it's about Time
That elusive dimension that makes life as we know it possible.
Theologans, philosophers, thinkers and sceintists have for thousands of years tried to unlock the secrets of time.
I recently heard a fascinating episode of radiolab devoted to Time. If you have a minute or 47 you can hear it here. This post is loosely based on my impressions while listening.
In my previous Subway poem I contrast the passage of time as seen from the eyes of 2 perspectives moving at different speeds, the passenger hurrying to work, and the musician spending the day there playing his music.
Time, as Einstein shows in his theory of relativity is not a fixed universal tempo as previously thought. It is rather an elastic concept that can be stretched or shortened based on the subjects perpective.
It’s fascinating to note how almost everything in this world has some sort of built in meter that sets its tempo. In living things it might be the beating heart, in stationary objects, the rate of erosion and in a music piece the tempo of the melody. We experience time based on this constant and it can thus be sped up or slowed down accordingly by temporarily entering another items time frame and tempo. For instance if you go to the beach, close your eyes and listen and let yourself be immersed in the sea, in the crashing waves, you tap into that new tempo and time slows accordingly.
In Torah Hashkafa we know that time only exists for us to function in. It’s one of the dimensions of our physical arena along with space. But each moment does exist, we just cannot understand in what fashion that may be because we can only grasp the physical world as we know it. So time is relative indeed. The Michtav MeiEliyahu writes that our Souls are revealed to us section by section to work on. Each section is a moment of time.
Imagine a moment stretched out to 10 or 20 times its legth to disect and analyze.
I was fascinated by this performance given in San Fransisco of Beethovens iconic 9th Symphony.
However, instead of it lasting the intended 60 minutes or so, it has been stretched to last 24 hours. So you’re listening to this familiar piece of music and you’re in an entirely different dimenion of time. I found it to be eerily beautiful and a small peek into this concept.
Here is the first 10 minutes of the piece..
(Here's the site..)
If you listened to the entire NPR clip you heard how time has evolved over the years. The way time was viewed just 200 years ago is very different to the way we view it today. This dramatic shift has had some interesting consequences and has raised some questions I’ve often wondered about.
The clock is a relatively new invention and the concept of everyone having the same time wasn't widespread until the railroad came rumbling through and the need for a standard timetable arose. Imagine yourself back on a farm in 1800. Time was measured by tasks. Dawn was time to wake up. There was time to feed the chickens, time to eat lunch and time to bring in the harvest. And when the sun went down it was time for bed. Some of the more interesting clocks mentioned are the spice clock (where every hour another spice is released and even in middle of the night you can taste what time it is), the bird clock (where different birds by nature chirp differently at different tmes of the day) and others. Time was inexorably linked to things happening. Today the clock ticks on a time based time regardless of tasks or function. The universal imaginary clock keeps marching on and on. Think about how much easier it is to be lazy today. You're not wasting time if time is something far removed from the sphere of action.
I sometimes wonder about our alloted time in this world.
Is it based on time?
When we spend a certain amount of time we expire?
Or is it task based?
When we accomplish a certain amount or conversely, when we miss a certain amount of opportunties we are taken away?
Is it a football game, where the game is over after 60 minutes?
Or is it a baseball game where the game doesn’t end until 54 or 51 outs are recorded with a decisive score, no matter how long or short it takes?
hmm keep thinking...