Saturday, December 17, 2016

"You will discover the truth in time."

I've had some unusually provocative fortunes in my fortune cookies lately, and this was the latest of them. Perhaps it doesn't seem so on the surface. But pity the poor English language learner with this one, eh? Talk about your multiple meanings. Although I think I normally would only have gravitated to two meanings, I now think there are at least four.

Here are the two more obvious ones:

"You will discover the truth in time." You will find out the truth before it's too late.

"You will discover the truth in time." You will find out the truth eventually.

But, perhaps, influenced by a recent viewing of the new movie Arrival, I also see a couple more slippery ones.

"You will discover the truth in time." The truth you are seeking is to be found in this strange thing (or non-thing) which we call time. Or, time itself holds the key.

"You will discover the truth in time." You will find out what is true about time itself. Or, you will discover what is true within our conception of time as opposed to what is untrue.

The concept of time seems to have been coming up for exploration a lot lately, and I don't think it's just me. In addition to the time aspect of Arrival, which I won't discuss further here for fear of spoilers, there is also a popular new television series called Timeless and a bestselling new book from James Gleick called Time Travel, which I'm quite eager to read.

And for me personally, it seems to be cropping up everywhere. Part of this makes me think that we may be more adept at time travel than we know. Here's an example from the beginning of Lene Kaaberol and Agnete Friis's book Invisible Murder (sorry, the beginning is as far as I've gotten so far.)

Tamas's mind was working at a fever pitch. It was as if he could suddenly see the future so clearly that everything that he would need to do fell neatly into place, almost as if he had already done it and was remembering it, rather than planning it. First we'll have to do this. And then this. And then if I ask...

And this is from a book I happened to read recently, David Morrell's Scavanger, which I picked up after seeing him as the guest of honor at the recent Bouchercon in New Orleans. This thriller turns out to have a lot to say about time capsules, and the peculiar human impulse to memorialize our particular historical moment for the future, and how hard that turns out to be. But in the midst of this, Morrell, who is a scholar as well as a thriller writer, throws in a quote from Kierkegaard, which resonated with me as describing the condition of many of us in the days and weeks after the recent presidential election, and perhaps was similar to a state that many felt after Brexit as well.

The most painful state of being is remembering the future, in particular one you can never have.

Here's hoping we all discover the truth in time in one of it's better meanings--sooner than later, but better late than never.


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