Perpetual Calendar, 1594, Cooper-Hewitt Collection

The view out my window is no different than it was a few days ago in 2019.  It is a rebuke to all this fuss about the ‘new year.’  I’m not really sure why we need to break the year up into chapters. I suppose the obvious reason is death. In contrast to nature’s cyclical resurrections, human lives are understood to be linear. (Though I suspect geneticists would disagree, given that our dominant and recessive genes infuse us with the past). In any case, human lives are certainly finite. Hence, the reason for calendrical markings and the calendars we depend on to keep us honest, meet our commitments, and position ourselves in time.

But only perpetual calendars are truly honest. We are mere points within their concentric circles. Everything we do to refute the insignificant scale of our time on the calendar is a tactical defense against the inevitable. Our foretold fate explains why what we do is urgent – maybe not to anyone else but to ourselves. How else to make sense of this sentence stolen from Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Inadvertent (and which he stole himself): “I write because I am going to die.”

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