Douglas sprawled back on the dry
porch planks, completely contented and reassured by these voices, which would
speak on through eternity, flow in a stream of murmurings over his body, over
his eyelids, into his drowsy ears, for all time. (7.12)
Doug's a guy comforted by ritual, we got that. But here we
see him being comforted by a ritual he doesn't write down, which is, in a way,
even more poignant: We're building memories, becoming time machines, even when
we're not actively recording.
two things you did you should never have. You made quick things go slow and
stay around. You brought things faraway to our backyard where they don't
belong, where they just tell you, 'No, you'll never travel, Lena Auffmann,
Paris you'll never see! Rome you'll <em>never
</em>visit.' But I always knew that, so why tell me? Better to forget
and make do, Leo, make do, eh?" (13.111)
Do you think it's better to visit places virtually than not
at all? Or is it better to be content with a life confined by geography, so
long as you get to experience everything for real?
"I see all the things
happened in that house in all those years right here!" Bang! "All the
past, sure, but I can see the future, too. Just squinch up my eyes and peek
around at the patterns, there, to see where we'll be walking, running around,
Tom prefers to philosophize as he beats the rugs. We hear
that's how Plato cleaned, too.
"It won't work," Mr.
Bentley continued, sipping his tea. "No matter how hard you try to be what
you once were, you can only be what you are here and now. Time hypnotizes. When
you're nine, you think you've always been nine years old and will always be.
When you're thirty, it seems you've always been balanced there on that bright
rim of middle life. And then when you turn seventy, you are always and forever
seventy. You're in the present, you're trapped in a young now or an old now,
but there is no other now to be seen." (15.115)
Ah, Mr. Bentley's ghost, we love how unsentimental you are.
You're probably the kind of dude who tossed your baby teeth in the garbage
rather than wait for that quarter from the tooth fairy.
"In the morning," she said to
it, "I will do something final about this, and settle down to being only
me, and nobody else from any other year. Yes, that's what I'll do."
Interestingly enough, Mrs. Bentley's talking to her dead
husband by speaking to an object she's kept around to remind her of him—his
cane. How might losing the objects she associates with him affect her ability
to remember him clearly?
"A Time Machine!" panted
Charlie Woodman, pacing him. "Mother's, scout's, Injun's honor!"
"Travels in the past and
future?" John Huff asked, easily circling them.
"Only in the past, but you
can't have everything. Here we are." (17.2-4)
This is how you made promises to your friends in the days
when it wasn't politically incorrect to play cowboys and Indians.
The only way to keep things slow
was to watch everything and do nothing! You could stretch a day to three days,
sure, just by watching! (21.65)
Anyone who's ever waited for birthdays or holidays can
relate to this one. It's the same sentiment as the old saying <em>a watched pot never boils</em>,
and is an interesting launching pad for thinking about the fluidity and
subjective nature of time.
Over the years, they had destroyed
all of him, removing hands, arms, and legs and leaving him with substitutes as delicate
and useless as chess pieces. And now they were tampering with something more
intangible—the memory; they were trying to cut the wires which led back to
another year. (25.45)
Was Colonel Freeleigh just a torso? This passage might be
the second-creepiest thing in the book after Elizabeth Ramsell's murder.
Somewhere, a book said once, all
the talk ever talked, all the songs ever sung, still lived, had vibrated way
out in space and if you could travel to Far Centauri you could hear George
Washington talking in his sleep or Caesar surprised at the knife in his back.
If you think this is cool, do a web search for NASA's audio recordings from the rings
of Saturn. You'll sleep with the lights on. (Yeah, we're all about the creepy
"If you do this just right,"
he murmured, "you can adjust, make allowances…" To himself he was
thinking, You can erase lines, adjust the time factor, turn back the years.
In squinting his eyes at Helen Loomis's face, Bill
Forrester imagines he can see her as a young person. It's like the low-budget,
1928 version of those scary age-progressed photos floating around the Internet—which
is one way a machine, in this case a computer, can use memory to create a
person of the future.