A Quirky Clock That Doesn’t Track Time
The conspiracy of Time and how to let go
One of the defining characteristics of entries on my list of ideas I’m mulling is that they keep popping up in my thoughts over time, whenever my brain has some idle time before bed or while folding laundry. Clocks, calendars, time, and various alternative ways to think about our relationship to the natural cycles of Earth are all related topics that I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night thinking about.
Every once in a while one of these stray mullings leads to a burst of motivation and I’ll get obsessed for a weekend, or sometimes longer, trying to figure something out about it.
This last weekend it was this idea of a “clock” that used the convention of a 12-hour time-keeping device, but instead of representing hours it just represented the location of the sun and moon from a given location.
Imagine the horizon as a line extending between where the 9 and 3 usually are. The sun and moon both rise in the east (9) and set in the west (3) and then travel out of sight (4–8) before rising again in the east (9).
The only meaningful markings on this clock are the events of rising and setting. While these details can be represented in Official Clock Time, using a normal clock, we’re ignoring that here. Here they’re really just recurring perceptions that we can witness by looking East or West during certain parts of the day (assuming it isn’t too cloudy and there aren’t any other obstructions between you and the horizon).
The rising and setting of the sun and moon have nothing to do with Official Clock Time. Rather, Official Clock Time is something humans came up with and bolted on to the rising and setting of the sun and moon in order to establish order over the natural, and weird, and disordered chaos of things.
Time is a conspiracy! 🤡
Okay maybe I won’t go that far (not yet, at least) but there’s something quite satisfying about letting go (even for a brief second) of Official Clock Time and instead re-connecting with the wobbly activities of the sun and moon. After mulling this for a while, and trying to understand rhythms in nature like days, months, and years, as they exist independent of…