clocks and mirrors

“Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.”

– Percy Bysshe Shelley

Clocks and mirrors are two ‘gadgets’ people have used for a long long time. A mirror is a reflective device. A clock is a measurement of time. The earliest known use of mirror, or a reflective device, goes back to about 6000 BC using polished reflective stone such as obsidian. As long ago as 30,000 years, peoples were measuring time using the phases of the moon. From sun dials to digital watches, our inherent capacity to measure time is expressed outwardly with gadgets.

Time is a mystery. A relative mystery. A mystery that is our master for are we not all slaves of time? Are we not scheduled by the clock. Subject to the circadian rhythms of life, generally sleeping at night and awake during the day. The Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Hindus, to name a few, all have a ‘God of Time.’ The Greek name for the God of Time is Chronos which is the basis of the word chronology, the demarcation of benchmarks and milestones, and chronograph, a mapping of incremental time periods. The Hindu God of Time is Kala and may be the root for the word ‘calendar’ measuring months, years, eras and ages. Time measurement is of course dependent upon one’s ‘time consciousness.’ The time consciousness of an adult is different than that of a child, or that of a sorcerer. Time consciousness alters depending on state of mind, mood, intensity of experience, or lack thereof. Our experience of time is illusive, deceptive and ever outside our grasp, despite our attempts to contain it, with gadgets.

How to measure the time of one’s life? In years? If one lives to be 90 years of age, does it feel the same to say that one has lived for 32,850 days, or 788,400 hours, or 47,304,000 minutes, or 2,838,240,000 seconds, or 9 decades? The average adult breath rate is 16 times/minute. Can we measure one’s life in breaths? 90 cycles around the sun would then be equivalent to about 756,864,000 breaths in a lifespan of 9 decades. Gadgets are available that measure time in fractions of a second, which can make the difference in a time sensitive competition such as races. If you believe you are a member of a species race, then time is of importance to you. If it’s not a race, time is less important.

The mirror, as a gadget for and a symbol of, self reflection has been around as long as there have been still pools of water, and a person to look into the water. The Greeks have a myth about this named Narcissus. A character becomes enamored of his own reflection in a pool of water. Narcissus is not the only important character in this thematic myth. Echo is the rejected lover of Narcissus, who is too absorbed in his own reflection to bother with his suitor. Echo is rejected and forelorn, she withers away, leaving nothing but her fading voice.Their are generally two endings to the myth one with Narcissus drowning in the pool, and the other him being transformed into a flower, named after him. The moral of the story may be we can get too absorbed in gadgets and neglect the echo of our consciousness.

Gadgets are one of those creations that sets us apart from the lower animals. We have gadgets that run other gadgets, which run other gadgets. We are gadget makers. We have evolved from homo sapien to homo gadgetus. Perhaps one of our most dexterious gadgets are our hands, and fingers. Gadgets have the potential to make one’s personal day to day life extra-ordinarily convenient, efficient, economical, creative and pleasant. As is the case with all gadgets, all technology, how it is used is in the hands of the user, and can be misused. With so many gadgets though, you’d think creativity, happiness, comfort and ease would be the norm. And yet, with so many gadgets, we seem to be drowning in anxieties and depressions, not to mention an excessive amount of violence. Smash the mirror and break the clock. Existence is more than seeing reflections and measuring time. Life is more than clocks and mirrors.

“The hours of folly are measured by the clock; but of wisdom, no clock can measure.”

– William Blake


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