Cronos vs Kairos. Garfield hates the eternal cyclical nature of Mondays. Early Christianity, the Eternal Eucharist, and Personal Narratives.
Permanently moved is a personal podcast 301 seconds in length, written and recorded in one hour by @thejaymo
The script below is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in audio due to time constraints.
Clock Time vs Plot Time
My dear internet friend Eriol passed away in Dec. You can read the blog post slash eulogy I wrote on hearing the news in the show notes. Today is one of those days that I wish she was still around. As I just know that she would have had something to say about today’s episode.
Originally when I woke up today I wanted to do an easy saint episode on the Saints Valentine. Instead you get a show on chronological timing vs narrative timing. And I don’t even get anywhere near explaining about the 14th of Feb.
There is a sort of person on the internet who like’s hashtag folklore Thursday, and likes to say things like ‘oh thats just a christianised pagan festival’ or that the saints are a continuation of pagan gods. They like to get very hung up on dates of things. But dates aren’t that important if you live in an enchanted world.
Back in episode 1931 on saints + souls I had to cut an in depth discussion about dates in the christian calendar. Instead I just had to leave it with that All Saints Day was originally on May the 13th. The date of the dedication of the pantheon in Rome as a church. It was later moved to Nov 1st.
It’s important to get your head around dates and time in the early christian church and ancient world. It’s the year 2020ad right now, because Christiany has an Eschatology.
We usually think of this as a “final destiny” . What’s unique about having an eschatology is you experience ALL of time as moving towards something. Which means it makes sense to count FROM something until we get to that point you are headed. The thing is, early Christians were not as hung up about the end of the world and ultimate judgement as later ones. As a new world had only just begun. With Jesus’s death and resurrection on the cross for early jews and christians the world had only just entered what Paul calls ‘New creation’ or a new age. With Jesus as the Logos. He in some sense not only powers the universe but also drives it forwards towards the eschaton. We can even still see hints of this movement forward in anno domini or ‘advancing age’.
This idea was of course all very novel and theological rather than practical. Early christians went about their days and years with a far more circular notion of time. Inside the wheel of the year as some people would say.
What’s important about thinking about a circular year is that in some sense every solstice is the same solstice. The date is useful but not *that* useful for ones day to day life. When the main clock for telling the time of year is the moon and the stars. This is what I’d call narrative timing. The story of the universe that you are embedded in. (see episode 1926 on Ritual and Storytelling).
The Greeks of course have words for these ideas. Anno Domini is Chronos. And the time and place that we are embedded in is Kairos, or right timing.
The simplest explanation I’ve heard to distinguish the two is:
- If you think of time as a flowing river which carries us along then – that’s Chronos.
- Or as a quiet lake which we swim in and watch the stars and planets turn over head – thats Kairos.
The Liturgical year calendar works in a Kairos or ‘right timing’ kind of way. Easter always falls on the First Sunday after the vernal equinox. No matter when it falls in March or April. Easter is always Easter.
And here’s the thing that’s really hard to get our head around in the modern era, but would have would have been understood by early christians and non christians alike at the time:
Every Monday or Moons day is the same Monday.
The stars overhead may change but every Monday is in some sense the same.
When Garfield says he hates Mondays he means it in the same sense. He really means Fuck Monday’s. Not fuck that Monday in particular. Fuck the Eternal Monday that comes around every 7 days after Sunday. Every Monday or Moons day is the same Monday
This still seems strange so let’s take an early christian example to really pin the eternal nature of a time and places like ‘Mondays’ down. You can still find elements of this in the Orthodox traditions – let’s look at the Eucharist.
When you go up to the altar and take holy communion you are in a Kyros sense: joining all other christians throughout time and space across history in union with Christ. You are receiving the body and blood of Christ, the force that powers the universe along with all other christians who experienced the same thing. All the saints, your ancestors, priests etc. They are all there with you, next to you, alongside you as you kneel in front of the cross.
You can see why Kairos is such a powerful idea.
I’ve also heard the difference between Chronos and Kairos as clock time and plot time.
Plot time being when things happen in a play or a story.
Kairos means that we all live inside and experience the same narratives about the world together. We are all here on Friday today and it will be the same next Friday. So why not think of them as in some sense the same Friday?
I want to do an episode on Storydwelling at some point. What it means to bring “living inside a narrative home, down to the personal level”. I’ve spoken already about one’s personal story being embedded in the stars, and now today how it kinda works with narrative in time and space. Storydwelling is about narrative and place.
But I’ll be touching on landscape, folklore and tales. Which will probably get me cancelled in some circles as those particular subjects have been so thoroughly seized by the right. But before then I’ll need to explore hyperthickness with you and I want to make an episode about the racist people angry about dev patel playing sir gawain in the new green knight film.
More to come.
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