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Time and the Hydroelectric Dam

In: KronoScope
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  • 1 Department of French & Italian, University of Colorado-BoulderUSA
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Abstract

The hydroelectric dam is an interface in which contrasting temporalities converge and undergo transformation. Its massive wall sits at the center of operations where age-old ecosystems clash with rapid modernization, white water turns into a placid lake, and dynamos convert the lake’s gravitational pull into high-voltage electrical current. The hydroelectric dam exploits and exacerbates differences among the temporalities distinguishing these operations to generate power. In doing so, it has rendered the variance of time more perceptible. To support this claim I focus on the iconic Hoover Dam and on the works of Oskar J. W. Hansen, Joan Didion, Allen Tupper True, Francis Ponge and Fabrice Gobert. The main themes I examine in their works pertain to the notion of temporal interface and to the conceptions of deep, nested and haunted time.

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