PRINT December 2018


Omar Kholeif

I have always been obsessed with the concepts around, and notions of, time. This is because time makes me anxious. In our current age of relentless speed, technology and its platforms are faster than we can keep up with, and more efficient than ever, and yet time is ever seeping through our hands. A real sufferer of FOMO, I am always left wanting more. Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time (Riverhead) is a small but profound book that I have repeatedly returned to over the past few months, and it continues to impact my thinking. Rovelli deconstructs the “crumbling of time,” as he describes it, and traces how the temporal materializes. Time has a heat—an agency—that is beyond the unit of calculation; it is physical, even bodily. He interrogates the nature of the past: Is it fixed, and if so, how does it relate to a future that is open? With references ranging from Albert Einstein to Rainer Maria Rilke, The Order of Time oscillates between poetry and histories of political rebellion; philosophy hangs out with theoretical physics and thermodynamics. Rovelli questions vision, nature, and memory, illuminating everything in our neurological pathways, and how they in turn create nostalgia and longing for what has passed. In the end, I have come to believe that time may be not only what we most crave, but also what we most fear for the heaviness it leaves behind.

Omar Kholeif is a writer, curator, and broadcaster based in London. He is the cocurator of “Leaving the Echo Chamber,” the Fourteenth Sharjah Biennial.