Sunday, October 26, 2008

Time and Space

As I was getting ready to go meet my friends Kathy and Larry at the Tate Modern today, the clock on my computer said one thing, the clock on my (nonfunctional-in-the-UK) cell phone said another, and the clock on the kitchen stove still another. I decided to believe the cell phone, which was still on Houston time, added six hours, and headed for the museum. Victoria Station was insane, hundreds of people in line for very few trains, as there was some kind of melt-down or construction. I got a cab, and the driver and I talked about our favorite leather bars along the way, and got to the huge re-purposed power plant that's now the Tate. I waited on a parapet where you can look down onto people entering the vast hall where the turbines used to be. It's a long sloping vastness through which adults trudge, but when children enter this they just start running, spinning or dancing. From above, people seem to be knotting and unknotting in beautiful patterns; from that distance, you almost forget they're individuals. They seem like elements in a design that braids and refigures itself.

I watched this for a long time, looking up for my friends, and then a man asked me to take a picture of him and his wife, so I asked him what time it was, and discovered I'd arrived an hour early. I wandered around then came back, but this time Kathy and Larry were actually late, because of the train situation. So I watched the people some more, getting hypnotized by them, and when my lovely friends appeared I tried to explain to them how I didn't know what time it was, and I immediately realized that the import of this statement was not available from my words. I meant, I was detached from clock-time by travel, and then I was detached from body-time by watching the stream of the living in their black coats and red scarfs, weaving in and out, the babies tumbling on the floor, the happy fathers getting down there with them, people pushing wheelchairs down the ramp, people hurrying up and out into the rain.


Mark Doty said...

Postscript: Kathy e-mailed me later to tell me that daylight savings time started in the UK today! So my confusion wasn't as metaphysical as I thought, though it felt like it.

Collin Kelley said...

Tate Modern is one of the most beautiful places in London. I love to go upstairs to the restaurant and bar and just sit there looking at the view across the Thames to St. Paul's Cathedral. Sigh.

shoppista said...

I think Whitman would like this blog entry!