What do Terminator, Back to the Future, Watch Stoppers, and In Time all have to do with each other? They are all movies that involve time. Some travel on it like it were a ship or a highway while others control it like light. Books like The Time Traveler’s Wife, River of Time, and Fallen from Babel all do the same.
Today, we spend our lives watching the clock. At work and at school we watch the hands, willing them to move faster. Then when we get home, we will them to move slower. We have hours and minutes and time zones. All came about in the 19th century when travel and commerce were globalized. Standardized time was necessary to make the world turn round.
The importance of standardized time, and even in a standard calendar, can best be shown by the French Revolution. After the overthrow of their monarchy, new leaders determined to remove all remains of the previous government, including the religion, and thus time itself. Weeks became ten days instead of seven so that no one would know when Sunday was and there were ten hours in a day, each with 100 minutes so that no one could attend mass. Even the months were shifted so that no one would know when holy days, such as Christmas and Easter, were.
Obviously this caused some problems. The most difficult: Who wants to work an eight day work week? Journals from the time tell that even the farm animals would collapse by the sixth day and refuse to move. Another issue was with foreign relations. If one country uses one calendar and they buy and sell with countries using another, how do you know when goods are going to be delivered?
A product of standardized time was a standardized work day. Before, people went to work when the sun rose and left when it set. This meant that they worked a lot in the summer and only a little in the winter (Well, not compared to today). The closest thing to a clock that anyone had was the Church bells that tolled relatively on the hour, adding a ring each hour of the day (so noon had twelve rings).
And speaking of time…. It is Christmas eve and I am out of time to tell all this because my family is here now. I shall follow up next week.