I have this really weird idea this year that instead of a resolution, I’m going to have a “theme” of the year. I’m not really sure where I came up with the idea of having a theme except that I really love Lapham’s, but the more I thought about it, the more appealing the idea became.
Time is life itself, and life resides in the human heart.Momo, by Michael Ende
I’m not really sure what form this project will take. I want it to kind of develop on its own. I know for sure I’m interested in the philosophy of time, and in the ways we represent time in fiction. I’m also really interested in distortions of time, like time lapse and stop motion film. One of my pet ideas used to be speculative uses of tense and aspect in language, though I feel like Ted Chiang kind of beat me to the punch there. I’m doing that Ironman in September, which means a lot of my time is being invested in being faster in three different types of motion, which I’m discovering bends time in a weird way, as you experience your own activities. One of my other goals this year is to confront my insane and unfounded fear of putting my French in order, so I’ll probably try to finish In Search of Lost Time in French. I also have some writing projects planned that I think will be interesting to consider in terms of time. My hope is that if I stick with it I’ll figure out some way to draw everything together by the end of the year.
Why time though? Well, in part it’s because I feel like a person who lives “outside of time.” I say that all the time, and I feel like people don’t always understand what I mean. I literally never know what time it is. I frequently don’t know what day it is, let alone the date. Everything I do is centered in thought, which is in many ways atemporal. But the moments when I feel grounded not only in space but in time are the moments that draw me back from depersonalization. Being a “me” has both a here and a now, and it’s the now that I really struggle to understand.
I also am clearly interested both academically and creatively in the ways that time relates to memory. It comes up in all of my writing, this idea that there’s an internal time in which time travel is very possible. So I think this will also be valuable in sorting out clearly how I think about plot, which is often oriented along the axis of time-as-experience, both for the reader and the characters.
And finally, for a lot of reasons, I’ve been feeling the immense pressure of running out of time. So I’m really interested in what precisely it means to “run out of time,” since that phrase doesn’t really make sense except as a perception in my case. What exactly is it that I feel has been taken away from me?
Anyway, 2019 seems like as good a year as any to consider time. I will have graduated from college 10 years ago this year, and that’s probably enough distance to let myself go back to being the all out weirdo I used to be. Maybe time is circular. Maybe I’ll understand what the concept of “circular time” actually means this year. Or maybe I’ll forget all about this in a month. We’ll see.