2010-11-11 / Musings

Time Frame

Tempus fugit.

— Virgil

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’

Into the future...

I want to fly like an eagle to the sea.

Fly like an eagle, let my spirit carry me.

I want to fly like an eagle ‘til I’m free...

— Steve Miller, “Fly Like an Eagle”

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 set the stop date of daylight savings time as the first Sunday in November.

So at 2 a.m. on that day, U. S. clocks fall back, mostly. Not in Hawaii, nor in Arizona land that is outside the Navajo Indian Reservation. And not in some other territories: In an attempt to scorn love of detail, I won’t list them all. It is all so complicated, this marking of the passage of time. How is a pirate to know if it is today or yesterday? Of what benefit is the complexity of the International Date Line and time zones? Of calendars that morph through time and space? There is confusion, in a trice, quickly bound up and away with an exceedingly small rope, as thick as a hair, woven, measured and cut by Norns older than the gods.

It was Ben Franklin who first suggested the relabeling of time to save energy. His article “An Economical Project for Diminishing Cost of Light” appeared in the Journal de Paris in 1784. His greatest

et concern laid in trying to convince the Parisians of that time to rise before

n noon.

In the heartbeats between carpe diem and memento mori, tempus fugit. It has been 25 years since the birth of the film “Back to the Future.” And it was in 1966 that the television series “It’s About Time” brought astronauts to prehistory, flying, in the words of the show’s theme song, “through the barrier of time.”

It all comes closer to home in the You Tube video recently posted by George Clarke of Belfast Yellow Fever Productions. In this video, Mr. Clarke shows footage from a DVD box set of the films of Charlie Chaplin. In Chaplin’s film, “The Circus,” made in 1928, there is included behind the scenes footage of extras milling about. Mr. Clarke draws attention to an old woman walking behind carousel figures of an elephant and zebra. I agree with Mr. Clark that she could be a man in drag. S/he wears a dark hat, feathered, a three-quarter length winter coat with fur collar, and large, clunky shoes.

And she seems to be speaking on a cell phone. Even walkie-talkies had not been invented at the time. And if it were an ear trumpet, it seems odd that the person is talking into the device. Mr. Clarke puts forth the hypothesis that this is a time traveler. I have had stranger ideas.

So did Martin Heidegger, the author of “Being and Time,” written in 1927. This text, though written in haste and never completed, is an important work that has profoundly influenced Western philosophy.

For Mr. Heidegger, being is beyond beings. Being determines beings as beings. And Da-sein, German for therebeing, is the name he gives the human being. The essence of Dasein is being Being in time, seemingly stretched between birth and death, thrown into a context in time. Time, the union of the ecstacies of past, present and future, is the meaning of Being. But if temporality is the meaning of Being, what is the meaning of temporality? Mr. Heidegger did not have time to finish. But Charlie Chaplin wrote: “Life is a desire, not a meaning.”

The Greeks have two words for time: chronos, quantitative time; and, kairos, qualitative time, time in between, undetermined, the fleeting moment in which something special happens. The Greek notions bring me timely remembrance of Salvador Dali’s 1931 painting, “The Persistence of Memory.” But even its melting pocket watches mutate. By 1954, “The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory” appears. Melting beyond melting.

The Virgil quote expands: “Time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail.” Grimly wielding scythe and hourglass, we long to detail connection. We create time capsules, time release medicine for alienation. Timely salve to soothe and save. But for when are we saving? In time, who saves whom?

Why would a time-traveler be behind the scenes of a Charlie Chaplin film? Why not? Mr. Chaplin said it best: “One of the ironies of life: Doing the wrong thing at the right moment.”

“In the end, everything is a gag.” 

— Rx is the FloridaW eekly muse who hopes to inspire profound mutiny in all those who care to read. Our Rx may be wearing a pir ate cloak of in visibility, but emanating fr om within this shadow is hope that readers will feel free to respond.

Who knows: You may even inspire the muse. Make contact if you dare.

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