Insight – it’s about time…

I woke up this morning (duh-durrr-duh-durrr-dum) and I was telling myself that “it’s all about time” and I was having that pinging thing in my head which I’ve come to interpret as some sort of re-arrangement, brain banging up against skull, electric discharge through water, fat and brain tissue, whatever.

I’d been dreaming that I was on a railway station waiting to meet the Spanish ambassador to Chile, who for some reason “is based at the Court of St James”. I was early but wasn’t sure if I was late. I kept thinking about how much Spanish I could get away with when I met him. I’ve never formally learned Spanish, I can mumble ‘muchos gracias’ and “¿Cómo estás?” (unintentional, but appropriate encoding error) – that would have to be it and then I’d have to deal with whatever he said to me. Anyway then I was on the train and still late but not sure whether I might be early and missing connections and looking at timetables and *not* looking at timetables and feeling uneasy and then I woke up.

With the words “it’s all about time” bouncing around in my head.

And it set me to searching for evidence for or against this thesis – am I really obsessed with time? Is that what all this has been about, all this blogging and writing and music and running around and standing still? Is it as simple as the spirtual awakening that means you recognise time as an illusion, an abstract human-made concept which (like money) doesn’t really exist but which we use to organise our lives, until we find it is using us?


I made a list, in the order it came and fell into place

  • I have a childish habit of saying “it’s XXXX time” in response to the question “what time is it?” “Sleepy time”, “Tuttle time”, “Walking time”, “Breakfast Time”, “Ukulele Time”.
  • Um. Trains. In my dreams, often things are organised around a train journey, missing connections, finding a new way around that no-one else has seen.
  • Trains are my favourite form of public transport – I have spent six weeks in total travelling back and forth across the USA. I’ve done a fortnight going round Europe. I spent a year “on the road” but most of the travel I did was by rail.
  • My year on the road was a lot about stepping out of everyone else’s idea of time and money, seeing how far you can go, seeing when it is useful to embrace and when to let go.
  • My final year project at university in 1996 was a simulation of a rail network that found optimal train timetables given a rail network and a population of passengers.
  • I’m obsessed with where I am in my life. How long is it till Easter, Christmas, my birthday. How am I doing against this time last year? How am I doing against what my mother, father, uncle, grandparents, people I’ve never met, but to whom I look up – how am I doing against what all of them had achieved when they were my age.
  • How far through the year are we? Is it spring yet? How do the seasons work? An awareness of working against the natural rhythm of the year, the moonth, the day. A belief that if only I was more attuned to natural rhythms (and you bastards were too) all would be well. Or weller.
  • Animated GIFs are a little bit of time trapped and repeated eternally.
  • Every back-burner project I have has some aspect of bringing the past into the present – archiving, talking to people before they die, understanding the context blah blah blah. The stuff people would have put on Facebook 30 years ago if they’d had Facebook then.
  • Watching Classic Doctor Who with my daughter – It was also one of a few must-watch slots in my childhood – the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker years (or Three and Four as they’re known now…)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – There was a 1970s issue of The Defenders when these guys appeared and Vance Astro told the story of “his planet” (ie ours) and it all went wrong soon after 1980 when the ozone layer broke down. Aaaagh Apocalypse!
  • I have a complete book-crush on Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff – so much so that I can’t bring myself to read the whole thing.
  • Finding solace in things past or future – anywhere but now where it hurts.
  • Remix culture and the role of copyright and corporatism – the weirdness that this creates in the present because we can’t re-use stuff from the past without money and other resources.
  • The thing about Tuttle is that it’s 10-12 on Friday. That’s the one thing that hasn’t changed a bit for six years.
  • I’ve had times when I was *always* on time, when I was *always* early, or *always* late – always predictable until I switched modes (all these “always” are actually head-fictions)
  • I’ve often seen myself in groups as the memory man, the one who reminds the group of where they’ve been and asking how that fits with where they’re going. I make a living doing that, it’s called facilitation. Also Knowledge Management.
  • My grandfather mended watches. Whenever we went there (every week) he had a watchmaker’s loupe scrunched up to his eye like a monocle and a pair of tweezers in one hand tinkering until the clockwork worked and the watch came back to life.
  • I’m quite aware of the different timezones around the world. I often find myself thinking, what time is it now, there.
  • I’ve had periods of vintage obsession, wearing old clothes, using old machines, playing with aspects of the everyday past.
  • Photography is (just) the capturing of a moment in space and time.
  • As a teenage photographer I could play my way through several sets of batteries with a flashgun, seeing odd moments captured in the darkness, freezing water as it goes down the plughole.

Y’know? IDK. Something.