Tick to the Tock

I looked back over the blog to see what I was thinking about on Christmas, 2006.  But I could find no entry for that day.  Then I remembered I had an awful day.  That was the day I decided not to watch the Lakers anymore because watching them play so pathetically made me want to throw the TV through the window; and later that day in some sort of fit, I banged my head into the wall, leaving a roundish indentation in the sheet rock.  Now that’s always embarrassing.

Looking back, I see I was going through withdrawal from that terrible effexor.  That was part of the problem, maybe the straw that broke the camel’s back.  But partly too, there was all that other stuff going on at the time.  Trying to sell Joan’s house being the big thing so we would have the money to pay for the place where she was staying.  We had made the deal for the house, but it hadn’t closed.  I was waiting and I hate that and I was still recovering from the pneumonia.  All and all, I felt like jumping out of my skin.

I can’t believe that was just one year ago; it feels like eons.  These last two years feel like eons.  How can that be? I wondered yesterday, I think, and remembered having read the French philosopher Bergson on something he called duration.  Scientifically or objectively speaking, last Christmas was 365 days ago.  How can 365 days feel like more than that?  That’s where duration may come in as the explanatory factor.  Bergson wrote:

When I follow with my eyes on the dial of a clock the movement of the hand which corresponds to the oscillations of the pendulum, I do not measure duration, as seems to be thought; I merely count simultaneities, which is very different. Outside of me, in space, there is never more than a single position of the hand and the pendulum, for nothing is left of the past positions. Within myself a process of organization or interpenetration of conscious states is going on, which constitutes true duration. It is because I endure in this way that I picture to myself what I call the past oscillations of the pendulum at the same time as I perceive the present oscillation. Now, let us withdraw for a moment the ego which thinks these so-called successive oscillations: there will never be more than a single oscillation, and indeed only a single position, of the pendulum, and hence no duration.

I don’t know if this explains anything or not, but to follow up on what Bergson says, we might imagine a year clock with 365 positions or ticks on it.  When we count these ticks, he seems to say, we are thinking of time in terms of the spaces between the ticks.  Each tick perceived in space is a single position with no past positions implied.  But in duration one endures and in that position, outside of space,  all the past ticks are summed up or implied in the previous ticks.  Something like that.

So perhaps this feeling: “I cannot believe last Christmas was only 365 days ago” arises from my immersal in “duration.”  From that perspective, the perspective of duration, all the days merge and flow indistinguishable into each other.  There is no such thing as 365 days ago.

This Christmas is not the tick to the tock of last Christmas.

One thought on “Tick to the Tock”

  1. I don’t know if you like the films of Jean-Luc Godard. I do. He messes around w/ sound. In his film Made in USA, for instance, the plot has as its starting point the death of a character whose last name is Politzer. Every time someone speaks Politzer’s name, some loud external noise, which Godard over amplifies, drowns out the sound of the name Politzer being spoken aloud, though the camera stays tightly focused on the face of the person speaking the name, so we see the name Politzer being wordlessly articulated. To give another of many examples, in the climatic scene, Paula played by Anna Karina–Godard’s ex-wife–delivers, while sobbing, the following speech, which, of course, was written for her by Godard: “Oh, David, love, love, truth, beauty, sadness.” Godard removes all of these words from the soundtrack except “Oh, David” and “sadness.” This is how I experience the bizarrely loud ticking of the small battery-powered clock that rests on the ledge over the kitchen sink.

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