The tripartition of Western “time” into past, present and future is not consistent with the Andean experience. In Quechua, there is only one common word for “future” and “past”: ñawpapacha. To differentiate the two, substitute forms such as hamuq (“what is coming”), qhepa (“after”), ñawpa (“before”) or qayna (“before”) are used. The “present” is expressed by kunan which simply means “now” (sometimes also kunan pacha: “now time”). The present and future tense verb forms “share” the second persons (“you” and “you in plural”), i.e.: there are no specific forms in the future tense for “you” and “you in plural”. For runa/jaqi, the future is not something that “comes” ahead, and the past something that is (or “goes”) behind, but the other way around: the future in a sense is “behind”, and the past “ahead”.
Andean time is therefore not “unidirectional” (from past to future), but bi- or multidirectional. For cyclical rationality, the future is actually behind, and the past ahead; but also vice versa. If we project a circle and its “area” by 90° towards us (i.e.: move it around its diameter), we see a line; and if the circle rotates (as a cycle), the projection gives us a bidirectional “eternal” movement (up and down), oscillating between two culminating points. For the runa/jaqi, history is not the field of the realization of novum (Bloch), nor of progress or development towards the “better”. Rather, history is a cyclical “repetition” of an organic process, corresponding to the cosmic order and its relationality.
Author: Dr. Josef Estermman