Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Week 5: Unstuck In Time (so it goes)

“What time did you get out of school today?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?
“I don’t know.”
When I first met Billy, he was lost in time. That is to say, he couldn't tell time, much less make any sense of past, present, or future.  Some would argue that he wasn’t lost as much as he was free—free from the mental chains of linear time. You see, Billy’s conception of the time-space continuum was such that everything that ever was, is or will be—simply is. Like a first year Spanish student learning how to conjugate verbs for the very first time, the conjugation of his experiences was limited to a single tense: the present.
But I am a product of the machine, and so too Billy must grow to be. In the machine, to be “free from time” is a radical concept—too radical a concept. Billy must know time.
To teach him, I broke up the abstract concept of time into two discrete pieces: date and clock-time. Date, I explained, is triangulated from three pieces of information: the year, the month, and the day.  Clock-time, I explained, is also triangulated from three pieces of information: the hour, the minute, and the second. “Together,” I explained, “date and time tell you when something happened, is happening, or will happen.” 

And with that, Billy’s fate was sealed.

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