Reflections on Time

Reflections on Time

This is the first of a series of brief essays that expand upon the ideas expressed in my poems. Let me begin with a poem:

Time’s Fools

Time is the Master that controls us all.
What was, is. What will be, was.
We are all Time’s Fools,
Who clown and caper as it passes by

All of Time exists.
We have but a little bit of it,
To hug, and hold, and do kind deeds.
Our piece of Time, of course, must have a stop,
So let’s begin.

Time is truly our master, but it is also our window, our small and cloudy window into the profound mysteries we can never comprehend.

Most people think of me as irreligious, and in the sense that most people use the word religion, I am. But I have a spiritual and philosophical side. For me, Gödel’s Theorem holds the key to how we should think of the immense vastness that is beyond our ken. Gödel proved that (to simplify a bit) for any given system there exist propositions that cannot be understood from within that system.

For me, that is it exactly – we must accept the fact that there are things we cannot know, mysteries we cannot solve. Consider the strange mystery of Time. It is one if the fundamental properties of the Universe. In that sense, Time is static and eternal. But as we live our lives, it seems as though we move through it at an ever-increasing pace. Time feels dynamic.

I cannot resolve this contradiction, and perhaps I have no need to do so. These days, the only quality that seems real is decay – the decay of our bodies, of our minds, of our civilization.

My hope is that, in some mysterious way (that word again!), I exist simultaneously in a multitude of universes, in some of which, at least, I do not make the same mistakes. But that is probably wishful thinking. I suspect that Time will stop for me at some point in the not distant future, and my regrets will not matter.

That’s why I say – Begin!

 

Death’s Blue-Eyed Boy

My father was certain
What would happen.
“Like snuffing out a candle,” he’d say.
“Like turning out all the lights in the world at once.”

I have a different take on death:
I think I’ll pass
Into an alternate universe,
Where I’ll get another chance
To do it right.

My Introduction to Politics – Part One

I don’t remember not being able to read.   I do have a clear memory ( I was two or three) of being lifted up and placed in the center of a big bed — covered in one of those old-fashioned bedspreads with raised embroidery.   My father surrounded me with what seemed like a sea of comic books and told me to learn to read them.

And learn I did. I’m not sure how I did it — I have no memory of anyone sounding out letters for me.  I could tell you that I seem to remember words being spelled out for me, but I can’t be sure it isn’t an invented memory, created as I try to puzzle out this question…in any event , it doesn’t have the same clarity in my mind as the being placed on the bed memory.   My best guess is that, with help from my parents, I matched the pictures to the words.

Flash forward a few years.  It’s 1950, and I’m in New Orleans on a  trolley with my father.  he’s taking me to a drugstore near the Tulane University campus, where he’s a graduate student in mathematics.  I’ve received a few dollars for my sixth birthday, and I’m to be allowed to spend it on comic books — Donald Duck and Little Lulu are my favorites.  We get off the trolley after a short ride, and I’m left by myself for a while to look through the comic books — I call them “funny books”, like everyone else in that part of the world at the time.   My eye is caught by something anomalous sitting in the nearby magazine racks, along with Time and Life, and The Saturday Evening Post.

It’s a strange little book, shaped like one of today’s paperbacks, entitled “POGO” with a drawing of a winsome possum on the cover.  When I opened it up, it was filled with comic strips organized into stories that seemed to have more of a point than I was used to in the Sunday comics, home to Prince Valiant (boring) and Li’l Abner (often funny, but also often boorish – not that i knew what boorish meant in those days).  Howland Owl, Albert the Alligator and Pogo the Possum seemed much more, well , human, than Scrooge Mc Duck.    Then there was Wile E. Coyote.  Even at the age of six, I could tell that there was something wrong with the way he wanted to run the swamp.  It would be a few years before i realized that he looked just like  Senator Joe McCarthy…

(To be continued)