"Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, singula dum capti circumvectamur amore."
But meanwhile it flees: time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail. ~ Virgil
Time haunts us. The hours tick mercilessly away towards a finite end, even as the sound of passing seconds reassures us of the continuity of our universe, a mechanical heartbeat, continual and infinite.
But how well do we know Time? We think of time as immutable, yet we know it to be elastic. It bends and stretches, like Dali's drooping watch-faces and Einstein's speeding trains, as certain moments pass with glacial slowness, while others speed by. We think of time as intangible, yet we know it only through physical objects: swinging pendulums, unwinding cogs, or orbiting celestial bodies. We think of time as infinite, yet physicists have calculated its beginnings, as ancient calendar-makers envisioned its end.
For the 40th Annual Village Halloween Parade, we explored the two faces of Time (as described by Mircea Eliade): tempus, the measured linear march from birth to death; and templum, the cyclical affirmation of rhythm, ritual, and rebirth. For our journey through Time, the White Rabbit (of Wonderland renown) is our guide. We meet him en route, pocket-watch at the ready, and very late -- like us, he is rushed along by the passing instants, harried by a flock of flying alarm clocks (time flies, indeed!) and enmeshed in a costumed churning clockwork of gears and timekeepers. This is worldly, historical time: linear, inexorable, mortal.
But then something happens. The clock strikes 12. Alarm bells ring, and all motion ceases. Then, a carousel of clock faces blooms out of nothing, forming a circular stage. A flickering light appears and we see a stage of moving shadows, a giant zoetrope on which we meet rabbit again, now liberated from his mechanized regime and playfully leaping over the tortoise in an endless circle game. This is cyclical time, seasonal time, dream time, repeating and reaffirming, deathless and eternal. Meanwhile, outside the carousel, time for the clockwork figures has slowed to a stop-motion tableau. For a moment – which might be an eternity – we enter a time out of time, in which a lifetime might be lived in the interval between two ticks of the clock.