Stilling the Kinematoscope

Keeping notes about events in nature over a number of years has shown me what I already knew: if something happens once, it will usually happen again. When I see a particular insect or flower for the first time in the year, I check my daybook to find when I saw it in other years. Sometimes things are early, sometimes late, but they are almost always in the right sequence, the variations dependent on the quality of the season.

Often, however, I assume too much and go too far. When I see the same things happening every May, I develop expectations, and when those expectations are fulfilled, I take the expectations a little further, and then a little further still. I pretend to find rules and systems.

Finally, I start imagining that not only is each day’s journal a record of its own events, but a history of what has always occurred and what will occur again and again. I no longer wait for repetition in order to formulate patterns or predictions. One day’s narrative becomes enough to defuse the need for replication.

Instead of the effect sought so diligently in the 19th century by the creator of the kinematoscope, in which still pictures were rotated or manipulated to create the illusion of motion, I find a reverse effect in multiple images and in repetition, an inverse kinematoscope that stills the disruption of passage.
Once I reach that point, everything makes sense. I settle in to the solid landscape of here and now. One event reaches back and forth through multiple seasons, is knit tightly with parallel events that are separated only by time, time that, in spite of appearance, and no matter how fast it seems to fly, makes the present only more fixed and indelible. Nothing is separate. One event is all there is.

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  1. Pingback: Talking the Walk - Poor Will's Almanack by Bill Felker

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