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Dunbeath: Week 5 – 8 March

I’m in mourning this week. Not, let me hasten to add, for anything serious: but I just discovered that Groucho Marx never actually said “Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana”, and a little part of me died. And it got me thinking (again) about time, and what it truly is. I mean, I know that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity proved that time is money, and they both get spent really fast; but that doesn’t get me very far.

Pendant raindrops

The ancient Greeks had a more nuanced view of time than we do, with two words for it, chronos and kairos. Chronos time is our sort of time, the passing of seconds and minutes and hours, clock time; what the poet Waters meant by “Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day/ You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way”. Kairos time, on the other hand, is special time, the right time, the time when choosing to act can change the course of your life. This is the sort of time Ecclesiastes is referring to when he says that to every thing there is a season, a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted, etc. Kairos time is deep time, numinous time, the opportune moment, and it’s not measured on any clock. I can’t help thinking it says something about us that we don’t seem to feel the lack of a word for it. (Mind you, the ancient Greeks didn’t have a word for leg-spin bowling so I’m not saying there weren’t things they couldn’t learn from us too.)

Snowdrop Galaxy

Well, somewhere between chronos and kairos for me is knitting ganseys, an activity that rather takes me outside time. In fact, it’s possible that I have replaced the clock as a measure of the passing of time with ganseys. Howsobeit, the current project is well on the way to completion, with the shoulders joined, the collar completed and the first sleeve well underway (ah, the joys of 3-hour Zoom meetings with the camera and microphone switched off). You’ll note, by the way, that the sleeve pattern band is deeper than any of the yoke panels; but as this was the case in the original I’m following, I feel it’s OK.

Lookout on the Lighthouse

“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me”, Shakespeare’s Richard II laments after his deposition, as he waits to be executed. (One of the main reasons I chose archivist as a profession as opposed to, say, monarch, was that the chance of another archivist landing at Milford Haven with an army of mercenaries to overthrow me was, I always felt, slim.) And when I look back on my life, ganseys aside, the words time and waste do seem to seem to cover most of it (it’s actually very similar now, only with the word nuclear replacing time). But then, to quote Pink Floyd’s Time again, “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the Anglo-Scottish-Kiwi way/ The time is gone, the blog is over, thought I’d something more to say…”

12 comments to Dunbeath: Week 5 – 8 March

  • Felicity

    Pink Floyd a Kiwi?Forgive me, I know you are, Gordon.
    Felicity

  • Meg Macleod

    i think time has been eliminated for many people..you measure yours in ganseys…i wonder what others measure theirs by? Certainly the clock has become obsolete for the most part unless one needs to connect with outside world for an appointment and then that is an experience that leaves one wondering why?
    knitting ganseys, contemplating the lily….understanding a mushroom and how it relates to the world….important occupations that` take time ` and manipulate it into a rich variety of definitions…
    it is now fifth cup of tea-time….
    a bit ike the hobbits`s third breakfast scenario…. only molly my wee dog seems to have kept a notion of `time `in her own sweet way…. but i see that even she is learning to forget……

    • Gordon

      Hi Meg, time is just a label, like “apple” or “blue”. It can mean different things in different places. One idea is that it’s just a way of measuring the universe’s transition from from a hot to a cold state.

      I think using cups of teas a yardstick is as good a method as any, and you can never have too many breakfasts!

  • Dave

    Marx also said: “I get credit all the time for things I never said”. So, it seems only right and fitting. “Avoir le banane” is a fine French idiom – well worth knowing. Ask Mr Youtube. He’ll tell yer.

    • Gordon

      Hi Dave, wasn’t Karl the Marx Brother who said that proper tea is theft?Or was that Groucho?

      I looked up your idiom, unfortunately I used Quora and it got pretty risqué pretty quickly. Still, looking on the bright side, I now know the French for “Is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?”

  • Lois

    Time in this house is measured by dogs – not that they watch the clock, ( they measure by meal times, and they know EXACTLY when supper should be served) but by lifespans. After 45 years of various rescue companions, we lost our dear little cocker just at the start of the pandemic. With rescue mostly ground to a halt because of travel restrictions, it’s been a long long year.

    But a week ago a rescue Great Dane (my favourite breed) settled in like she had been here all her life. And there is joy in the house again with a big furry face looking up at me. And already knows the ropes – if Mum won’t give you treats, see Dad.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, dogs and cats make everything better, though the trauma of their passing can be difficult. I’ve yet to find a cat as regular as the German philosopher Kant, though, who was so orderly in his habits the citizens of Konigsberg used to literally set their clocks by him!

  • Ruan

    I have found time is being measured in green growth in the garden and a once weekly meeting! oh is it Wednesday again! even growing jumpers hasnt been a measure of time. I am in dire need of my work clock to watch for lunch and home time! love your geansaidh and am adding Gaelic to my collection of odd but useful skills.

    • Gordon

      Hi Ruan, as the old lady says in Joyce’s Ulysses when an English visitor speaks Gaelic to her, “I’m told it’s a grand language by them that knows”…

      I’m averaging 4-5 Microsoft Teams meetings a day just now and am seriously considering taking my computers up to the councils recycling centre for some serious recycling

  • =Tamar

    Someday I must learn to use Zoom. My time is measured in cups of coffee.

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