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Clock Confusion

March 12, 2017


“Where’s your watch?” I ask my then teenage son.

“Don’t need it, got my phone.”

“What? You have to pull your phone out of your pocket to see what time it is?”

“No problem – a watch is just another thing to remember.”

I though it was just another Young Adult Sage Wisdom Proclamation like “I can shower BEFORE I go to bed and get up later!” which led to no shower – night or morning.

But he was right.

I hated finding my watch, putting it on, remembering how to reset it in these biannual freak fests of efficious reminding that, yes, once again, Humans Can Control Time: Spring Forward/Fall Back.

So now I look at any device handy to see what time it is: and that time is Perfect: to the second, the universal Clock in Absolute Definition. Except when the IPhone battery-drain in 2 minutes software glitch means you have no idea what time of day it is.

My other son still wears wears a watch, but on the side of his wrist so he can glance at it with no arm rotation or movement. I guess he controls time too.

My wife has several watches: it’s never clear which one is on at which time for what reason, and that’s a measure of control.

But I took my son’s lead. And sometimes I leave meetings late, because it’s kinda rude to check your phone when you should be paying attention to someone else, so I am late to the next meeting, also rude. Just like my watch my phone runs out of battery life: or my phone lays in the sun too long and gets too hot and the it just shuts down. But Time grinds on, without respect for those measure failures, because time happens whether you measure it or not, no matter what we want.

We try, desperately to control time because it is the medium of our expression: whether it’s appointments or duration or simply getting a sense of where you are – the watch, phone, Ipad, car radio all silently meter and define, validate or judge.

And today humans decide that we need more light later, and we change time to get that: but we do not change anything, because we made it all up to begin with, this measuring: the sun is not present longer, we just wish it were so we change the definition of its setting time to get what we want.

I wish I could do that for about 100 other things in my past and future: controlling any aspect of anything seems better than accepting what we are forced to deal with. But our new watches, those phones that reset themselves and are Perfectly On Time are just another invention that confuses measure with control: we may set hours, but we do not change the passage of any second.

Maybe in this black silence of a newly darker morning time it just seems a little slower…

One Comment leave one →
  1. Joseph Dzeda permalink
    March 12, 2017 7:33 am

    Someone once observed that only Congress would think that, by cutting an inch off of a blanket at the top, and then sewing it back on at the bottom, they could make the blanket longer. I don’t think so…


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