Saturday, 15 January 2011

To everything there is a time and a season

When I took my daily walk in the park yesterday (still keeeping to New Year resolutions) I reflected on some day walking clockwise and another day counterclockwise, just for a change. It struck me that the words "clockwise" and "counterclockwise" must feel very strange for today's children because they don't know how to read the old-fashioned, non-digital clocks. Once upon a time, a mother would ask another mother: "Can your child read the clock yet?" Reading the clock was part of pre-school development tests. There were dozens of educational books, boring and exiting, involving clocks. But the other day our middle son told everybody on Facebook that his four-year-old boy woke him up saying: "It's 8.23, time to get up". I am proud of this clever grandchild, but I am a bit melancholy too. I have always disliked digital clocks, because you can clearly see time disappearing forever. In an analogue clock it comes back every twelve hours (yes, yes, I know...)

My favourite of my own books is From Mythic to Linear which is about the development of children's literature from archaic concept of time as recurrent, reversible, eternal - kairos, as in "a time and a season", the time of the Returning God; toward the linear, one-directional, irreversible time, chronos, leading to growing up, ageing and dying. Although I know that time is irreversible, classic clocks provide a sense of security. It is ten o'clock right now, and it will be ten o'clock tomorrow morning again.

I will not think about belonging to the last generation of non-digitnal clocks. I'll go and take a walk in the park. Counterclockwise.


anton said...

what kid doesn't know how to read a face clock? they probably won't use them, but they see them everywhere.

Clémentine B said...

I'm sure all kids still learn to read face clocks! That said, I'm really bad at reading them. I can't figure out the time without the numbers. I finally learnt to read clocks more than 4 years after I learnt to read. True story.