“What is time made of? Geryon said suddenly to the yellowbeard…
Time isn’t made of anything. It is an abstraction.
Just meaning that we
impose upon motion. But I see–he looked down at his watch–what you mean. Wouldn’t want to be late to my own lecture, would I?” (Carson, 90).
Throughout Autobiography of Red, Geryon continuously questions time, and what exactly it consists of. The yellowbeard’s answer implies that humanity has a tendency to establish a framework for existence, creating a universal list of expectations to be met during one’s life. This idea corresponds with the ideas expressed within Judith Halberstam’s In a Queer Time and Place. Halberstam argues, “queer subcultures produce alternative temporalities by allowing their participants to believe that their futures can be imagined according to the logics that lie outside of those paradigmatic markers of life experience–namely, birth, marriage, reproduction, and death,” (Halberstam, 2). These valued landmarks encourage society’s favoritism of heteronormative practices. A desire to pursue alternative ways of living is met with external disapproval due to the unspoken, imagined set of rules that an individual is expected to follow. In reality, as the yellowbeard claims, time is not made of anything. The idea of imposing order to one’s period of living is unnecessary, villainizing the desire to explore the self.
Geryon, also villainized as a little red monster, feels this isolation from the world around him. From early on, he has felt this detachment from what is considered “normal,” eventually hiding his wings within an overcoat to abide standard values. His insecurity exhibits “emotional and physical responses to different kinds of time; thus people feel guilty… these emotional responses add to our sense of time as ‘natural,'” (Halberstam, 7). Geryon’s struggle with his unique qualities causes him great emotional distress, as he often feels very angry, sad, or frustrated. This confusion with the societal fabrication of “normal” causes him to question what it will take for him to fit into time’s standards. By viewing time as a indicator of what is natural, Greyon overlooks, and even seems somewhat disapproving of what is truly innate. His inner connection with the color red is an important facet to his being, something that is characteristic to him from birth. Instead of embracing himself, the perceived normalcy of time prevents his identity from flourishing.
Brennan, Toni. “In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives: By Judith Halberstam, New York University Press, New York, 2005, 213 Pp., $19.00.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 36, no. 5, 2007, pp. 755–57, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-007-9224-x.
Carson, Anne. Autobiography of Red : a Novel in Verse. First Vintage Contemporaries edition., Vintage Books, 1999.