Post of the Week

Post of the Week

Published January 7, 2000 7:55PM (EST)

The Concept of Time in Literature (and movies)

brendan_nelson - 10:52pm Dec 31, 1999 PST (# 22 of 188)

Groundhog Day is quite interesting in that, while it plays with
time as its central theme, time actually seems to be coercing the
weatherman into paying more attention to space, namely the small
town around him.

For the weatherman, we presume that usually time will rescue him
from these "small hick towns"; he will be able to arrive, do his
job, and leave. Time prevents space from getting to him. Yet on
Groundhog Day, time goes into a loop, hence (more or less) freezing
his movements through space.

With time having trapped the weatherman, all he has for his
entertainment is the space around him. I love the film for the way
it freezes the small town in time, and gives the weatherman an
eternity to learn the intricate details of life there; to learn
about each individual in the town, to understand the connections
between the events of the day (saving the life of the old tramp),
to eventually develop a real compassion for the events in this
small and insignificant space through which time would normally
have swept him without him even noticing his surroundings. Frozen
in time, the weatherman can appreciate the vast amount of life and
complexity of character that there is in even such a small and
seemingly insignificant space.

Time, in Groundhog Day, is instrumental in teaching the weatherman
about existing fully within his immediate environment on any given
day. The lesson is taught by the manipulation of time; but its
subject is the appreciation of space. Anyone agree/disagree?

A Year 2000 Apocalypse? Overblown.

Social Issues
Tegularius - 08:18pm Jan 2, 2000 PST (# 171 of 209)

That is the choice: there is no year 0. Zero was or would be
discovered by the Mayans way over in the yet-undiscovered New
World. "Year 0" is anachronistic.

Whenever the AD (or CE) era began, it began with the year 1. So if
the first century was a true century, it would last through the
year 100, up to the year 101. And so on.

This is all retrospective, of course. I don't actually know when
the "AD" numbering was first imposed or thought of; and even when
that has been determined, we rather have to take it on faith that
someone counted all the days correctly and that a power-that-be
believed that someone.

In computer programming, I have had to dip my toe into the issues
surrounding the calculation of dates since the middle ages or
before, and, believe me, it's no simple matter. Long papers have
been written about it. Did you know that for a long time, the New
Year was counted from Mar. 25 rather than Jan. 1? Or that the
entire discipline of mathematics was, after a manner of speaking, kept
alive for generations during the dark ages mainly so that
people could determine the date of Easter?

Confidence in any assertion that a specific ancient event occurred
on a particular date exactly so-many days prior to today is, I
daresay, an act of faith. And as a faith, Christianity for one is
remarkably reticent in undergirding a calendrical watershed
supposedly deriving from it.

But, speaking a priori, there is no year 0. Hence the year 2000
does not begin a new century/millenium, but ends an old one.

20 ways the '90s changed television

MaryEllen - 12:43pm Dec 27, 1999 PST (# 22 of 65)

I work in TV, and my most vicious pet peeve is people
who criticize TV but in the same breath brag that they don't watch
it! What kind of lame hypocrisy is that? In any other area, such an
attitude wouldn't be tolerated, as you rightly point out, but it
seems to be an acceptable approach when it comes to TV. Drives me
crazy. And I get so tired of having to defend my career all the
time, too. If someone at a party says that they are, say, a car dealer,
it's unlikely that someone will come up to them and say
belligerently, "So, how come cars are such crap, huh? Can't you
sell anything that isn't garbage, huh?" And yet, I have taken to
telling people that I am a pet groomer, in order to avoid the
inevitable "TV, huh? How come it sucks so bad, can't ya do anything
good, har har?"

Second or third the vote for MST3K, by the way. Although I think
the biggest change to TV in the 90's was not a show, but rather the
proliferation of cable networks and the internet, both of which
divided the TV viewing audience enough that networks had to think
of new ways to get and keep an audience, which then led to the
niche marketing mentioned above.

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