Tuesday, August 28, 2007


WHY I HATE MY WATCH:
A TAKEOFF FROM 'THE TYRANNY OF THE CLOCK'
I hate my watch !. It's an instrument of evil placed on this Earth for no other reason than to torment me. Why ? Let me explain.
Molly lives in a very high speed way. You might say that, if she had studied the martial arts under a master in Japan that she was urged to "follow the way of the ant". In other words everything in this world, from quasars to protozoans can be divided into at most two categories- "done and not done". Yes Sensei I will follow the way of the ant.
Living this way for too long can warp your view of reality. I actually (I'm not kidding !) listen to the NRC time signal to time how many seconds my watch is off. The last timing was 51 seconds fast. I also memorize the timings so I can determine the rate at which my watch loses or gains time. I never bother to try and "set" the bastard. By the time you fumble enough with a digital watch you have lost seconds that puts you off anyways. This obsession with time is appropriate for anyone who is a perpetual rush. I only get a wake up call from interactions with those for whom time has a totally different meaning. For instance, when I tell somebody that I will be at their place "between 2 and 3" and they are phoning me at 2:00:01 to "see where I am", thereby making me somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes late if I actually answer the page and bother to phone back or about 5 minutes late if I simply pull off the road to answer the page and forget about phoning them back. Most people are actually quite pleasant about their anxiety. The only people that I meet that are genuinely abusive are from the "helping professions" ie social workers who are so used to giving victims orders that they can't exist in an atmosphere of free economic interaction. The price goes up for you buggers. Then there are those who want to argue about time as in "how much time does it take to come by and do X,Y or Z". They are usually totally uncomprehending when I snap back "negative 45 minutes". In other words if they would use the immense psychic power that they devote to arguing with me about my schedule to reverse the laws of the Universe and travel back 45 minutes in time...yes I would be able to drop by (or sometimes it's up to 2 hours). I never see people like this. They will also argue about price and every other thing under the Sun, and not getting them off the phone as quickly as possible is an occasion of guilt for "wasting life".
Yet, most of the anxiety in my life is not from an external source but rather from some sort of internal clock by which I run my life. I've learned over the years to be insistent on "time zones" rather than exact times so I can plan my day, and planning from time spent with patient to time driving is an absolute necessity in what I do. the clock is governed by the watch that I wear, and I've learned to hate it with a deep passion.
Lately this evil metallic demon has been cutting into the flesh of my wrist. NO this is not a psychosomatic reaction. The wristband is falling apart, and it takes surgical skill to put it back on. But I take it off the minute that I am "off the pager" and at home. The sensation is wonderful. My whole body seems lighter. The world has much more immediacy and brighter contrast and colour. When I finally do get a new wristband I will continue to shed this millstone at every chance and not just in the bath.
Hey, you think I'm bad; let me tell you the story of one of my nephews. The man put in his dues as a vice president of the New Democratic Youth (long after I had left the Party in disgust). When he finally graduated he went to "collect his dues" ie a soft easy government job with the provincial government that would pay him a large salary for doing very little and accomplishing absolutely nothing. The problem was 1)the "job" was much too obviously a do-nothing pay the hack back job and 2)his years in the Party hadn't extinguished morality in him totally (after all he squealed to me about his "job interview" where the first question posed was his relationship to me) . The "job" bothered him. He actually-I shit you not- developed an "allergy" to government documents. This wasn't the sort of bullshit that you get from new-age trendies who claim "chemical sensitivity". It was real. I saw the deep fissures in his hands that he developed from handling government nonsense. NO, it was not fakery. the fissures were deep and often bleeding, something like the "stigmata" that Catholic saints develop ( not the vague complaints of the new Agers). Yes, his immune system was being influenced by his psychological state. He simply could not stand the degree of lying that the job demanded. This was not a permanent disruption of his immune system. He quit working for the government and became an accountant and manager for private business where at least the dishonesty is simple, clear and not so ulcer producing. He could handle any document or ink in the private sector. All that I can say from this is that in the judgement of history he was a far better anarchist than I have ever been-even if he never claimed the label. The most dramatic reaction that a government statement can produce in me is gut pains. Not even nausea. Let alone a dermatological reaction.
Very few people are under the time pressure that I am day to day. Some, however, are under even worse pressure, and most people today are under a sort of pressure that is contradictory to the way that we evolved. NO "psychoboo" will eliminate this bad fit. there is no "yap yap"-counselling that can go against objective biological reality, no matter what the hubris of the "technicians of the mind". Humans are not meant to live their lives "by the minute". It's a violation of the nature of the species.
So...I urge readers to read George Woodcock's 'The Tyranny of the Clock' for the classical anarchist view on this. See also Molly's 'Texts' section for the link. Someday maybe we can all toss away our watches. Liberty means freedom from the tyranny of time as well as the tyranny of people.

2 comments:

eugene plawiuk said...

Ah time for another shameless plug. I also wrote on clocks and Woodcocks article. See my Tyrant Time-Tempus Fug'it

Werner said...

Watches are even worse than television. At least the second one isn't in your face when your trying to be productive. I manage to lose my watch on a semi-regular basis but always seem to find it again. Too bad.