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CT / MeetFactory Gallery / Time After Time / Sarah Jones

Curators:Jaro Varga & Zuzana Jakalová
Opening: 24 November, 7 p.m.
Exhibition duration:  24 November 2016 – 8 January 2017
Artists: Manon de Boer, Kara Rooney, Ben Landau, Cristina David, Martin Vongrej, Marie Lukáčová & Jakub Roček, Viktor Frešo, Rona Stern, Khalifa Ababacar Dieng, András Cséfalvay, Caroline Kryzecki, Jaro Kyša,  collaboration: Jonathan Ravasz
Text Contributors: Sarah Jones, Yonatan Raz-Portugali, Roswitha Schuller, Jaro Varga, Christina Gigliotti, Zuzana Jakalová

When I Ride
: Alfred North Whitehead’s extensive continuum

“Ev'ry man, has a flaming star
A flaming star, over his shoulder
And when a man, sees his flaming star
He knows his time, his time has come.”

Elvis Presley, 1960[1]

An author wrote that we live waiting to die. That we can see our own end, always in our periphery.[2] Elvis sings about a flaming star that sits over his shoulder. He can’t look around; he has to ride forwards because as soon as he catches sight of the star that is following him, he will know that he is going to die. Elvis knows that his death is inevitable, but he cannot predict when and where it will take place. He also knows that the event of his death will find its immovable place in the past alongside the deaths of ev’ry other man. Elvis spends his own unique, continual, and indivisible present in the process of living, which he equates with riding in the particular direction that he has designated forwards. Eventually, a flaming star will make Elvis’ potential future death a past fact. Until then, Elvis rides forwards, which is also deathwards, but is not death. Elvis rides forwards, never lookin’ around, hoping to maintain the series of processes constantly at work, that keep him in a phase that he considers as being beforehis time has come.

Alfred North Whitehead’s extensive continuum connects an always novel, potential future to an incurably atomic past through the indivisible and extensively expanding, lived present.[3] Whilst everything in the universe is its own thing, it is only its own because of its place in the unity of the whole universe. Everything must be separable, but not separate, like the idea of a half; half only because it is half of some whole.[4]Without a whole, a half is not a half, but a instead, a whole new whole. A half exists as what it is in its entirety as a half, and what it potentially is, made possible by its past as part of another entirety. In this way it can be considered real and abstract —real in its halfness, abstract in its wholeness— both at the same time. Ev’ry thing in the universe is bound in the extensive continuum —Everything belongs to one universe— but ev’ry thing in that universe is in its own self-sufficient unity and has its own experience that is entirely unique. Our present belongs to our cosmic epoch alone; it is unbroken, non-linear, spatio-temporality conditioned by the sheer multiplicity of the satisfactions of the past.

Elvis’ death is always present in his present in the potential for its occurrence; this potential is conditioned by everything that already exists. Elvis is an incredibly complex nexus of actual entities, an enduring object with personal order. Actual entities (or actual occasions) are self-governing, desiring of cosmic unity, and are the processes at the root of everything that the universe consists of, including flaming stars. The coming-into-being of any actual entity is a complex, non-linear succession of feelings and phases growing out of and integrating with each other and their ghosts, eternal objects.[5]Eternal objects pattern coming-into-being with potentiality that they have found in other coming-into-beings, now passed. The process of coming-into-being is complete when a desired unity is achieved. This moment of unity is a satisfaction. A satisfaction is a kind of a death. It is a fatal collision of patterning potentialities with immanent subjective desire, and it is the moment that the actual entity becomes a divisible atomic reality in the newly arrived past. The actual entity dies in to the datum, for another event of feeling, growing and integrating—when all of the actual entities of Elvis are satisfied, their desire to continue the unifying process of enduring as Elvis is gone and Elvis dies. The process of working towards that satisfaction is the actual entity’s coming-into-being, it’s living —as long as the processes that desire to endure as Elvis continue, Elvis lives and Elvis rides.

The last crossing of Halley’s comet, visible from a horse, was in 1986. I was four and Elvis had been dead nine years. I remember waiting in the darkness with my Dad. Darkness is made of the light that it cannot reflect. The core of a comet reflects less than three percent of the light that hits it. It’s blacker than tar. I am looking up at my Dad’s shoulder, a silhouette of black on black, and I couldn't say which was darker or if either was darker than tar. His shoulder is the Earth’s shadow in my four-year-old-universe and the stars spray out from the hole that he cuts in the night sky. I imagine that everyone must be as excited as I am, everyone must be looking into the eclipse of someone that they love. Everyone in this memory is bursting with a four-year-old anticipation that pushes us into one another. We are a whole town on a small hill in a black night in the southern hemisphere and we are deaf to what separates us from one another in this moment. The edges of each person’s joy, lay silently across the edges of another’s in this memory of a present passed.  

Elvis asks the flaming star not to shine on him but he doesn’t control the patterning effects of eternal objects by conscious macro-choice. Everything is happening by micro-choosing —consciousness comes much later. In the coming-to-be that is the present, every entity feels every other entity with varying degrees of relevance. Things drop in and out of focus as the present comes into existence; some things are more important than others. Elvis doesn’t mention the temperature, the geography, or the colour of his horse. Elvis sings his complex cognisance of the coming-in-to-being of fear — even the flaming star feels somewhat distantin contrast to the relevance of fear. This is because at the micro level of the actual entity, there might not be knowledge but there is bare emotion. Whilst bare emotion is not the same as Elvis’ interpreted, integrated and transformed feelings of fear, it is the closest resemblance we have to the most basic physical feelings of those micro-choosing actual entities.[6] And no matter how vague Elvis’ fear renders things, they are all always there conditioning his experience of that fear. The flaming star is always over his shoulder, as it is always over my Dad’s. Pulled around them from its continuity in the future, by free imagination or memory. Pulled into the actualisation of Elvis fearing the sighting of the flaming star; Myfather eclipsing the comet he has brought me to see.

The present is both public and private. It is shared by the nexus of Elvis and by the nexus of Halley’s Comet in its coming-to-be, with and from them. The actual entity’s desire to move towards its own subjective unity in relation to all other things, logically incorporates the desires of the unity of the extensive continuum— Elvis is a collection of whole elements, in a whole universe, the oneness of each, repeating to the crack of doom in the creative advance from creature to creature, each creature including in itself the whole of history and exemplifying the self-identity of things and their mutual diversities.[7] The extensive continuum keeps everything together publicly whilst the coming-into-being of each actual entity in the nexus of Elvis decides its own space-time privately in relation to its forming public. Elvis is patterned by time as Elvis patterns time, and time grows “in extensity,” not in “length,” in the same manner as that in which memory is continually growing in the richness of its content.[8]

Despite his musical premonition, History tells us thatthe event of Elvis’ death and the crossing of Halley’s comet did not in fact coincide. But both events, having occurred in the past, are equally available to pattern the happening present and therefore the potential future. Both events are implicated in the unity of the extensive continuum. Both creatures include in themselves the whole of history and exemplify the self-identityof things, to differing degrees. Both are internally related— part of the whole, in which each thing is remembered in the patterning of the creation of each new thing. And each is a thing to itself, a concrete half. The flaming star has its own unique perspective of Elvis as it threatens to appear in his periphery, Elvis has his own unique perspective of the star in the universe; they are abstractly separate, but in reality they are inseparable. Elvis and the star are part of the extensive continuum— they do not live in containers of space and time, rather they are conditioned by the spatio-temporality that is all others’ pasts, presents and futures. But the past is incurably atomic, made up of a multiplicity of real halves with their own unique perspectives. The past is sheer multiplicity, a multiplicity of actual worlds…  This means that even if Elvis’ death and the passing of Halley’s comet had occurred at the same time in History, it might not have been that flaming star that killed him. The events could be mutually contemporary. Elvis is riding, the comet passes overhead, Elvis dies. But the comet does not contribute directly to Elvis’ death, nor does Elvis’ fear of a comet sighting directly induce its orbit.

Edmund Halley never saw the return of the comet that he predicted in 1705, and Elvis died in 1977 when the comet was still nine years away. I remember waiting in an unmatched darkness, a hundred bodies putting warmth on the top of a small hill in 1986. Each of us are conditioned somehow by the highly eccentric elliptical orbit of a flaming star. Before Elvis died, he rode forwards, as a half of the whole of the extensive continuum.


Sarah Jones

The part of the exhibition is a special project Pivot by Markus Hanakam and Roswitha Schuller at Kostka Gallery.

Open daily 1 – 8 pm and according to the evening program. Voluntary admission fee.


MeetFactory is supported in 2016 by a grant from the City of Prague amounting to 10.000.000 CZK.

[1]Flaming Star Title track from the film of the same name. Performed by Elvis Presley. Words and music by Sherman Edwards and Sid Wayne, October 7, 1960, 2:25min
[2]Don DeLillo, White noise, New York : Viking, 1985
[3]Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (Corrected Ed. D Griffin & D. Sherburne), New York: The Free Press, 1978, p.61-62
[4]Elizabeth M. Kraus uses the concept of the half of the whole as analogous to Whitehead’s notion of a continuum as a complex of entities united in a complex series of whole to part relationships. Elizabeth M. Kraus, The Metaphysics of Experience, New York : Fordham University Press, 1998, p.108
[5] Whitehead, p.67
[6] Whitehead, p.163
[7] Whitehead, p.228
[8] Kraus, p.137