by Ernest Lilley
SFRevu Column ISBN/ITEM#: 0503EL
Date: March 1, 2005 / Show Official Info /
Time marches on. Here we are already in the third month of the year and around the corner is spring. How did that happen? All too quickly for my taste. The good news is that this means a lot is going on, since time only drags when there's nothing to distract us.
The young of the species (and if you're one of them, you have my great admiration, expectations and sympathies) haven't filled their lives up with obligations and commitments...things they want to get done. Instead their lives are full of things others want them to do...and when you're doing time...it drags.
THREEPIO: I don't think so, sir. I'm only a droid and not very knowledgeable about such things. Not on this planet, anyways. As a matter of fact, I'm not even sure which planet I'm on.
LUKE: Well, if there's a bright center to the universe, you're on theplanet that it's farthest from.
Luke, of course is young and placed in chafing harness by his uncle, who is no longer young, and knows how dangerous the universe really is. Like many adults, though, his uncle makes the mistake of thinking that he can make Luke safe by protecting him from his youth...and well...it can't really be done.
Kahil Gibran's The Prophet which is a collection of well considered thoughts about life written by a Lebanese poet, philosopher and artist, gives a passage on children that's stuck with me since a former paratrooper turned school librarian turned me on to it over three decades ago.
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Would that actual religious texts could make so much sense to me.
Now of course, if Luke's uncle had processed this, his nephew might well have wound up as the unsavory character in the spaceport bar predicted. While Uncle Owen would have been please to hear that Luke planned to be more careful in the future, the prognostication that he would, instead be dead is much more likely.
For the story, it's good that parent's don't get it. It creates tension. For the kids, it's good parents don't get it as well, as it creates barriers to external threats on the one hand and a safe harbor to learn to challenge authority in on the other. So, from a certain point of view, it all works out.
The problem in Luke's case is not that Owen is too protective, but that he doesn't know how to let go. Fortunately for Luke, the Empire solves that problem for him. Not quite so fortunately for Owen and his wife, whom we see briefly as smoking corpses early in the film.
But I was talking about subjective time and relativity, though not Einsteinian. Time is something that passes in events, and the more events we have the faster it flows. I'd like to see how it's perceived by the old, who may not see it slow because they've lost cognitive abilities, and can't identify events.
And as Bob Dylan points out,
We sit beside bridges and walk beside fountains,
Catch the wild fishes that float through the stream,
Time passes slowly when you're lost in a dream.
I expect I'll have the chance to test that out in a few more decades. But right now, I feel more like a character in a song by John Prine, a twangy philosopher I've always been fond of, who often manages to state the obvious...something that tends to get overlooked.
So I can figure out the other four.
OK. I feel better now. Time may still be whizzing by, but at least another issue of SFRevu is done and online, and thanks to the efforts of the crew, it's a pretty good issue at that. Be sure to check out the columns, and one or two things in Media might interest you...and don't miss our interview with Edward Lerner who's written an engaging first contact yarn in Moonstruck.
The cartoon that this column leads off with is by noted cartoonist Alexis Gilliland, who's going to be doing a regular feature here on SFRevu starting next month, and I think you'll like what he's got for us.
Meanwhile, time is still marching on, and I'd better get working on the next issue, plus a zillion (which was a big number before we heard of a google) other projects I can't resist.