Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Waiting


I took this photograph on my way back from the psychotherapists' festive lunch. The way everyone was hurrying onto the platform, I thought the train was due - but no! So I sculled around, looking for an image opportunity. The scene reminded me of duration - perceived time. Even ten minutes might seem a long time to wait if there's nothing much to do or see. My hero Gaston Bachelard observed that temporal phenomena must "each be studied according to its appropriate rhythm and from its particular point of view". The psyche isn't linear and its continuity is in doubt. More likely it is based on a plurality of durations, a series of instants like the one represented above. This is recognised in Irish traditon. Some of those who entered the Otherworld - the sid - felt that they had been away only a few days. But when they returned, they had aged hundreds of years and fell dead. Heroes however, felt they had visited for days but had only been gone hours. The feast of Samain marked the beginning of the Celtic year. By ending one and starting the next it belonged to neither. Feasts are intense moments and attempt to escape time - but cannot prolong its duration. How long did I have to wait for the train? Ten minutes. How long did it feel ? Ages. But the duration was bounded. Even though I made my own duration, I couldn't escape time.