Sign Of The Times
“Sign of The Times” offers “a universal message packed with thoughts and reflections.”                    - Kambuika Kamunga - WBEZ Chicago Public Radio
Jeff Helgeson's dedication to experiment, surprise, twisted absurdities, and language reflect and refract in Sign of The Times.                    - Marc Smith - Poetry Slam Founder
“Sign of the Times:” From the Prologue of this verse play by Jeff Helgeson, from the beginning, or even before the beginning, from what anticipates and thus exceeds the beginning, one thing is clear: this will be a play that raises many issues and yet, paradoxically, is about nothing. Not, it should be noted, about absolute nothing, or absolutely nothing—as though something, such as a beginning, could come from absolutely nothing—but rather about nothing as it permeates and surrounds every something, first enabling the present moment, the presence of each and every thing, now, here and now, for just a moment. A nothing that is thus at work at the heart of time itself, a nothing that is an operative force, at once positive—first making possible both presence and its approach, opening the expectant possibility of a future that is not yet—and negative, infusing withdrawal and absence into every presence, a slipping away of things themselves, their receding into an unfathomable darkness that language itself inhabits as it seeks to trace, to signify and convey, the approach and withdrawal of things themselves in their most concrete, tangible presencing. Language not only inhabits this abyssal nothing: this nothing, indeed, first calls forth the possibility and necessity of signification, thus of thought itself, as a response to the slipping away of things, of beings as a whole, in their very approach. Every gathering of things into and in the present moment is always already subjected to a dispersion wrought by… nothing.
“[T]he beginning of nothing”: it is not that something, something else, such as the verse play or the signification of language, begins nothing here, first brings nothing into being, as it were. No, it is, rather, that every beginning is of nothing, already belongs, in advance of its very event, to nothing—that nothing, as an active force, first enables each and every beginning:
This is the beginning of nothing,
here in this place,
gathered expectantly together,
nothing at its start,
a point in time with no end in sight,
...all that such a beginning,
such a circumstance, is able to convey.
If things are not what they seem, not as they appear to be, if “Beneath the surface the currents do not cease to flow” (*ms p.25), it is not because (as Plato thought) there is some eternal truth beyond appearing; nor, as some post-modernisms would have it, because such appearing is only ever the self-referential play of infinite signification. It is, rather, this present play suggests, because all appearing is already subject to the force of nothing, because all appearing is already a disappearing act, because—beneath the surface—concealment and withdrawal are already at work, first giving rise to the surface itself: that is, to the times and their signs, to their emergence and disappearance, on this incredible scene of life….
William McNeill - Author of:
The Time of Life: Heidegger and Ethos
The Glance of The Eye: Heidegger, Aristotle, and the Ends of Theory