Blackspot Time

What is our Year Zero?

What year is it? The question seems so obvious that to ask it is absurd. But, ignore the ridiculousness of the question for a moment, and provide an answer. "It is 1430" would be the reply of a citizen of a Muslim nation because it has been 1430 lunar years since Muhammad entered Medina. A citizen of a Western nation would disagree: today is 2009 years since the conception of Jesus Christ. If we could go back in time and ask someone from the Byzantine Empire then we would discover that it is actually 7518 (the number of years since the creation of the world). Three different answers each that tell us what event the culture of the answerer finds most important. At the beginning of each calendar is a Year Zero that refers to an event which inaugurates a new era. What, then, is our Year Zero?

If we wish to escape the frenzy of hyperconsumerism, perhaps we should inaugurate a calendar which leaves more time for leisure and less time for work. The typical arrangement of the week is into seven days, two of which are vacation. During the French Revolution, a calendar with a 10 day week was adopted which left less time for relaxation. Perhaps we should begin by imagining a calendar comprised of 5 day weeks, two days of which are vacation. That would increase the average number of weekends per month to 12 from the current number of 9. That may sound like too many days off, but keep in mind that during the height of the Roman Empire there were roughly 130 festival days a year!

Changing the number of days per week would slow down economic production and decrease consumption. Both of which are important ecologically.

But that doesn't resolve the question of what Year Zero would be in a Blackspot World. Perhaps Year Zero is in the future and we are currently living in the BC of Blackspot Time. Or it is also possible that the truth is the opposite, that Year Zero is behind us and we need only identify the specific event that inaugurated our era. What would that event be?

Or maybe we should reject a homogenous time altogether and say that each person has their own Year Zero: the moment of their anti-consumption epiphany? Or shall we instead embrace the timelessness of the present moment and reject the calculation of time altogether?

What does it mean to "Live Without Dead Time"?

Micah White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters Magazine and an independent activist.