November 15, 2008
A lot of us assume that time is little more than a linear device by which we measure the endless waning of our lives. Time is something to be heeded, cherished and captured. Time allows us to look to the future and into the past; it defines the present.
Time. Judged by the Fates through the weaving of twine into a spindled network of our existence, slipping by, ticking down click by click, morphing into Arabic symbols by which we effortlessly divide up our days and struggle through them.
Remove the measuring devices.
Time becomes silent, moves out of your control and into a boundless whir of direction and distraction and confusion. Time vanishes altogether, leaving a note saying that it never existed to begin with and that this was all a big joke. And a paradox, you say to yourself, as you pick up that note from Time, who never existed. If it never existed, then how did it come to write this letter? More pressing – how can a paradox exist with the element of Time removed from the formula?
By the Time it took you to realise that the note had been left, by the Time you realised that the universal constant had left you, Time had disappeared. Not possible, you say, not possible. Time doesn’t disappear. Of course it doesn’t… Time is no longer relevant, not even the Time you are spending reading this.
Don’t worry, keep your watch. It’ll come in handy when judging what Time to catch the next train home so that you don’t miss your favourite series which will be on by the Time you sit down on the sofa.
It occurs to you as the synapses in your brain fire away haphazardly, that small something you read about when you wisely invested wasted Time in studying philosophy: just because it is shown to be fallible, it doesn’t label it useless.
The measurement of Time is many things: comforting, convenient, organised, insightful, erasing, frightening, nihilistic. Useful, predictable – wait. No.
You woke up this morning. A blur, a mind smothered by sleeping pills yet to wear off combined with too much Time invested in resting yourself. 11am, it must be, it is, you say. A heave and a sigh, so much Time lost, so much opportunity gone, you’re behind schedule, you won’t get it all done in Time now. You make a plan, cut the unnecessary from what Time you have left and begin.
But Time … doesn’t exist. And you have been deceived. 9.30am. Your world shudders at the Time anomaly, falls apart and leaves you, for the rest of the day, utterly Timeless. Ruined. Unable to fathom not the disappearance of Time, for it never really appeared, but your sudden realisation that the measurement by which you live your life collapsed and gave you too much Time to ever be able to cope with.
We count down Time. Sometimes we are betrayed by our own illusion.