We all send messages that travel in time. Time, it’s one of those human concepts that actually means nothing when you really sit down and look at it, like money `We the Bank of England promise faithfully to pay the bearer…` no real money anywhere. No gold, no treasure, no booty. All of us trading pork futures down at a warehouse frozen and empty.
But time means nothing as well, I guess thats probably why no one will ever travel it as we do through space (no I’m serious and yes I’m an art major so what the hell do I know). The 28th, the 29th human abstract numbers applied to a pre-determined, pre-arranged idea. I will arrive at this hour, this day. And we have agreed that sixty seconds (what?) make up a minute (what?) and sixty of these minutes make up an hour. Lets start the hours rolling ‘here’ and count on from ‘now’ and one and two and three…and I will arrive at half past ten, thats thirty minutes counted on from the tenth hour. We agreed on the hours starting ‘then’ remember?
Skimble and I awoke early today, we got into her car in the below freezing, briskly unlit morning and launched ourselves on the unsuspecting world with blasts of country music. ‘Bubba shot the jukebox last night, he said it played a sad song he didn’t like…’ The morning sky eventually turned from ink into a washed clean white tinted round the edges with gold and overhung with a blue straight from Egypt. And we were heading to Tokyo and Narita airport. ‘If you’re coming with me you need nerves of steel, I take corners on two wheels’ It was the 28th of December in Japan, but of course in England it was still the 27th, about ten o’clock at night if you go by the pre-arranged system, and here is where things began to get unglued.
Phillius Fogg managed to forget the International Dateline, a stupid human construct, an agreement, a gentlemans handshake.
If it is ‘now’ here then it must be ‘now’ there…but it takes time to travel and the sun rotates our round globe. It can’t be the same ‘now’ there as here. Because we set out ‘nows’ by the sun, a silly notion; the sun plays no more a part in this agreement of ‘now’ than gold does in the arrangement by the Bank of England to give us all paper instead.
9 hours. (whats an hour? sixty minutes) It is agreed that there are nine hours between this place and that, between his place and mine, between England and Japan. It is agreed that it takes twelve hours and some minutes (whats a minute? sixty seconds) to fly in a plane between England and Japan.
Skimble and I rode the trains and I was thinking of the ‘nows’ an endless stream of ‘nows’ in Lancaster, Grasby, York; argumentative nows, tearful nows, orgasmic nows, lonely nows. All nows when they were ‘now’ but now they are ‘then’ by the gentlemens agreement of our language. If I say ‘orange’ it means this round thing here, if I say ‘causality’ will you agree to know what I mean? ‘I’ll go where the wind blows, you can’t tame a wild rose, destiny turns on a dime.’
It was 1:30pm when I rung, in England they’d agreed to call it 4:30am instead and three times sixty minutes and some seconds had gone since I’d seen his flight number land and leave from Copenhagen. (whats a second? 1 000 000 000 nanoseconds…the more zeros there are the more meaningless the numbers)
28th is not the 28th but 29th…we forgot the gentlemens agreement to travel through time to be together. Add twelve hours for travelling and another nine to stitch with…
Skimble and I rode the train home and we looked out of the back window to see the tracks vanishing behind us, the tunnels swallowing all the previous ‘nows’. There is something seductive about looking back, I think that some people are trapped looking back, and I am one. Today I read ‘A Scientific Romance’ about travelling through time to a post apocalyptic future. The futures are unsure, like pork in an empty warehouse and flesh cannot travel back in time, but we are always looking back, trapped in a bottle unable to have a future because we cannot look ahead to see it. Are we unable to have a present as well? Are there only the train tracks being swallowed by the tunnels, the light at the end of which we have already travelled and is vanishing beyond the tunnel anyway?
Our flesh cannot travel backwards but words and thoughts and dreams face backwards for us born of that particular janus…we miss a head and the future is not ours to take because for us it simply does not exist until it has been.
The Jellicle Cat does not exist here yet. Only his pasts sit inside my mind and fight to take precedence over other pasts, other paths as the tunnels swallow the lights. The 28th has become the 29th, gentlemen, shake hands and agree.