Going Inside Time… No Way Back

I

I remembered in the airplane coming back to Paris from Cape Town, that the first time I stepped in Gregg’s house here in Paris I destroyed his wall-clock.  I was staying overnight in the living room and the tic-tac of the clock was driving me crazy.  I had to take an airplane to Istanbul the next morning, and the mix between the stress of the travel and the tic-tac was a perfect cocktail for a night without sleeping.

Happily I could take the clock’s battery off at 1.00 a.m., so I calculated at least five hours of peaceful rest.  At the end were four; counting the one my body took to understand that I really had to sleep. The next morning I woke up and made preparations to take the metro to Charles de Gaulle airport.  The first thing I saw when awake was the clock resting silently in a chair next to the couch I slept in. I took the clock, placed the battery in its back again, adjusted the right time on it and tried to place the clock back into the wall.  The original place for the clock was above the door so I had to take a chair to reach the nail and hang the clock again.  But something went wrong, the clock slipped out from my hands and crashed against the floor.

I never saw a clock killing itself in such a manner.

After the sad end of the mechanical time counter I was confused and embarrassed to break the morning in a scandalous way. Gregg appeared at the door confused, and I promised to give him a new, well-behaved clock.  Some day, in the Future.

I never got him a new clock.  I couldn’t get a good one, I have the feeling that there is something wrong with all of them.

Now, I also remember that in the other side of my practical and political correct thoughts about taking care of other’s objects, I was thinking that such an image of a clock getting crashed was a beautiful cliché. I was thinking that it is fair that clocks kill themselves, after all, their job is pointless; they start always the day in the same way and stress everyone around them because they act as the remainder of how little time everyone has.

II

–       Little time for what?

–       Well, you know, for do what people have to do… on time

–       And what if they can’t do that, what will happen to them?

–       Mmm, lot of possibilities come to my head… they can lose their job for example.

–       But if they lose their job, then they will have plenty of time!

–       No, they will waste their time looking for another job.

–       Oh! But, what if they don’t get any job?

–       Well, then they will have a conflict.

–       a conflict…

–       Yes, they will have a conflict because not knowing what to do with all the time they have, also they will start to get debts. They will have loads of time but    nobody would buy them because maybe everyone will have plenty of time and will be trapped in the need for selling it.

–       So, the excess of time ownership generates problems?

–       Yes, quite an absurd situation, don’t you think?

–       But… if is such a pain in the ass, why people just don’t kill it

–       Kill what?

–       the Time, of course…

III

Marx, among other things, wrote about the pauperization of labor through the systematization of the work in capitalist factories. The average worker no longer had the opportunity of developing a skill, being doomed to sell his labor force –time and energy- for a rather monotonic and mechanical activity.  The worker becomes an extension of the machine, an app that will improve the production, accelerating his pace at the rhythm of the industrial progress.  No wonder the fascination about sci-fi literature on automata / artificial life developed by the time in Europe… at the end of the day, machines get old and exploited without knowing it. Ignorance is bliss as somebody says in ‘The Matrix’.

IV

I wonder if a robot would have a sense of relative time in the future, if it will get to the point to complain about its boring-eternal job of doing the same stuff once and again and again. If it will, with its colleagues, make a union of workers and demand improvements in its circuits, quality of the energy supply and time of retirement.  Maybe there are some machine conspiracies against our hunger of consumption… maybe that’s why some computers, cars, mobiles etc., don’t do their task properly, just to make us suffer because of not having our tasks made on time. Because of not consuming our time productively is considered a capital mistake.

Secretly machines like the word error, perhaps because is the only word that connect them with human beings.

V

Coming back to Paris, in the passport check in Cape Town airport, the official attending asked me something that I didn’t understand, then I asked him back:

– Sorry?

– Your destination madamme, please don’t waste my time!

– Oh! Paris…

– Thank you. Mmm, ‘’Milina’’ is your name…

– Yes

– Is an African name, you know?

– Oh! I thought it was Czech…

– No it is African, do you know what it means?

– No, tell me

– It means patience

VI

Ludwig and I were very tired of waiting for almost 24 hours for something to happen in a beautiful spot in the Karoo desert. The landscape was vast and during the day it was gently getting the entire color spectrum, consequence of the rotation of our planet around the Sun. At sunset the atmosphere was looking pink and blue, during the day a strong yellow air filtrated everything, and the next morning the sky was dramatically passing from purple and orange to blue.  We had placed in that spot of the Karoo desert a table with loads of food, four chairs, nice old fashion crockery and a white tablecloth. I thought that it was a tacit invitation for something to happen.  Maybe some animals would come during the night and eat the great piece of pork displayed on the table, maybe a group of Jackals would come and pass over everything, I was imagining a bunch of baboons drinking the wine and playing with the bell for service placed over there… when negative thoughts invaded me I thought that at least the flies will come and ruin the feast, or that some strong wind will take care of the table…

Nothing happened.

The table got trapped in a bubble of time, isolated from the normal events of the desert… the night passed and the next morning was exactly the same display of things, everything untouched, just a bit dry. Some how for the desert and its own life, that table clearly didn’t belong there and didn’t have an authorization to step in.  Or maybe the table worked as the desert wanted, as a mistake in a general understanding of time, as a clash between ‘civilization’ and survival.

VII

We left the table there.

Milena Bonilla

 

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