Toni Morrison on the Future of Time

Toni Morrison, from “The Future of Time: Literature and Diminished Expectations” | The 25th Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, 25 March 1996.

“I am not interested here in signs of progress, an idea whose time has come and gone — gone with the blasted future of the monolithic Communist state; gone also with the fallen mask of capitalism as free, unlimited and progressive; gone with the deliberate pauperization of peoples that capitalism requires; gone also with the credibility of phallocentric “nationalisms.” But gone already by the time Germany fired its first deathchamber. Already gone by the time South Africa legalized Apartheid and gunned down children in dust too thin to absorb their blood. Gone, gone in the histories of so many nations mapping their geography with lines drawn through their neighbors’ mass graves; fertilizing their lawns and meadows with the nutrients of their citizens’ skeletons; supporting their architecture on the spines of women and children. No, it isn’t progress that interests me. I am interested in the future of time.”

–Toni Morrison

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