The Ineffable Temporal: Coordinates of Time in the (Indian) Literary

deadline for submissions: 
October 12, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Ritwick Bhattacharjee and Srinjoyee Dutta


The Ineffable Temporal: Coordinates of Time in the (Indian) Literary

Edited by
Ritwick Bhattacharjee
Srinjoyee Dutta

Being is Time. In a fundamental interconnectedness, existence finds itself, for one reason or
another, entangled with and within the complex matrices of time: not as the latter flows in and as itself
(for how can time be unobstructed flow?) but as it pools, floods, and takes along the infinity of Being.
It is this deluge of uncontaminated Time, in a sense, which brings out the pan temporal Entity in all its
existential possibility. Even Time itself is not spared the constructing impulses of this torrent. This
flood, a de-spaced onslaught, loops in on itself, like an ouroboros, to feed on itself and find sustenance
on itself. Time acts on itself and becomes itself as itself; it becomes in and as Being. In such
becoming, time acts and allows happening-of not only the entities that bob in and out, surviving
between being and non-being, but itself as well. After all, time finds itself in Being as much as Being
finds itself in Time. Finally, in this happening, the world is in perceptual presence, yes, but in concept
as well. This complex of the percept-concept bind works, inside the play of Time, as an overwhelming
greatness bounding over everything else (even, at times, itself). For this greatness both matters and
makes matter: greatness in a pan-spatial sense of size that entraps all other coordinates of creation. As
such, time, inside which such greatness presents itself (revealed or hidden), becomes absolutely great.
This absoluteness, as Kant notes in a different context, is ‘beyond all compare’. It’s not as if Time
cannot be compared to anything, but, rather, there is nothing, even in possibility, which holds up to
Time to even incite comparison.

The absoluteness of time is, however, ineffable. Ostensibly, there’s metaphor that dares
approach the behemoth of Time. Yet, it steps back only after a faint whiff of the whole. Not, perhaps,
because of fear but an ontological failure. What comes to humans in terms of a comprehension of
Time is merely hope and a concurrent feeling. This feeling is the phenomenal nature of Time: as
temporality. For what other option is there? In fact, Heisenberg and Bohr’s presentation at the 1927
Solvay Conference at Copenhagen proves the impossibility of knowing the world beyond what is
presented to us. The human can only know what it is in contact with - the phenomenon. This is also at
the heart of Husserl’s epoche: the eidetic reduction necessary before phenomenological investigations,
that is, to see the world as it shows itself, to know only in the shadow of a world’s revealing. Time
gets shut out, thus and the temporal steps in. Humans live it, live in it. They remember and forget, and
stitch a flow of the diachronic to rip it apart. They measure it, break it and waste it. They become this
and that inside this temporal shower. They find themselves both in a matrix of connectedness with it,
as, for example, Bergson’s duree, and outside it. Still, Time keeps on being, acting in ways that are

Having said that, the reduction of Time into the temporal does not simplify anything. Firstly,
the temporal does not signal the end of Time. If anything, the former becomes an affectation of the
latter even as both work separately. They converge and diverge as if in a cosmic dance: each being
themselves yet connected to the other. Secondly, the temporal is still a feeling, a resident in the
intuitive of the life-space of the human. Comprehending even the temporal seems distant and mired
inside an infinite deferral of discourses. Yet, it’s there. A life outside of time is as incomprehensible
and impossible as in it. The relation between the temporal and the human, after all, is directly
proportional to that of Time and Being. It makes human beings the exact mechanism of life that they
are. It warps the space that humans play in and allows - from the quantum to the cosmic - a breath, the
literal taking of breath. In light of this impossibility on one hand and its centrality on the other, how
does one then go about thinking of this temporal? How does comprehension of this temporal happen?
The answers to these questions might reveal not only the nature of the Temporal but also, perhaps,
show a small glimmer of Time.

The proposed volume believes that the answer lies, if at all, in the different forms and
mediums of literature (including the read, the visual, the oral and the aural). The emphasis here is not
on the representation of time or the temporal in literature. What instead is intended for interrogation is
how time happens along with literature: how the temporal seeps through the cracks of Literature’s
Being. There is, after all, an injection of the Human into the veins of the Literary allowing the latter to
bleed the Temporal. Imagine, for example, reading a novel: reading it in time that is at once the
reader’s, the author’s, the novel’s, and the characters’ and yet each being markedly different from
each other. The revealing of this different-yet-same strands of the temporal would, the volume
believes, show the temporal factotum as well. What about, then, reading two novels alongside? How
would one think of the schizophrenic split of Being that accompanies the hotchpotch of the temporal
functioning? Or, as another example, what of an Epic’s medias res beginning? It is, after all, a
beginning yet not the beginning. How does temporality function in it? Or, for that matter, how does it
function in poetry, as semantic and syntactic plays constitute/re-constitute the cosmologies of each

Further, the subjective dimension of either the temporal or the literary that reveals that
temporal (since subjective purposiveness necessarily creeps in first with the eidetic reduction and then
its unconscious situation within forms of Literature) posits another problem in terms of the subject
itself. Where does constructed spatiality that localises the ‘I’, especially within a geo-political scope,
lie vis-à-vis the concentration and subsequent revelation of the mixtures of the temporal? Is there, in
fact, any variable difference (or, on another quite Derridian level, différance) that shoots back into the
temporal through that which is constructed by Time and the temporal in the first place? For spaces
necessarily become a function of time even as they reveal the latter; or, through the second layer of
subjected function within space’s own happening as Humans doing literature. In other words, the
current volume wishes to look at if being ‘Indian’ affects the temporal and if yes, how? Thus, through
different forms and media of Indian literature it intends to interrogate not only how temporal
happening facilitates the acting of literature but also of temporality itself. This search is rooted within
the locality of the complexity of the Nation that finds itself in Time: as a looping again. In essence, is
Indianness, as qualified by categories of identity and as explored through the literary, an impasse for
the temporal or is it able to constitute what one might imagine as the Indian temporal? The hope, at
the end of this effort, is that of a possible glimpse into the complicated presence of the human within
Time as that human also becomes an entity in a particular ‘Indian’ space.

We invite abstracts of about 500 words that propose to explore this dimension of literature
to .The details of publication, including the publisher’s name shall
be disclosed to authors upon final selection. Possible Topics of Research may include

Time and Indian Novels/Epics/Poetry/Theatre
Time and Indian Music
Time and Communication affected as Techné
Time and Indian Cinema
Time and Being in Indian Literature
Time in Indian Visual media/Painting/Comics/Cartoons
Time and Mythologies of Creation
Time and the Gods
Time and the Ontology of Identity

DUE DATE FOR ABSTRACTS (Email to October 12, 2022
SUBMISSION OF FINAL PAPER (8000 words): May 12, 2023


Ritwick Bhattacharjee is an Assistant Professor of English at the Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa
College, University of Delhi. He is the author of Humanity’s Strings: Being, Pessimism, and Fantasy
published by Bloomsbury, a co-editor for What Makes it Pop? An Introduction to Studies in Popular
Fiction (with Srinjoyee Dutta) published by Worldview, Horror Fiction in the Global South:
Cultures, Narratives, and Representations (with Saikat Ghosh) published by Bloomsbury. He has two
upcoming books. The first is a two volume set titled Reclaiming the Disabled Subject: Representing
Disability in Short Fiction (co-edit with GJV Prasad and Someshwar Sati) published by Bloomsbury
and the second is Science Fiction in India: Parallel Worlds and Postcolonial Paradigms (co-edited
with Shweta Khilnani) published by Bloomsbury. He has been awarded the Prof. Meenakshi
Mukherjee Memorial award for his essay titled “Politics of Translation: Disability, Language, and the
Inbetween” published in the book Disability in Translation: The Indian Experience. He is, also, the
treasurer of the Indian Disability Studies Collective.

Srinjoyee Dutta is a doctoral scholar at the Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
and is currently working as Assistant Professor of English at Indraprastha College for Women,
University of Delhi. Her areas of interest include Gender and Queer Theory, Poststructuralist and
Postmodernist philosophy, Translation Studies, and Popular Fiction. She has been the winner of the
prestigious C.D. Narasimhaiah Memorial prize, awarded by the Indian Association for
Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies for the best paper in a conference, for two
consecutive years. She is the co-editor of What makes it Pop? An Introduction to Studies in Popular
Fiction published by Worldview. She is also an avid translator and translates from Hindi to English.
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