Dam Time

Time flows, but we keep trying to cut it into pieces, like using a sword to chop a river. In the past week we have crossed several of these imaginary cuts (and weeks and days are themselves slices in the river of time, as if it were made of ice).

We have entered what you might call the “month of Aquarius”, since the Sun entered that one of the twelve zodiacal constellations on Feb. 16 and will leave it for Pisces on March 12. But by the astrological system we are already in the “month of Pisces”, since the Sun entered that 30-degree-wide sign on Feb. 18 and will leave it for Aries on March 20.

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On a wider time-scale, we are in the Age of Aquarius, which began when precession moved the March equinox point backward from Pisces into Aquarius – or are we? By the system of 30-degree-wide signs, that happened somewhere around 1400. (Or later, depending on how you calculate it; which depends, I think, on when you consider the equinox point, still traditionally called the “First Point of Aries,” to have been at the western end of Aries and where you consider that to have been. Many think of the Aquarian Age as beginning around 1960.) But, as the constellations are defined astronomically, the equinox point won’t move into Aquarius till the year 2597.

We are in Lent, the period from Ash Wednesday (Feb. 18) to Palm Sunday (March 29) – forty days inclusive, that is, including the days at both ends. (Lent, often marked by abstinence from meat, could serve as a stepping-stage into your Age of Vegetarianism.) Palm Sunday will be the beginning of Holy Week which ends with Easter Sunday.

And we have just entered a nine-month segment of time which is Mars’s sojourn in our northern celestial hemisphere. On Feb. 21 it climbed through the celestial equator in Pisces, to make a long arch, in the middle of which it will be hidden behind the Sun, nd to drop through the equator back on Nov. 18 in Virgo, half way around the sky.

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I don’t mind chopping the river of time with swords, it amuses us and doesn’t bother time, which flows on; what I often do wish I could do is interrupt the river of time with a plank.

8 thoughts on “Dam Time”

  1. ‘Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
    Bears all its sons away.
    They fly forgotten, as a dream
    Dies at the opening day.’

    As an atheist, I find these lines from the magnificent hymn ‘O God, out help in ages past’ by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), very powerful. Last Friday that hymn was sung at a memorial service I attended, and I nearly choked on them. (If I had been a woman, a daughter of time, I might have choked for a different reason.) I am less keen on his ‘Divine and Moral Songs for Children’, with such exhortations as

    Let dogs delight to bark and bite,
    For God hath made them so;
    Let bears and lions growl and fight,
    For ’tis their nature too.

    But, children, you should never let
    Such angry passions rise;
    Your little hands were never made
    To tear each other’s eyes.

    Good advice, no doubt, but the last two lines might put ideas into impressionable young hecads. I much prefer the hymn!

    1. I, too, find many of the old hymn-tunes powerful: “For those in peril on the sea…” It’s almost become a tic that as these short days end, and I have not done much of that which I ought to have done, “The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended” comes into my head. And now, because of you, the tune I’m subconscioulsy breathing (there’s always one) is that tremendous “O God, our help in ages past”.

    2. I think in my reply to Geoffrey I somewhat missed his point. It wasn’t the tune of the hymn that caused his emotion but its words on time’s inexorable flow (though they are augmented by the solemn tune). When we lived up the valley from here on Church Street in the village of Uplyme, we used to go up the street to the village church for the Remembrance Day service, and my emotion came to the choking point when the words reached “…Age shall not wither them, nor the years condemn.”

      1. Rather like ‘Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale / Her infinite variety’ (Antony and Cleopatra)

        1. I got the Binyon poem slightly wrong, no doubt because of echo of the Shakespeare: it is “Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.”

    1. I had thought of quoting that, and may do so in another context, because I first heard it used by a professor as an example of the difference between natural languages and computer languages.

      In the present context, time flows, not flies. Indeed I think we are more like the arrows, since we move through time. And then there is the great single Arrow of time, which points the way along time and according to some theorists could point in either direction.

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