#FPQ 178: Time

After a week’s hiatus because I don’t do politics here, I’m back because Fandango has a question on a subject that’s near and dear to my heart: when did time actually begin?

Regular readers will recognize this graphic, which I use so frequently that I’ve made it into a reusable block…

And another favorite quote.

In other words, time began when we invented it. It might be man’s greatest invention, and it’s certainly a handy thing to have around. Many of the arts and sciences wouldn’t be possible without a reliable method of deciding “when.”

I keep getting this image of Salvador Dali’s painting, The Persistence Of Memory, which I won’t embed here because the legalese has me scared that, if I don’t attribute it properly, the Copyright Police will come and drag me off to the gas chamber. But the text is interesting…

The well-known surrealist piece introduced the image of the soft melting pocket watch. It epitomizes Dalí’s theory of “softness” and “hardness”, which was central to his thinking at the time. As Dawn Adès wrote, “The soft watches are an unconscious symbol of the relativity of space and time, a Surrealist meditation on the collapse of our notions of a fixed cosmic order”. This interpretation suggests that Dalí was incorporating an understanding of the world introduced by Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Asked by Ilya Prigogine whether this was in fact the case, Dalí replied that the soft watches were not inspired by the theory of relativity, but by the surrealist perception of a Camembert melting in the sun.

Basically, Dali believed that time was a Camembert melting in the sun, a description I think we can all live with…

Tally-ho and away we go!
See you next week with a brand new show!

24 thoughts on “#FPQ 178: Time

  1. IMO, time is relative. “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ― Mother Theresa


  2. Now I have this MacArthur Park thing going on in my head:
    “Camembert is melting in the light
    All the pungent ripeness flowing down
    Time is just a cheese out in the sun
    I don’t think that I can eat it
    ‘Cause it took so long to heat it
    And I’ll never have that time back again, oh, no”
    I could go on. :-)


      1. “And I’ll never have that time back again, oh, no” … seriously, thanks for that. I miss SCTV.


  3. While I’ve always known that ‘time’ was the invention of man, I never thought about it. I certainly don’t like being a slave to time, but I do like having the structure it gives in my day. I think it keeps us sane. :)


  4. I love the first quote, especially. I’m currently playing around with the idea of time in a very early-stages novel. My main character can rise above it, although that provides a whole set of specific problems. That’s why it’s still in the early stages and not pelting along at full speed :-)


  5. Now we need to hear the Rolling Stones sing about Time. Time is all relative. We hate waiting in lines because it takes up out Time but we can watch a movie or be on YouTube and not realize how fast time went by.


    1. And “Time (Clock Of The Heart)” by Culture Club, “Time Has Come Today” by the Chambers Brothers, “Time In A Bottle” by Jim Croce, “Time Is Tight” by Booker T & The MG’s …


  6. So Dali saw the watches as metaphors for the time or sequence that goes by while the cheese, in fact, progressively melts if the temperature remains warm enough.

    It is quite fun* to recognize clocks don’t make reality or time. Yet… as a banana is what it is before we give it a “name” or terminology or slice it in half inches, time is.

    (and profound)


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