Friday, January 02, 2015

The Shape of Time

 

 
What we call the beginning is often the end

                                                   And to make an end is to make a beginning.
                                                   The end is where we start from.   
TS Eliot Little Gidding.
 
New Year traditionally brings this inescapable  mood of reflexion and sense of Tempus Fugit. Last evening at sunset I was having drinks with Birgit and Andrea from Brazil, who I believe will feature often again in the future in this journal since she is intending to stay on indefinitely, and has even moved into my old flat at Dembele’s – see my first blogs in 2006.

We were discussing the shape of time. I came forward once more with my thesis that time is round, just like a clockface. We are now sitting at the very top of the circle, and we are beginning our descent towards mid summer and the bottom of the circle. For Andrea time is linear. She begins at the beginning and continues forward in a straight line until the end. But this seems very bleak to me – just straight ahead without  any pleasant new beginnings?  With the circular vision there is always new chances. Not only the year but the day and night is circular too. She agreed with this and we came to the conclusion that her time is a series of revolutions in a straight line, like a ball that is rolling forward; each roll is a day and eventually a year. But my time is not linear- it is definitely circular and I see it more like the year circles in the stem of a tree.  I do not remember what shape Birgit’s  time has, must remember to ask...

 
On the fascinating and somewhat melancholy theme of time I must mention  the manuscript in the Djenné Manuscript Library which Dmitry Bondarev and Yelpha  is studying above. It dated 1665 and the scribe writes:
I who have written this will soon  rest under the earth but what I have written will remain upon the earth. To you who will read my writing I ask pity and forgiveness for any faults and mistakes I have made.

6 Comments:

Blogger Susan Scheid said...

One of my favorite poems in all the world is John Ashbery's Just Walking Around, and the reason it's a favorite has everything to do with what you've written:

Just Walking Around
(by John Ashbery)

What name do I have for you?
Certainly there is no name for you
In the sense that the stars have names
That somehow fit them. Just walking around,

An object of curiosity to some,
But you are too preoccupied
By the secret smudge in the back of your soul
To say much, and wander around,

Smiling to yourself and others.
It gets to be kind of lonely
But at the same time off-putting,
Counterproductive, as you realize once again

That the longest way is the most efficient way,
The one that looped among islands, and
You always seemed to be traveling in a circle.
And now that the end is near

The segments of the trip swing open like an orange.
There is light in there, and mystery and food.
Come see it. Come not for me but it.
But if I am still there, grant that we may see each other.

I wrote about its importance for me here, and, if you have time and inclination, I think you'll see how very much I share your view.

May you have a wonderful New Year!

10:40 PM  
Blogger David said...

Bittersweet, poetic - just perfect. The metaphysics are what's missing from a horrible film we watched on DVD tonight, Calvary, about a Catholic priest in Ireland. It's well acted but scripted like a Gothic grotesque novel; the realism is at odds with the fantastical writing. Then I made J watch the last half hour of the Lucerne Memorial Concert for Claudio Abbado, and that put it all right, or at least in human/infinite perspective, thank God. So in my present mood I think you are right.

Do you mean Birgit's moved in to your old flat, or Andrea (who might be a man for all I know, in which case Birgit).

I hardly need wish you many more discoveries, adventures and deepenings for you in 2015.

d(&j)xx

10:43 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Thank you Susan for the poem and link- love it! Particularly the idea of the orange: adding some three-dimentionality to the flatness of my circle. A very good New Year to you!
And David- it is Andrea - a woman- who has moved into Dembele's flat. Birgit is leaving soon. Wishing you and J a very happy new Year! xxxS

2:59 PM  
Blogger Laurent said...

Best Wishes for the New Year 2015 and thank you for your blog.

2:49 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Dear Laurent,
wishing you too a very happy year and thank you for reading!

3:45 PM  
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10:50 AM  

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