Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Passing of time

Watching television can best be - kindly - described as passing time. Slightly more elevated is the excuse that it's a recovery mechanism from the rigors of the day. (Public television, they say, needs no excuse.) Philip Larkin, librarian and poet who famously declined to be England's Poet Laureate, implied such therapy in an answer to a question about his day (part of an interview -actually, written answers to written questions that took him five months to complete - published in the Paris Review):

"My life is as simple as I can make it. Work all day, cook, eat, wash up, telephone, hack writing, drink, television in the evenings. I almost never go out. I suppose everyone tries to ignore the passing of time: some people by doing a lot, being in California one year and Japan the next; or there's my way - making every day and every year exactly the same. Probably neither works."

I'm guessing that time was Larkin's friend. For the folks who rush about, time must be an enemy to be defeated or overcome or ignored until, well, until it kindly stops for them. Those of us of the rural persuasion empathize with Larkin. He had his routines, as do we, our circadian rhythms, our tides, our mornings of cerebration and afternoons of perspiration, and if our evenings also include cop show re-runs on the idiot box, then we too must be poets.

Actually, I'm looking forward to the state of mind of the 90-year-old mother of a friend who, when asked if she watched television, said, "No, I'd rather sit in my big, comfortable chair and watch the memories in my head."

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