Is, as Hamlet once complained, time out joint? Have the ways we understand the past and the future—and their relationship to the present—been reordered? The past, it seems, has returned with a vengeance: as aggressive nostalgia, as traumatic memory, or as atavistic origin narratives rooted in nation, race, or tribe. The future, meanwhile, has lost its utopian glamor, with the belief in progress and hope for a better future eroded by fears of ecological collapse.
In this provocative book, Aleida Assmann argues that the apparently solid moorings of our temporal orientation have collapsed within the span of a generation. To understand this profound cultural crisis, she reconstructs the rise and fall of what she calls “time regime of modernity” that underpins notions of modernization and progress, a shared understanding that is now under threat. Is Time Out of Joint? assesses the deep change in the temporality of modern Western culture as it relates to our historical experience, historical theory, and our life-world of shared experience, explaining what we have both gained and lost during this profound transformation.