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Train of Thought: Time

Summary and thoughts on "The Tyranny of Time" by Joe Zadeh

For many of us, COVID distorted time. Being trapped at home, losing our routines - we lost track of the hours and the days. However, the clock kept ticking.

In the natural world, the movement of “hours” or “weeks” is irrelevant. But the true impact of natural changes like global warming are beyond our understanding because we are devoted to a scale of time that is relevant to nothing except humans.

“The clock does not measure time; it produces it”. Clock time was created by the British imperial system so that the colonies could function in synchrony. It allowed for modern capitalism, so trains and goods and ships could arrive and depart “on time”.

Present day: people feel shame if they ate before noon even if they are hungry, the sun sets at Midnight in Xinjiang, and instead of listening to the sun, moon and our circadian rhythm we live by the Clock. We make money by “clocking in time”.

Women have been at the wrong end of this arbitrary metric. Unpaid labor, like housework and childcare, slip between the measurements since they never “put their time in”.

The second, as a unit, was redefined in the 1950s not as a fraction of the Earth’s orbit around the sun but a specific number of oscillations of cesium atoms inside an atomic clock.

Did you know every year they add a leap second to our clocks so that it’s close enough to Earth’s rotations? And that in 2023, they might stop doing that. So, we’ll be completely asynchronous to nature.

All this to say we all don’t experience time at the same steady pace. We don’t remember the past based on the hour or day of the week but rather the people and the emotion. Use time to measure your day but don’t let it run your life. Enjoy this event while it’s occurring instead of being anxious that you’ll be late for the next one. Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re sleepy, and stop reading already :)

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