IMYS #25 - Constructs of Time

Paying my Daylight Savings tax

What does it mean to move forward and backward in time? We simply wake up to some smart device telling us that we’ve moved backward in time. Then, we pad around the house correcting all the dumb devices: the microwave, the oven, the coffee maker. We tell them, “No, we’ve gained a magical hour. What good can come of this?”

That our clocks moved during the witching hour just after a blue moon Halloween should give us pause. Did we extend the witching hour? Do the witches know? Does the poltergeist leave moist footprints halfway in to our bedroom before wincing, “Shit. It’s daylight savings. Be back in a bit.” Then, it rotates its feet completely around cracking the ankles and walking on knees bending the wrong way giving a small bow of apology.

Most of us lie in that delightful oblivion of sleep as the clocks change. Given that time as we know it is simply a broken mathematical model, we pass this magic hour in ignorance. Our circadian rhythms are clumsily modified and the tension flows out as frustration, short tempers, or simply a sick day later in the week. We show up late to meetings we don’t want to attend with the easy excuse, “the time change,” throwing up our hands to a wall of faces on a screen.

I spent a large part of my life searching for that liminal space between some concrete reality and the designer oblivion of id-driven abandon. I still push at those edges between the corporate, scientific structure of a “successful” person and the ragged chaos of a life in pursuit of beauty and art. This is a tension that’s quite frankly tough to manage. It manifests in my muscles and my more esoteric bodily processes. It shows up in the sometimes cantankerous or, more charitably, idiosyncratic way I go about my professional career. There is a yearning unfulfilled.

This magical hour then might be a chance where in some cosmic sense, I can exist comfortably in both states. My brain sorts through the artistic impulse while the body rests an extra hour to prepare for the requirements and responsibilities of the day. Maybe a lot of us are in this airlock between what we want to be and what we’ve become. There’s safety through one door and a vast universe of the unknown through the other.

If the magic hour of daylight savings lets us briefly exist in a nowhere of both possibilities, how do we capture that freedom and opportunity in all the hours of the year? How do we make our lives into the shape our hearts crave?

I think the answer is being radically vulnerable. If we show up to each situation as the self we can live with, rather than the self that others might want to live with, we might make a dent in space/time that looks a lot more like the shape of our soul.

It’s November. The election is two days away. The trees don’t know. The birds don’t know. Maybe it’s OK if we forget for just a magic hour.


Movies to See Once

There’s a class of movies that you see and they stick with you possibly in ways you’d rather they didn’t. Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream is one of those movies for me. I watched it on DVD one warm, late night living in a mobile home amidst the dark woods of north Georgia. That isolated darkness echoed the grim subject matter of addiction. The direction spares nothing, nothing at all. At the end of the movie, I had to take a walk out into the night. I went to pet the horses at the edge of our property. I woke up the farm dogs and laid in the grass with them. I needed to be surrounded by life and vitality. I took a long shower and fitfully fell to sleep sitting in a chair as the sun came up. I’ll never watch the movie again and I’ll never forget it.

Requiem for a Dream at 20

There’s Always Time to Bloom

Folk-punk? Post-rock? Twee-rock? I don’t know how to classify the music of The Front Bottoms. Even their name is a too-cute pun. Still, the power of the lyric and the ramshackle energy is compelling. This track, “everyone blooms,” leads off their latest album, In Sickness & In Flames. The title might refer to this year of our lord, 2020. There’s a positivity that falls from the dual vocals and the occasionally anthemic song structures. This is among my favorite records of the year.

Listen to everyone blooms

Buy Some Art

A post shared by @gbenzur
October 8, 2020

Y’all know that I recently moved. I’ve been looking for some art to put on the walls of my office. My taste in art is eccentric to say the best. I largely respond emotionally and it’s hard to pin down what will grab me. However, a great friend, Gabe Benzur, is a painter in New York. I was lucky enough to be able to buy a triumvirate (trilogy?)[not a triptych] of paintings that respond to recent protests and state violence. The subject matter is challenging but what I love about the paintings is the energy that Benzur’s brushstrokes echo in the scenes he depicts. I also have been told about the pigments used and their history and composition. Further, it’s wonderful to have art that a friend has made in the house. But, if you’re into something a little goofier, I also just bought some of these prints.

Check out Gabe Benzur's art

On the Nose

It’s not like I want to think about the pandemic. But, I can’t avoid it. On the news. In emails. Everyone in masks. So, it’s hard to explain why I watched this Russian TV show, To the Lake. It is definitely about a pandemic but it excels, as the best genre shows/books/movies do, at showing the fraying of a group of people both family and happenstance. Specifically, the love triangle at the center of the story is complicated and revealed in incredibly well-placed flashbacks. The frozen landscape adds to the bleakness and the despair. The season ends with a hell of a cliffhanger.

Watch To the Lake

History. On Repeat.

Thomas Cole’s The Course of Empire: Desolation, 1836. Courtesy New York Historical Society/Wikipedia

We know the phrase, “…doomed to repeat…” and this review of three books about the fall of Rome shows us that there are many reasons a decadent and visionless empire might fall. The drama is compelling enough and there is no shortage of parallels to the times we live in. Maybe that’s always true? Perhaps empires are always ascending and descending and we only find them similar to ours because of whether we are on the winning or losing end of the change.

Read No Barbarians Necessary

Just Can’t Win

Yes, I’ve been listening to a lot of older country. There are some incredible songs and wonderful singers. Earl Thomas Conley is certainly in that category. “Can’t Win for Losing You,” is one of my favorites with its combination of soul sounds and phrasing with a slightly country guitar through line. It fits Conley’s voice perfectly with its melancholy yearning. The turn of phrase is often overdone but it works here.

Listen to Can't Win for Losing You


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Your guide,

Alex