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Timely Thoughts

Presentations and talks about time in human life, society
and the world

Where did time go?

A talk about what time does to people and organizations, why it often feels like we have to struggle with it, and what we can do to (rediscover) the fullness of time.

Our modern society is characterized by speed and constant performance. In the last few hundred years, the Western world has built what sociologist Hartmut Rosa calls an 'acceleration society', where both organizations and individuals must constantly perform optimally to avoid marginalization or lagging behind in the constant competition. At the same time, life itself has accelerated and we are working hard to get the most out of life while we are here. Time must be used for something and must lead us forward as quickly and efficiently as possible: wasting time is a modern mortal sin! But when we constantly use and optimize time, being truly present and tending things in our lives with sufficient time, can be a challenge - in private life  as well as organizations. Ultimately, such temporal patterns have the scary potential to make us strangers to ourselves, each other and the world.

So how can we take back time, or re-engage with it? The second part of the presentation opens up time and explores some of its many shapes and practices. The ways in which human beings and our organizations are connected to past and future, and at the same time to everyday biological rhythms. The way time is different for animals, trees and microorganisms - and what we can learn from them. The way caring is a loophole out of speed. And how agency can be something very different from a linear A to B movement.

The presentation ends with a series of questions,  inviting the audience to dialogue. For example:
Is time with you or against you - and how do you get time over on your side? Which times are you connected to? What happens when the time is fully booked? How does the organization make room for time? And what do we see if we consider our relationship to time as our relationship to life itself (and thus to death)?

Other topics

Time in the Anthropocene

Earth's new geological epoch is the Anthropocene: Humanking has become a planetary force, changing the Earth's atmosphere and ecosystems for thousands of years to come. Our exploitation of million-year-old resources (oil, coal, gas, minerals) shifts into climate change and catastrophes of the future. 

We are indebted to infinite pasts and must learn to think in terms of unceasing futures. Is it possible for us to be a planetary force in ways that, in cooperation with nature, creates healthy circumstances for others than ourselves?

The history of clock time

"The clock, not the steam engine, is the key machine of modern industrial age", writes philosopher Lewis Mumford in1934. The division of the day into clock hours, minutes and seconds has changed our world over the course of the last 1500 years.


The presentation takes us on a journey into clock time; from the work-discipline of Benedictine monks in the Medieval Age through the introduction of global time zones in the late 19th century; from the development of temporal scarcity on the work regimes of colonial settings to the efficient supply chains of today; from the prestige clock scheduling of the18-19th century British upper class to the signalling of busy engagement on LinkedIn anno 2022. Why does clock time hold such power over us?

Deep time: human conceptions of time across 200.000 years

Through the history of Homo Sapiens time has structured our lives in different ways. Three overarching temporal structures can be argued;

Cyclical time, rooted in the circadian rhythms and the movements of nature. 'God's time' of monotheist societies, in which our time on earth is a temporary ordeal and life after death defines our earthly endeavours. Instrumental time, which is the division of clock time into fixed measures, and the exploitation of time can be translated to money or other goods - and thus time must not be 'wasted'.

But what times and temporalities will we need in the future, where the world is complex, catastrophic and unstable?

Long futures and utopian thinking

Transitioning to a sustainable world with good conditions for all life will require new thoughts and actions, we know that much. What are the trends among entrepreneurs, thinkers, activists, artists and modern rebels in acting towards readically different futures? Thinking with utopian visions and methods is moving from a 20th century association with totalitarian societies. The new utopias are unruly and 'bumptious' (Haraway, 2016), and they mix human beings, animals and other creatures of the earth into entirely new modes of being. They are dynamic and call for a world with room for many worlds . They create connections between present actions and future needs. The presentation gives a view of the vibrant landscape of ideas, actions and speculations that inspire connectivity with futures in 50, 100 and 1000+ years.

What do you get?

  • Inspiration and zest for change

  • Material for new conversations in your organization

  • A committed and engaged speaker with many years of lecture and teaching experience

  • A presentation tailored to your needs,  rooted in your particular organizational context.

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