewish, blacks, radicals, gypsies and disabled people and so many others considered to be detrimental to a functional Europe? When you know so much about humanity how can you not see the humanity of others? We must be interested in each others stories, and fiction is a perfect way to do this as we can distil some many aspects of people’s experiences into to characters we invent.

Two stories, two versions of time. Joi’s story is his journey along the path of the optimist as he moves from the suffering of the disappearance of his parents to the hope that he finds in painting-the love he has from Isabelle and the courage from her Grandfather Primo-Conti. Isabelle dances to the circles of love that surround her, and learns early in life that recurrence in the most significance aspect of time. When these two very different paths connect there is the prospect of great possibility. But tragic events centering around Treviso in Italy reveal that there is a cult, the eden dream project, which is sinisterly connected to the nazi and fascist survivors of the second world war. Through Phillip Marx they have made the project to have a perfect society a utopian nightmare. Isabelle finds herself involved in the cult and Joi has to dig deep inside himself to find the courage to help Isabelle escape and uncover the sinister secrets of Treviso. He finds hidden his tragic childhood the seeds of possibility for strength, friendship and tremendous courage.

About the Author

Kelly is a philosopher, artist and writer. She writes articles, fiction, poetry and created photography and performances about the metaphysical aspects of existence, particularly space and time. Kelly studied philosophy at Middlesex in 1989-92 with Jonathan Ree and specialised in European philosophy and phenomenology. Kelly ten spent six years working with people looking for a practical application to life. In 1998 Kelly had a nervous breakdown and this had both positive and negative aspects. Kelly refers to it as her ‘spiritual break’, in the way that Joni Mitchell refers to her Blue album. Positively it allowed Kelly to find like minded people through going to Hospital. The negative aspects relate to how sadness and loss are pathologised as illness. Kelly’s book the metaphysical shapes of time deals with the negative aspects, as the main character find’s himself in hospital just for loss and sadness. More positively however Kelly was able to gain an MA in Fine art, specialising in photography and performances. This was cathartic but also a way of tackingly how lonely and isolating an activity writing can be. Art is much more sociable and looking at something is so much more accessible than writing, something that you can get an immediate response to. The metaphysical shapes of time started at Lynne Clayton’s writing workshop in 2004, a writing group specifically for people who have experienced mental distress. It helped Kelly to deal with the darkness that inhabited her mind, questions such as why so much cruelty?

Book Extract

Many times my elders have said that Heaven, earth, hell are all in the same place. Sometimes I know this to be true, but sometimes I hope it’s not. Sometimes I hope that there is an Eden time place that we’ve come from, that we long for, that we will return to- all of us.

First, when we realized the truths of science the world seemed so very, very small. Before we believed that if we could extend our travel into heaven we could go further, that our space would feel greater and greater. Yet the more we travel the smaller everything appears. Semantics shapes science. Flat, round, it is language that shapes our perception. Depending those perceptions we can see heaven, earth or hell, what we are and where we are. Some people see angels hover, others see lost confused drifting souls, others nothing but suffering and cruelty, but we are not allowed to speak about what we see and feel since Science dictates our truths, pretending to be about beyond – Yet there is no beyond.

It was safer for us when we thought of the world as energy. Of spirit and energy, when we thought of everything as flat and just beyond Greece was the edge of the world- Now that we have discovered that space is not about extension but about existence: Now that we have realized that everything is already here, mapped on-top in layers upon layers and that there is no need to go very far, are we ready for our first real conversation?

“So Joi are you Joyful?” Isabelle with her childlike laugh.

“Sometimes…now especially” said Joi his eyes shining with familiarity and hope.

From birth there is no escape as we fall into the arbitrary pool of language. Here our miscommunication dwells. We exchange names, which are sounds without concrete meanings. Encased in so many whys without answers. He cuts through the confusion because his name is Joi, a real name of real emotion. Joy, that blissful gliding feeling- moments where time is forgotten, our cheeks bright, our eyes shiny. These feelings we all know. Names, How is it that we retained the sound but lost the meanings? So basic- so fundamental: If we could know each other by our first whisper. I am that which sounds of, and then ‘arrhhh- that makes so much sense’. Instead we struggle to remember, and we the named struggle to know ourselves. Imagine a language of names, where everything had a concrete reality, an immediate visual, feeling or presence, not arbitrary sounds. Then we would need nothing else but names, silence and compassion.

From inside the cold box room of Dr Hart’s office the window, Joi gazed at a point just outside the window and witnessed September becoming October; the inevitable hibernation encroaching. The trees, some solid with green, but most yellow and brown as though burnt by the sun, or perhaps missing. Pining their losses, scattered beneath his certain feet. His mind wandering towards the oddity of Crystal Palace Park, with its ninetieth century relics of stone lions, pillars and epic staircases and odd labyrinth… Joi liked walking , the activity left him feeling free without worries. He loved to feel the wind on his face and the ground bouncy beneath his feet. He liked moving on, beyond, not standing still. In the long continuum that is life, beyond the absurdity of waking, sleeping and each fresh day, there are pivotal moments. Most of these moments we store as memory snap shots. Like the first love moment in childhood, all innocent adoration and romantic visualization. Self story telling elevating us above the mundane. But then there are the much un-kinder moments when you realize through that stark quiet that you are, and will always be alone. Unlike in Noah’s Ark all our loved and cherished ones didn’t arrive together in the same moment on the same boat. You and I, all of us, came here alone, on a one-way ticket. This truly is our deepest sadness. These moments of realization are like having your eyes opened, they make you dizzy. You feel that you want to lay down, never get up. But then gratefully we can see that they give purpose to the continuum, that is existence. Before these moments you were here but as without being. Unquestioned, unquestioning. Then in an instance all the paths open up, decisions have to be made, and there is a realization the reality is like a pudding, one minute gooey doe and then a hard chocolate biscuit, and you need to get to know yourself really well in order to keep aside the panic. Long enough too navigate the labyrinth successfully.

Inside Joi was lost, but happy. On the other hand was feeling very dizzy, he had found the centre. With this discovery all the memories flooded back, and he had to lie down just so he could maximise the solidity, to feel safe. “So Joi”, said David hart interrupting Joi’s reverie, “Isabelle, have you seen her again”?


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