28 Jul 2012

Time and Inquiry in Clifford Duffy's 'AsK'

posting by Corry Shores
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Time and Inquiry in Clifford Duffy's 'AsK'

See Clifford Duffy's 'AsK'

We are to ask ourselves what is a clock, a cock, adoodledoo? Yet we note the importance of this question really being a question, as the poem is titled 'ask,' and it has many question marks, and this question recurs in steady cycles. The affective impression is that questions themselves are under question when we ask 'what is a c(l)ock[adoodledoo]?'

Does the form of a question have something to do with the form of time, and what is the role of clock-like mechanisms in this formation?

The marquee-renewals make a cycle, like how every morning we hear cockadoodledoo from the cock at dawn. The hour hand will make 24 turns to relatively the same marking between each cockadoodledoo, and Duffy's marquee cycle will make something like 4320 cycles in that period. We know that time moves constantly forward, because it keeps moving in circles. The cycles create units of measure that allow us to put aside the continuous heterogeneous alteration through time to instead measure extending quantities of its flow. So is a c(l)ock[adoodledoo] merely a temporal homogenizer?

But why so much emphasis on the asking? What is it about asking that has something to do with time, clocks, cycles, and so forth?

The clock homogenizes. Yet what it homogenizes might be seen as a series of askings, of askings: 'what's next?' What's next, come next dawn? Another cockadoodledoo. But what is next every instant whatever? This is always for us primarily a yet-answered question. It is a sort of drama of the world's mutations.

What is the pure form of time? Putting aside time's actual passage, its form is the immanence of before and after which are in a relation of succession. They are immanent to one another, because time is always in passage from before to after, thus they cannot be structurally apart. So the c(l)ock[adoodledoo] tells us that time is passing, which means there is always a continuous flux of change. Yet the form of time, the before with after, does not change.

A question has a certain sort of temporality. Its answer comes after and is somehow brought into life through its question. When we ask a question, we have already evoked its answer, even though it is not yet explicit. The after is implicitly given with its before in the structure of the question.

So what then is a clock, a cock (adoodledoo), a Duffy marqueed poem? It is a constant reminder that each moment is an asking to be answered. The form of time and the form of a question share in common a bringing into implicit immanence the after with its before.

Clifford Duffy, 'asK'

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