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Behind The Fiction, Past
A Fiction Column
By Michael G'Francisco


Isn’t “TIME” a creation of man’s imagination? Are not the past, present and future, the three dimensions we perceive to be “TIME”? And, does the word “TIME”, to a writer, mean at a critical or present moment? Let’s try to find out.

If a writer really wants to understand “TIME” one would have to read the French philosopher Henri-Louis Bergson’s essay “TIME and the FREE WILL” (1910). In it, he declares that human beings apprehend “TIME” not through intellect, but through intuition, and that they experience time as a continuous and flowing duration, rather than as a succession of separate steps. He presents a good polemic.

In literature, it’s generally perceived that the flow of time chiefly depends upon its perception by a subjective character. In certain novels, it becomes incessantly clear to the reader that “TIME” in any given plot can rebel or shall we say misbehave, by the cunning “make believe” on the part of a clever writer.

I, personally agree with Shakespeare in his Sonnet 16 in which he describes “TIME” as a bloody tyrant, and to quote him apart from this Sonnet, “human life is forever circumscribed by a hopeless struggle against it”. To further quote him, “Time is meaningless and is abreast to chasing the wind”. Oh man, how true, how true!

Sonnet 16 is one of the first 17 sonnets commonly referred to as the “recreation sonnets”. They seem to relate to “time, love and beauty” with number 16 pertaining to war against time while being youthful. Let’s see if we can catch his meaning.

But wherefore do not you a mightier way
make war upon this bloody tyrant, TIME?
And fortify yourself in your decay
with means more blessed than my barren rhyme?
Now, stand you on the top of happy hours,
and many maiden gardens yet unset
with virtuous wish would bear your living flowers,
much liker than your painted counterfeit:
So should the lines of life that life repair,
which this, time’s pencil, or my pupil pen,
neither in inward worth, nor outward fair,
can make you live yourself in eyes of men.
To give away yourself keeps yourself still,
And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill.

Let’s ponder a moment on Shakespeare’s play on “TIME” and allow me to present my thoughts:

When a person reads a novel, they make present events seems as though that are in the past and when they live their life, they often do the opposite and live in the present as if it were already in the past and to become the object of a future memory.

Whoa, maybe it’s best that I stop here and do a little defining:

DEFINITION OF TIME: A measuring system of a particular period or part of duration, whether past, present or future; a point or portion of duration: as, the time was, or has been; the time is, or will be.
Although, an interesting view has surfaced that relates: “TIME” is neither an event nor a thing, and thus is not itself measurable nor can it be traveled. Intriguing!

DEFINITION OF PAST: No longer current nor future.

DEFINITION OF PRESENT: Now existing, begun but not ended.

DEFINITION OF FUTURE: Yet to come, something that will exist.

As I stated earlier, in the literary world, objective “TIME” reigns supreme, a writer’s surprising twist to a story can become a puzzling deflection. The twist causes an illusion thus creates time for the writer to treat his reader to another page.

Linger on this: To a Geologic writer chronology can be nothing but an illusion to a reader because the past and the future are both implicit in the present; therefore the event (situation, etc.), the cause and the effect exist simultaneously. Simply put: the action in a story has no focus—nor is the action the focus.

If you wish some extraordinary and bizarre views on the concept of “TIME” check out Gene Ray’s website the TIME CUBE. But, be prepared for some way out thinking. Especially, when it comes to religions. Not my cup of tea.

“TIME” plays the most intriguing part in our everyday lives. Can we do anything without time? Think about it. Don’t we take time to: get up, get dressed, get to work, get the job done, get home, get supper, go to bed. And, how about time warp, time travel, time out, set our time clocks to Eastern, Central or Standard time, worry about the time of the day or the time of the year, sense of time, the axis of time, the essence of time, etc. Hell, I could go on for paragraphs noting the many ways we make use of the word “TIME”.

Now, that I’ve taken the “TIME “ to explain about “TIME” as a fiction, please allow me to finish my column with this statement, “The science of time is merely the refinement of everyday thinking”. That’s according to Albert Einstein.

Books to read: Time as Power: the social construction of time in modern fiction by Mark L. Homa (1997) Published by Tulane University and About Time: narrative, fiction and the philosophy of time by Mark Currie (2007) Edinburgh University Press.

I hope you found this column short, sweet and on time to the relevancy of “TIME”.

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