I still wake up in the middle of the night. This time, it was a good thing, because drunken students were carousing just outside the window, singing "Midnight Special," and a number of Carter Family tunes which I dearly love. With an accordion. I read a few more chapters of Iain M. Banks' "Matter" and am not sure if I like it a lot or only enough to while away the wee hours of the morning. He is good at plot and invention but not so good at human psychology. Sort of like Asimov.
I peeled myself out of bed at the last moment and went off with Camilla to a remarkably boring lecture on how "Frankenstein" has been interpreted in plays and film. The professor read rather desperately from his notes and said a few things that I positively disagreed with. For example, he dismissed as fanciful the idea that Shelley deliberately left some aspects of her novel open to interpretation (that's why the various theater and film interpretations are so different).
Scott McCloud, in his discussion of the graphic novel, points out that characters like Tintin and Charlie Brown, who are represented with almost no distinguishing features, become Everyman. You can project yourself into their character in a way that you can't with a clearly defined character such as The Hulk or Wonder Woman. Shelley may not have known this explicitly, but the power of her novel surely is partly due to her use of the technique.
Luckily, our time was not entirely wasted. I worked on understanding how to make Celtic knots, the girl in front of me played Solitaire, and, according to Camilla, other students were shopping online.
I had a caloric but delicious pasta al forgo at an Italian cafe, a nap, and then went to the harbor to sit in the wind and meet Camilla. We strolled through a park, collected pussy willows, and climbed through Medieval alleyways to get back to the University part of town.
We shopped for dinner for Sara, my host. There is a teeny cheese shop, smelling like dairy and old socks and nuts and time. We got something gooey, something hard, and something silky. At a greengrocer's that smelled like rotten apples, we got apples and pears, and at a bakery, got seed bread and two teeny chocolate balls filled with whiskey truffle that cost as much as the bread. Then we went to Sara's and sliced and spread and had a very pleasant meal.
We talked about time from an anthropological point of view. Our Japanese friends say it is cyclical. Scientists say it is a one-way arrow. Some indigenous tribes see it as the eternal present. Our conclusion? That it depends on the scale you're talking about. We are in the third generation of stars, and are made of stardust that could not have existed 10 billion years ago. So, on the cosmic scale, time moves inexorably in one direction. On a human scale, it depends. In a pre-industrial culture, you could experience it as cyclical. If you had 20 pregnancies in your lifespan, and if your oldest children were beginning to have babies by the time you had your last few, and if you planted the same crops every year in the same season, you might indeed see it as a grand cycle, endlessly repeating. If you were more technological and prosperous, and had only one or two children, and your education and career followed a trajectory that changed according to your age, you might see time as I do, as a directional thing. In a rural economy, goats gestate for five months and chickens for one month, and cows are milked twice daily. In an urban environment, you cross the street at the green light and go to work at 8:30 and have lunch at 12. The perception of time is different; one is naturally driven, the other is arbitrary but useful.
After washing dishes, I settled down to take this Celtic knot study of mine to another level.