Time is an Adversary, Awareness is Torture
Revisiting a classic, The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock, provided me more insight than a thousand Ted talks.
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
T. S. Eliot
Claim Your Time
The industrial revolution did not postpone the inevitable but made the process feel relatively longer.
In the wake of assembly lines, big hulking factories, human emotion was bound to be crushed. Factory chimneys spitting toxic clouds, engines of all sorts blatantly draping over the scenery were something to be proud of at those times. We love anything novel.
It was also deemed that, craftsmanship meant nothing. We did not need man, we needed his body parts. People were reduced to machinery. People were working at a car factory, assembling the same piece every day for years, they are always stuck at that moment.
They have never created a car themselves. They are frozen at that god forbidden moment. Half of their lives are dedicated to recreating that single frozen moment again and again. That was the dignified life. Shut down your mind, gulp up at night and sleep to wake up to a new day.
It was not prevalent back then but it is now. Generations finally came to realize that we are in an evergoing battle between being left behind and trying to be the first in this mindless race. This is exactly what the poet has caught so elegantly just before WW1 broke out. Yet another act of turning man into machinery, making him lose not only his ideals, imagination and dreams but also his physical body. He sought intellectual development. That is the essence that makes us.
WW1 was the last nail on the coffin with the destruction of society and the physical body of the human being nothing was left. Modernism was born with the age of machines and it had to seep into people’s everyday life just like the machinery.
Time is an adversary. It is always marching forward, bringing your sinister unknown expiration date closer, torturing souls by constantly reminding them that their life is wasted away, their death is approaching and they are being destructed day by day.
Although Eliot never fought on the front lines he experienced it probably as much as any soldier, ignorance is bliss, awareness is torture.
Torture devices are coffee spoons. His hair, his life. Whatever that reminds you that you have effectively wasted your life and bound to die soon, whatever tells you the time, becomes a torture device.
Constant existence in purgatory.
Being denied heaven being denied hell. Knowing you will end up eventually. Entropy. We are random acts of motions being carried away in evergoing destruction of everything.
In the room, the women come and go/Talking of Michelangelo
Grimmest of all is there is no revenge. You can’t find comfort in knowing that even after you perish, it is going to disappear, killed, destroyed by someone no. Time does not give you that. “There will be time” he wrote.
You, him, her, the king, the god no one has power over it. It is static, dynamic, in motion, still. You can not “Dare” to “disturb the universe” the second you think of it, you have already lost a minute -what a sick joke-
“In a minute there is time/For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse” a minute of your time. You are a minute closer to your destruction even by trying to think about having some impact. Should we be stagnant then.
Tortoises live long, because they are slow, stagnant. They move rarely, they do not act upon, they are not excited. They live long but they die eventually. Could they not?
I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,/And in short, I was afraid.
What if we could find a middle ground in between. That slight second between executing an action and standing still, would that “paralysis” be our way out of this roller coaster?
Weep all you want, pray all you want, sacrifice, heed his words all you want, you were nothing and going to perish into nothing. Your actions, thoughts, flesh, memories, relationships are going to be erased.
There are numerous questions in the poem. Most go unanswered obviously, few do not have answers at all. Some questions indicate and invoke weakness. Some are cleverly formed questions hunting down a problem. Maybe trying to way out of the loneliness posed by the time. Alienation of self, asking and begging each other to be unified once more. Maybe just exploring why the idea of death, your life dripping away does not drive us crazy. How a factory forces a worker to waste away his life and dreams, how a country orders away her youth to waste away his life on the sharp end of a bayonet.
Each of our lives are ellipses, spiraling down into aposiopesis. … … … .. .. .. . .
This piece is dedicated to my purgatorial state:
My father had passed away this January. I did not fancy, looked up or down to him. I have watched the CCTV footage of him dying of a stroke. It was the first and last time i had seen him in 10 years. Footage did not hit me because i loved or pitied him. It hit me because it reminded me of my own mortality compressed into a video file ever present in that flash drive.
Claim your time.