It is Time to Think about Being Coeval

Now, we think about coevality. We stop saying the word, “equality.” We stop saying, “universal.” We blur out eyes to the disparate and stagnant discourses erected around economy, race, sexuality, nationality, and other markers of identity, and instead we attempt to be radically present in time. We strive for a rich co-existence in order to exceed and expose the limits of faulty taxonomies assigned to the planet. The Earth supports much deeper kinds of communication, many dynamic shapes of time. Wake up, make and re-make coevality!

Artists and scholars, feel yourself feeling and being felt by the planet! Feel yourself in climate change. Feel yourself in the cosmopolis. Feel yourself in the anthropocene. Feel yourself in political action. Feel yourself in philosophy. Feel yourself in the creation of animate time. Feel yourself overcoming impotent discourse with action, presence, and art! Coevality is a quality in a moment of communication created in collaboration by the mutual opening of subjects, places, and times.

PLANETARITY is the set of relations by which the Earth and the globe become congruent and coextensive. Radical awareness of the planet initiates the production of coeval ethics, aesthetics, experiences, and communications. There are unbelievable means of seeing other galaxies and, also of seeing ourselves and others. Indeed—to be human is to be intended toward the other. Think of the planet as another species or as a place of otherness, alterity. We acknowledge that the past and future are shared and that time is data—an abstraction applied to the planet to make it a globe.

Our ENVIRONMENT is the anthropocene, the geological era in which human activities are the affective force driving changes and transformations. Ecologies have skewed and distorted. Viewing the Earth has become a matter of human perspective oriented by greed, denial and self-regard. Centuries of human exceptionalism have justified Industry’s and Economy’s domination of the environment in the names of family, science, and state. And yet, extinction appears on the horizon.

Environmental uncertainty generates a collective fear that motivates new ways of thinking about the planet in art, science, and politics. Any possible resolutions of the dilemma demands a different mindset—a coeval disposition—and a radical overcoming of the anthropocentric conception of history and logics that delineate relations between time, nature, and humans.

CONTEMPORANEITY is not merely to exist in time at the same time. The naturalization of universal time is a lie. We acknowledge and share multiple histories, times, and existences. To the questions: Whose time? Whose history? we do not utter a return. Time, history, and the planet are always-already answering.

A linear understanding of time, in which the proximity of bodies in space is confused for their interpellation into a single timeline, was constructed to support anthropocentric domination of the planet’s spaces, places, times, and materials. The presumption of development rests upon myths of inexhaustible resources, proliferating wealth and expendable human capital. Such myths advance human inequality and environmental catastrophe.

To consider time coevally is to recognize the validity and the contemporaneity of alternative conceptions of temporality that currently operate outside of or at the margins of capitalism and modernism. This does not mean that modernity’s model of time ends, though it must cease to be dominant. Coevality entails the acknowledgment of the possibility of manifold temporalities and the persistence of diverse histories.

ANTHROPOLOGY, the study of humankind, has made objects of its subjects for much of its history, often positing that the lifeways of non-European people have been the same since time immemorial. Time belonged to the anthropologists and existed outside ethnic and geographic “others.” We denounce this! From a premise of shared humanity we declare that the conditions and experiences that bring us together as humans preclude othering within the present. This is planetarity rather than universality. The state of collaborative openness and communication, and the mutual acknowledgement of presence, existence, history, and time define an anthropology that is apt to its task.

To be truly coeval we must consider a dynamic planet that is coextensive with humanity rather than merely or passively inhabited by humans. In doing so, we advance a mode of anthropology that can heal rather than destroy the Earth and its inhabitants.

What does it mean to be in RELATION—not just with the world but with the self and the self and selves of others? We know our ancestors have been human for a very long time. Yet tensions between personhood and objecthood—particularly in relation with marginalized subjects—have a long genealogy. Out agency to affect others is a responsibility central to the ethics and morality of coevality. The fact of being-in-relation outweighs the specifics of the relationships themselves. Entanglements of relation among humans, times, and the planet catalyze coeval intersubjectivity and self-consciousness.

We come to know that the Other is within us and affects who we are, how we perceive consciousness, and how we evolve. The preservation of supple and dynamic relation of agency is a necessary foundation of coeval thinking as the problematic of contemporaneous existence persists. Coevality, in its insistence that we exist together and not merely in spite of or alongside one another provides a necessary alternative to the increasingly untenable logics of capitalism and “cultural exchange.”

In our century, ART and criticism have begun to embrace contemporaneity and give way to plural temporalities. When the climate is changing and when post-colonial shifts in culture, government, and economy undermine the humanistic and planetary functioning of the globe, contemporary art will enable visions of utopia and present possible outcomes for the correction of our worldview. We shake off the aesthetics that divide the human from the Earth and insist upon universal time! Contemporaneity requires an aesthetics of planetarity, an ethics of coevality, and a criticism that discovers its enabling conditions within radical and artistic form.

Our PHILOSOPHY acknowledges the authority of that which already exists. We must practice the philosophy of coevality. We observe fluxes and becomings in the fabric of time, space, culture, and humanness. We use this philosophy to work toward understanding the great shared-ness of planetary existence and to grasp at the richness of being in time with others.