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by Tom Stoppard

Arcadia Time Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene)

Quote #1

Thomasina: You can't stir things apart.
Septimus: No more you can, time must needs run backward, and since it will not, we must stir our way onward mixing as we go, disorder out of disorder into disorder until pink is complete, unchanging and unchangeable, and we are done with it forever. This is known as free will or self-determination. (1.1)

Wait a minute – Septimus is talking about two entirely different things here, the Second Law of Thermodynamics and free will. Or perhaps he's making an ironic connection – even if we do have free will in the short term, the Second Law means we'll all eventually end up as mush anyway.

Quote #2

Thomasina: If you could stop every atom in its position and direction, and if your mind could comprehend all the actions thus suspended, then if you were really, really good at algebra you could write the formula for all the future; and although nobody can be so clever as to do it, the formula must exist just as if one could. (1.1)

If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? And if an equation exists, but no one can calculate it out, does it matter?

Quote #3

[stage direction] During the course of the play the table collects this and that, and where an object from one scene would be an anachronism in another (say a coffee mug) it is simply deemed to have become invisible. By the end of the play the table has collected an inventory of objects. (1.2)

Yes, in a play, stage directions are up for analysis too. The table is an interesting illustration of what the play says in other ways as well: that what survives to the end is not necessarily complete, or even important. Yet, while the table and its accumulation of things may seem random, these objects have survived from the past into the present through a logical progression of history.

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