Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Staying Home #2

“Cover the mirror, look to the sky”

Right now I’m sitting at my desk because I told myself I would, that I’d sit down and write even if I didn’t have anything to say.

“Saturn is orbiting nothing” is the phrase that usually starts to rattle around my brain around this time, that is when my wife has been out of town for a few days.  It’s a mostly-nonsense phrase from an REM song, the natural habitat of many mostly-nonsense phrases.  I’m not sure what the metaphor is supposed to represent in the song but in my own mind it’s me, the way my I spin off into darkness when I’m alone with my kids without her.

There is a concept in physics called entanglement, when two photons come into contact and become part of the same system.  It’s tedious to try to explain why (and there really is no coherent arm-waving argument that can describe it anyway) but the entanglement of those two particles is the building block of what we call “time.”

Time does not exist until two entangled particles are observed separately by another observer.  Until that happens, the system is static, unchanging.  Once the observer becomes entangled with one of the particles, time begins.

This is all nonsense, of course.  It is the hanging of a human philosophical concept like “time” onto things that are in reality nothing but numbers and measurements and equations.  Nonetheless, it appears to be accurate, and has recently been experimentally confirmed.  Go figure.

There is a picture on my wall that my wife’s mother drew, many many years ago.  It is a picture of a man draped over the shrouded body of another person, a loved one.  We cannot see his face but his posture tells us he is distraught, devastated.

The man is wearing a watch on his left wrist.  His watch has always struck me as the point of the piece - his relationship with time has been changed forever.  He no longer has the luxury that I have, to wait for his love in scattered anticipation, wondering what will be left of her when she returns.

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