Friday, March 30, 2007

Traveling through time and space.

The large mountain sometimes seen from Seattle is called Mount Rainier (pronounced 'raneer'). If you can't see the mountain it's raining; if you can see it, don't worry, it will be rainier later. (Boom, boom!)

We had a wet and overcast trip to America but it was dry almost half the time we were there and when the sun came out it was very pleasant.

My son is living in an area near Green Lake called Tangletown, where the houses are made of wood and the gardens are impressive. The trees are festooned with blossom and everything is green and heavily scented. The people are friendly, the schools are good, the atmosphere welcoming. We did the Underground Tour and learned that the founders of Seattle were mostly crooks who were not over-concerned about sewage. I had always thought that Flushing Meadows was something to do with tennis, but it seems an apt description of what happened when the tide came in at Puget Sound. (Flushing Meadows was featured in the Hitchcock movie 'Strangers on a Train' the lead actor in which, Farley Granger, came out yesterday as heterosexual after giving the impression for many years that he was gay.)

We went up the Space Needle on a fairly clear day and saw the mountains and we visited the Science Fiction Museaum (of which more later).

My talk to patients went well, I think, though because of computer difficulties many of my carefully prepared slides had to be abandoned and I had to ad-lib a bit. This is only the third time I have spoken just to patients and I still have to perfect how the talk should be given. I probably need to cut down on the data and address the sort of problems that people actually have.

One thing that travel affords is time to read. I managed to finish "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger. If you don't know about this novel you can Google it. It became famous for 15 minutes when Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston bought the screen rights, though it now seems that neither wil appear in the movie which is apparently in production.

Time travel is used as a device to explore relationships, and why not? I am a science fiction fan and I had to defend this at a university entrance interview. I said it exposed people to extreme circumstances. Nothing more extreme than meeting your middle aged future husband when you are six or getting pregnant by a younger version of your husband after he had had a vasectomy deliberately to avoid the risk of further miscarriages.

The problem of time travel is changing the future. The famous Ray Bradbury story "Sound of Thunder" (which is featured in the Seattle Science Fiction Museum) has a dinosaur hunter treading on a butterfly and as a consequence America is changed from a democracy to a totalitarian state. Some would say that destroying the World Trade Center is having the same effect. Niffenegger avoids this conundrum, but it was a problem for the hero of the movie that I watched on the plane coming back. 'Deja Vu' was a litle piece of nonsense, but quite fun.

In a sense all travel is time travel. It is said that travel to New Zealand is like going back to 1957 - for me a very good year. In a way travel to Seattle was like going back to 1968; in Seattle at least the equation Iraq = Viet Nam seems self-evident. There are some obvious similarities, but to my mind tremendous differences. It is a false analogy, but it does emphasize how complex are different societies and how unexpected are the consequences of interfering in what you don't understand. A bit like time travel really.


justme said...

I've picked up "The Time Traveler's Wife" several times at bookstores...but have always put it back down. Not sure why...perhaps the brief synopsis on the book flap never grabbed me...although I am a big time-travel fan. After reading your post, I'm thinking I'll have to give it another try.

Anonymous said...

Time travel is a fiction (except I suppose some wag could say we are all always traveling into the future simply as a consequence of living). I abhor time-travel stories as being a waste of time.

Give me plausibility over sheer fantasy every time.

justme said...

Finally watched 'Deja Vu' this past weekend. We both enjoyed it. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Of course time travel is fiction. But it is fun to indulge in a bit of fiction (especially time travel fiction) from time to time because it stretches the imagination and is a great way to relax and temporarily escape the often 'too plausible' realities of this life.

I suppose this is a bit silly...but I've often wondered if there might be some kind of time travel in heaven...not sure how it could work though, because there is no time in heaven (so are we going to be able to see everything - past, present and future - all at once?), and would we want to go back and see fallen man/earth anyway? But perhaps God will allow it as a reminder to us of His awesome grace in rescuing us from where we've been. If not time travel, my next speculation is, will there be thought travel?

justme said...

"The Time Traveler's Wife." Finally read it. Liked it. Thanks.

Favorite quote (Ben to Henry): "Yeah, yeah. Why not just live with it? The cure might be worse than the problem."

Manu Manickvel said...

Traveling through time AND those who cannot conceive the wonder of this - you should try to know why we sci-fi folks (and the scientists) love these concepts, impracticable though they maybe...for now.