The now famous scene in doctor who (a show that does deserve enormous criticism) where the doctor describes time as not linear, but more of a “big ball of wibbly wobbly stuff” has the potential to demand consciousness and activism of us.
The Doctor dimisses notions of linear time. Linear time is often what prompts inaction or indifference (alongside privilege, lack of knowledge..). The assumption is that society/the world are consistently moving forward and progressing to better and better places, as if anything that might be viewed as improvement hasn’t been fought for, in battles with body counts. Linear time provides a consistent narrative of social improvement that obfuscates the need for people to push for and claw out spaces of resistance.
Linear narratives of time and progress presume a fundamental benevolence of time and power, rather than recognizing that power is not on the side of the oppressed and is not swayed by the passage of time to do anything but, perhaps, shift form, at least, in neoliberal capitalistic notions of linear time learned in classrooms as we view history as static, factual, and done.
Suddenly, if we shift towards the ball of time stuff, there are no longer guarantees of improvement or progress. Instead all points in all time are connected, and everything we do matters suddenly. The particular timelines we’ve been taught become destabilized in many powerful ways. We must recognize the tangled connections that demand our action now as well as the power that we might be able to draw from all of the simultaneous history and struggles. The metaphor fundamentally posits time and history as mutable and more shiftable by us rather than passively benevolent constants.