STOP ALL THE CLOCKS… SEASONS IN THE SUNDIAL

fall back

DAYLIGHT ROBBERY:

What really happens when the clocks go back

Yawn. Well, I don’t know about you, but I feel well rested. One hour extra rested, to be precise. Yes, thanks to a bit of traditional arbitrary seasonal quantum leaping (daylight-saving time), I am one hour behind the person I was when I went to sleep. Yes, by gum! One hour more of life for nowt. Let’s go cash it in!

But hang on. Does that mean I’m actually one hour OLDER? Having chronologically shifted back (a week ago; the deadline was thence, so I’m writing this from the future), my physiological self remains a temporal constant. Am I now traversing the museum of one-hour-ago with the body of a one-hour-henceman? Suddenly, I’m Rip Van Winkle in reverse. And so, as Irving Washington’s anti-hero Rip Van Wrinkle, I (and a wolf called Dog) am trapped in a cocoon of 60-minutes-ago antiquity, weary with the wisdom of the superfluous hour.

Except there’s no wisdom whatsoever – no reflexive mending of ways or lessons to be gleaned, save for the fact you will have your borrowed time rescinded once spring springs up and the clocks lunge forward. And while it’s not exactly H.G. Wells, this arbitrary clock-a-doodle-doodling does tend to induce minor tremors in man’s collective equilibrium. We’re talking, of course, about those fiercely guarded rations of somnolence.

sandman

Battle of the Somniac

Throw the clocks forward, and the hour of sleep lost therein has the horizontal masses up (or meaning to get up) in arms about the sheer impertinence of it all, as if they’ve been mugged and raped by Mr Sandman. Set the clocks back, however, and it’s like ringing the dinner bell for the optimistically malnourished, the “extra hour” being greeted with a docile gratitude normally reserved for Manna from Heaven. One more hour in bed is the ultimate morning jackpot – an unexpected blowjob from the tooth fairy, when you haven’t even lost a tooth.

Except it’s not an extra hour in bed. Never is. The fact the clocks retreat at 2am on Sunday morning – at the arse end of the weekend, but not as far as the tip of the dangling shit that is the week ahead – means any significant difference is lost in a black hole of nothing-time. It’s Sunday morning you’re heading towards, where nothing awaits, and waking up in it one hour in hand is like arriving early for a delayed flight. Just more time to kill, and even more time to plan its murder, after which you’re probably getting sent down to do more time anyway.

Of course, you could legitimately lay siege to your bed, holding yourself captive for at least an hour before releasing yourself, Brookes Hatlen style, into a world that doesn’t really give a shit either way. But that just makes you institutionalised.

ZzzzzzWasptime

Until the time-keepers that be change the quantum jump to 2am Monday morning – which would at least give you an extra hour to cry under the covers before work – the supplementary hour remains about as significant to your day as a supplementary wasp. When a swarm of the bastards greet you after a trans-Atlantic flight, zapping you with time-lag petulance, that’s when you feel the sting of lost time. Some people call it jet lag; in actual fact, it’s time-wasp agro – or TWA. Why do you think the term for being sharply irritable is defined as ‘waspish’? Why is it that “time flies”? (the supplementary “when you’re having fun” is actually a misquote for “when you’re being stung”). These things are called Time Flies. What’s more, why do you suppose you frequently find one of summer’s little divebombers crawling drunkenly across your carpet in late-autumn? Their flight time is over, but a surfeit of passenger zapping has them completely inebriated by quantum leaping and general temporal mischief.

Wasps, you see, are the sleep thieves and nature’s primary time-travellers. Beware the Zzzzzzzs…

Back To Back To The Future

BTTFIn modern (and previously modern) culture, the hit film series Back To The Future has seen a resurgence in time-travel interest, and has also seen the masses making all sorts of quantum leaps inside their wardrobes. Dressing up like an 80s fashion accident, however, is no longer the exclusive domain of the doofus; thanks to a radioactive cultural spillage at the beginning of the new millennium, an infection called irony created a temporal void in culture (a ‘back-in-black hole’, or ‘non-white hole’) that propagated a new species that could affect ‘pretendimonious temporal context’ (or pretentious cont. for short). The resultant time-ceasefire meant anyone, especially those with happy home lives, could emulate the chronically lost while maintaining social standing thanks to irony’s time paradox – or the status stasis.

Many of these people can be easily spotted around this time of year sporting faded (manufactured thus) Back To The Future t-shirts and self-satisfied (born thus) smiles beneath wispy, waspy beards. Approaching one such subject with the information that their shoes are untied, before swatting them on their wasp beard with a rolled-up copy of anything left-wing, used to be effective – a la the Back To The Future hi-jinx with Biff and George McFly (originally McWasp, but rejected on the grounds of being too obvious). However, obstinacy dictates that there are no shoelaces within this fashion foxhole, constructed as it is of sandals and espadrilles. The status stasis is also tasteproof.

So here you are, armed with an extra hour of living, thanks to the miracle of arbitrary time meddling. And for those of you who just want to crawl back into bed rather than deal with the temporal see-saw out there, it is important that you understand the quintessential message of ‘time is short’. A common misinterpretation of this is that it refers to quantum length or longevity; in actual fact, it refers to temperament. Time, you see, has got a massive strop on. And unless you get on with it – actually living it, be it living for the now, the then or the future – the time wasps are coming for you with implacable impatience.

DeLorean

So, we have the pestilence of time wasps. We can deal with them. Just be thankful we have bee-keepers. If it wasn’t for them, the big guns would be droning loose, and the resultant pollen count would have us all sneezing like misfiring DeLoreans into every nook and cranny in this infinitesimal wanderland.

But this week has seen some considerable action in the space-time continuum, what with the moonwalking clocks (one-hour redemption), Back To The Future day (or McWasp day), and Australia and New Zealand kicking arse in the Rugby World Cup (time repeating itself), it seems that, as the phrasing goes, time has caught up with us, and wants to impart a message. Time travel is real…

wankComing and going

Well, when we say real, we mean theoretically. Time wasps aside – which are as real and tangible as a kick up the arse (time-travel for lazy bastards) – there has been much postulating about the parameters of our apparent linear existence, and this chronological incarceration has propagated the occasional jail-break from radical thinkers doing stir. Custodial to life’s time sentence and a surfeit of time on one’s hands frequently produces two disparate modes of time occupation: escapology and masturbation ­– respectively “parole play” or “parole playing with oneself”. And while the latter is closely linked with traversing minor quantum future eventualities – referenced as a state of “coming” – the former has often discovered holes in the gossamer tissue of time’s fabric, much to the chagrin of the time tosser, who has way too much on his hands anyway.

So, if you don’t know whether you’re stickily coming or boldly going at this point, fear not: here are a few time theorists who have been (and forever will be) crapping on about time since the dawn of it (and probably the end of it). It’s a perpetual fight for mastery of the ring that is Time’s heavyweight dial. Seconds out…

 Everything countseinstein

1. Let’s start with the big man. In 1905, Albert Einstein (played by a big dog in Back To The Future) developed the theory of relativity (equated to E=mc2: energy is equal to mass plus the speed of light squared), from which he also devised a theory called ‘Special Relativity’, which postulated that space and time are components of the same principle: space-time. This continuum, in theory at least, makes it possible to traverse parameters in real time. Basically, if you were to travel close to the speed of light (the ‘c’ in Einstein’s equation) and spent a year as a super-light being, your return to earth (which is bound by gravitational real-time) would see those you went to school with aged by a factor of ten compared to your single year. Travelling at near to the speed of light would have catapulted your atoms into the future while your physical age (the one with the wrinkles and missing teeth) would remain a constant. Better still, your mental age will have not matured along with your school chums, so calling them desiccated old wankers would be chronologically acceptable. From this, the phrase “live fast, die young” might have been derived, but it wasn’t.

boltWhen Usain Bolt finishes a race (and always wins), his physical age is estimated to be at least 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000004 years younger than that which crossed the finish line. Meaning that if Mr Bolt was racing on his 30th birthday, and to celebrate decided not to stop, by the time he’d circled the world 680 times, his arrival at the finish line of this global marathon (in Greenwich would be apt) means he could celebrate being chronologically 32 with the body of a 31 year old. A dead 31-year-old, yes, but hey! – live fast etc…

The fastest animal on Earth is the cheetah, so named (by a dyslexic) because of its capacity for ‘cheating’ nature. In 1900, scientists exploring the Serengeti discovered the freshly dead corpse of a cheetah estimated to have died some time in 1899. Its body was found a few metres from its own grave.

Etymology of “human race” suggests the term derived from Man’s obsession with youthful preservation, and the “race” was literally against nature herself. Originally, a racist was an ageist. In modern times, a racist has evolved (or not) into a white, ageing, fish-belly slowcoach standing in the terraces and hurling abuse at the quicker, younger-looking black time trials.

Time trials were originally court-ordered sentences for crimes against rapidity. Due to the nature of the offence, however, very few people were caught.

E = mc2 remains a valid equation in clubbing culture, wherein E and mc really does fuck with time, and time jumps are as real, tangible and headfucky as the sexually rampant bunny rabbits you’re dancing with.

hengeThe 4000-year-old monument Stonehenge – a haven for superstitious hippies who typically look older than their time – was thought to have in fact been the world’s first running track, in which the ancient druids would ritualistically race to stave off ageing and shed the much-hated ‘ancient’ prefix of their druidic moniker.

Etymology of “human race” suggests the term derived from Man’s obsession with youthful preservation, and the “race” was literally against nature herself. Originally, a racist was an ageist. In modern times, a racist has evolved (or not) into a white, ageing, fish-belly slowcoach standing in the terraces and hurling abuse at the quicker, younger-looking black time trials.

God2. OK, let’s talk about the other BIG Man. “In the beginning,” says His word, “God created the Heaven and the Earth.” What we don’t get to hear is what God was up to before he did all that. A vital clue lies in the subsequent epithet: “And the Lord said ‘Let there be light’.” The fact that he popped out of nowhere and created a big world and stuff before he’d switched the lights on tells us a couple of things: 1) God can not only see and function in the dark, He can create a fully-functional universe. 2) Given that all this was achieved prior to light being invented, God was going literally faster than the speed of light, because He hadn’t given it permission to exist yet. The Almighty, however, was not the world’s first time-traveller, because He preceded time. The utterance “Let there be time” came, as it subsequently always would, only when God was on a tight deadline. And so, on the seventh day, “Let there be time” started the seconds before the subsequent word “out” could be heard (God was actually calling for a breather). And just before creating the wasp to counter this, He finally said “Let there be chill… out.” Unfortunately, the universe again missed the “out” bit, and lo God accidentally created ice ages and doctors’ waiting rooms, which took ages.

Gravity vacuums surrounding black holes, it has been postulated, might act as portals of time travel – but into the future only. This one-way ticket clause has induced much reluctance to hit the waves in the would-be time surfer; even with the knowledge that the estimated increase in status stasis from the irony paradox produced by future travel would render surf-gear impervious to ridicule, hesitation has scuppered future time-traversing. That, and the fact a black hole’s sheer gravitational mass would, as Stephen Hawking says/beeps, “tear you apart and turn you into spaghetti before you reached the event horizon”. But for every action, and all that…

4. So what is it?

whitehole

Well, according to documentation from 3 million years hence, as witnessed (and subsequently unwitnessed) aboard the Jupiter mining ship Red Dwarf (which would earlier be predicted by a prescient sitcom of the same name), for every Black Hole – a portal that sucks time and matter out of the universe – a counterpoise exists in the form of a White Hole, an inverse entity that effectively vomits time and matter back into existence willy-nilly. As a result of this random time generator, Newton’s model of action and consequence are no longer applicable to reality, causing time to repeat itself. As a result of this random time generator, Newton’s model of action and consequence are no longer applicable to reality, causing time to repeat itself. And sentences. Research shows these mischievous chronological wormholes can sometimes appear at Conservative party conferences or watching Dave. Both of them. And the last thing you want is that shit on a perpetual loop…

5. So what is it? (Only joking).joking

6. Billy Pilgrim has, according to the novel Slaughterhouse 5, come unstuck in time. The protagonist from Kurt Vonnegut’s timeless classic lives in a state of perpetual flux; he is constantly time-travelling. Thanks to some efficient abduction from an intergalactic species from the planet Trafalmadore, Pilgrim is privy to their knowledge and science, which stipulates that time only exists when experienced, and the essence of time and fabric are in perpetuity. For this reason, death itself is but a moment that is, was, and going to be ad infinitum – merely a point in time that is happening, will happen and did happen at the same time as, say, the loss of one’s virginity. For this reason, the sting and pain of the event is nullified – immaterial – because they are all happening forever. (The loss of one’s virginity, however, is never nullified or made easier or more dextrous by repeat viewings.) From this, encounters with the notion or occurrence of death are met nonchalantly with the phrase “So it goes.” Death is merely a portal – a doorway that always leads back from whence it was expunged. It’s the infinitesimal vernacular of “Shit happens”, and views the passage of time with all the lagged indifference of an airline passenger on TWA arriving on a concourse six hours behind the carcass that was stung to death halfway across the Atlantic.

SIGSo it went, so it is, so it goes…

And speaking of time travel and literature, in The Time-Traveller’s Wife the quantum-leaping protagonist gets to shag himself. I mean, how cool would that be? Not only would you be perfectly attuned to your own needs, hateful jibes such as “go fuck yourself” would become welcome words of advice. Until time travel catches up, though, evolution might get a bloody move on and shorten that vertebrae. It’s soooo close, I can almost…

wasp

Zzzzzzzz B

Jesus, is that the time? I really must wasp.

*Dedicated to the transatlantic, perpetually stung AH

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