The battle between timeliness and timelessness takes many casualties. Those creatives who emphasise timeliness are ephemeral artists, issuing hot takes in rapid cycles of inspiration and release. But all their remarkable speed cannot hope to match the velocity of the present. That which they make is soon forgotten or outdated. Their work is dead as soon as it issues forth from the creative womb. But those who pay no mind to the current climate—be it social, political, cultural—also birth stillborns. Because their work is isolated from, rather than immersed in, what is currently happening, it too fails to strike hearts. Timelessness, in this sense, is a synonym for irrelevance.
That’s at the macro level, the level of creative humanity as a collective. What about timeliness-versus-timelessness as an individual creative?
It manifests itself in the act of creation. Consider the difference between necessity and freedom. Timeliness is allied with necessity—I have to release it right now, at this moment, because it is perfect moment. Timelessness is allied with freedom—I can take as long as I need to get it right, because this transcends past, present and future. As a creative, you need both to produce.
We need time pressure. Else we would tinker and refine for eternity. There has to be a deadline, a point at which we say, “Enough”, and move on to something else. Similarly, we need to feel like we have the time to play and experiment, else we can never can go deep enough, can never ask the right questions, can never uncover the surprising answers.
Thus the battle is also a balancing act—our bodies of work and our processes of producing have to incorporate elements of timeliness and timelessness. They have to take great notice of time and space, and also exist outside of them.