As part of Paula Morison's ongoing art project, resting up collective responded to her letter that asked, 'What Is (the) Time?'
It is time to disrupt the notion of time. To seek out the interruption or complete absence of clocks. To reframe the construct of timeframes, deadlines, and the hours of the working day and ask which bodies can maintain this rigour? Who constructs these parameters? Who lives outside of them?
Bodies living with chronic illness and disability are in opposition to neoliberalism’s ableist framework and its centring the cult of the self. In a society that treats life like an enterprise fueled by individualised productivity, we cannot/do not want/should not have to keep up.
As Alison Kafer writes, many of us have no choice but to live under ‘crip time’, which “rather than bend disabled bodies and minds to meet the clock, crip time bends the clock to meet disabled bodies and minds”. This is something we have to try and learn to live with but, within structures that do not accommodate illness/disability, it’s a continual struggle. In this non-linear world, no day looks the same — we are the embodiment of flexitime. Sometimes we can do all of our daily tasks and have plenty of spoons remaining to pursue joy and creativity outside of necessary commitments. Other days, we only have enough energy to get out of bed, if that.
Crip time means many things. It means, as Ellen Samuels says, that we must “listen to our bodyminds so closely” to avoid pushing beyond our limits while simultaneously recognising them. Crip time means asking why our bodies are viewed as limited, and by whom. It means departing from an idea of linearity and progress, slow or otherwise.
It is not always easy to see this way of being as liberatory. Even under slippery crip time, inequalities persist due to race, gender, class, citizenship, age, and more. Some sick bodies have to work despite being sick because society has never been structured to accommodate black and brown people, let alone sick black and brown people. Resistance to the enforcement of material circumstances, as history has shown us, lives in pockets of care, community-based networks that support each other beyond the confines of the state. The poet Gwendolyn Brooks encapsulated this sentiment in her poem, ‘Paul Robeson’:
“we are each other’s
we are each other’s
magnitude and bond.”
This desire to connect and support each other, be it virtual or IRL, reminds the one voice that it is part of a worldwide chorus of chronically ill and disabled voices. This connectivity reminds us that there is always someone who has time for you, who sees you wholly — with your sickness/disability and couldn’t conceive framing it as a hindrance. These mutual spaces encourage us to hold one another, to support others when they’re running on empty, and organise care in any way we can.
Crip time is an experiment in thinking and being with ourselves and others. A blueprint to try and remake each of our individual worlds. It’s time to start building.
In stillness and solidarity,
resting up collective