There is a phrase of Yoruba origin often repeated in Candomblé which says: “Eshu hit a bird yesterday with a stone he threw today.” There are those who interpret this maxim only as a sign of the enormous power of Eshu, the orisha of crossroads, exchanges, markets, transformations, and language. However, I once heard someone supplement the saying with “and that was how Eshu created the past.” Candomblé offers resources to understand time in a spiral way, with past, present, and future (before, now, and after) intersecting, affecting, metamorphosing in all directions. Evoking this spiral, I arrive at other questions such as: “what is possible now that wasn’t possible after?”; “what is possible now that won’t be possible before?”; “what is possible now, that wasn’t possible now?”. This reminds me of Walter Benjamin’s ideas concerning time and politics, especially his notion of violence as “pure means” so important to think about, for example, in the context of what unfolded after the murder of George Floyd. The mutating past is here, vibrating in the encounter of things and words, and giving us the present for us to change. So, in relation to the original question, I would say that what was (or wasn’t) possible before will always change, but what is possible now is only possible now.
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