Monday, May 16, 2011

Nutella and Time Travel

So last night I stayed up to watch The Butterfly Effect. Um yes, the movie with Ashton Kucher. It's about this kid that has black out periods growing up , where he can't remember what happened. He keeps a journal growing up. When he gets older he finds that when he looks back at the journal, he can magically transport himself back to those moments when he was a kid and see what really happened for himself, and then change something about it. He then gets transported back to the place in time he was previously in, but then everything had changed. The same person that could be a crack whore in one reality then becomes a frat girl in another, etc.

After I watch movies I'm always super interested in reading the bonus features. I don't really care about the special effects ones (though I do watch them) but really what I want is the stuff where they talk to the writers and the directors. They talked to people who were into chaos and string theory, psychologists who write about time travel, scholars who study time travel in literature, etc. And of course they talked about the TARDIS, they talked about Bill and Ted in their own little tiny TARDIS (trending now: Bill & Ted's 3?!!! I can't fucking wait.), variations of movie versions of The Time Machine (one was directed by Wells' grandson I think!), etc. They talked to the directors of the movie, 2 guys, and everybody on set agreed that the two guys were totally in sync with each other, although one of them was the liaison between the actors and the crew, where as the other director was the one who dealt with technical things. And no, it wasn't the Warchoski brothers (or however they spell their name -- the guys who did The Matrix movies). Anyway, after I watched all that, I was in a time travel-y science-fiction mode and decided that as long as I had the computer on my lap (um, I was watching the disc on our TV but then the TV pretty much shorted out and I had to watch the rest of it on my computer). So I followed the recommendations that popped up and that led me to Sliders, that cheesy TV show from when I was in college, with John Rhys-Davies as a professor accompanying a physics grad student and his friends on trips through wormholes that lead them to different dimensions, yet all these realities are all on earth. At least, for the first episodes I watched. I watched a few episodes and the next thing I knew it was three in the morning.

Sidenote: Oh shit. I am drinking an amazing latte right now, a Nutello. For reals: Milk, espresso, Nutella. Oh shit. It's at Cafe Neo in Lincoln Square, Chicago. Fuck this is sooooooooo good. I also noticed that they can also make you a crepe with Nutella and bananas. When I was in France in high school, my host sister was the only person in the country who didn't like Nutella. A tragedy!

When I realized how late it was I started thinking about how I read somewhere or heard an interview with a writer once, where someone said something like, "We live in a time machine. Time itself passing is a time machine. That's kind of amazing. We should consider even that as amazing." And then I remember someone else (or perhaps the same person in the same interview?) said something like "If I could find one thing out ever, what I really want to know is, What is time? Not just how we define it, but what actually is it?" This is a good question. Because without knowing it, I think I have thought that question many times. What is time composed of? And is it just what some people say, that really, it's a human-imposed categorization imposed on reality? But then, if gravity is the curvature of time and space, then time really is something, something that's part of an equation? After all, time is used in all sorts of equations in things like speed and velocity. Or is it that time is something else entirely, but that we call it time, but really it's something else that we're not able to comprehend? Maybe time is something that if we were to learn more about it, it would be beyond our initial ability to comprehend until we figured it out.

Which brings me to another point, which is this: so we saw the Thor movie last weekend, and Natalie Portman's character pulled out the "Magic is just unexplained science" quote. Who actually said that initially? Was it Arthur C. Clark as Natalie Portman's character claims in the movie? I thought it was PK Dick. Is that what And I'm also pretty sure that Skully said something like that on the X-Files once. So just out of curiosity, I Google-researched to see if I could get a line on where that quote actually came from. I got 644 results in .22 seconds. Here's just a snippet, none of which answers my question of the origin of this quote, but shows merely that the trope of magic being unexplained science is a common assessment:

So in my head both the TV show and the movie kind of fused. I love it when that happens. I once had a poetry instructor in college who turned me onto enjoying when that happens. That is, to enjoy when multiple things you're reading fuse to make a bigger narrative. Or at least, overlap in some meaningful way. It never even occurred to me to think that, but now I realize that that's how good teachers might come up with syllabuses. You read something and think of how it overlaps with something else, and from those things you might build a curriculum. If I were teaching a literature class, I might help my students write about what they're reading if I said something like, "So the text you read, what does it make you think of? What mythology or TV show or movie or piece of history does it remind you of? Why does it make you think of that?" There's lessons to be learned, thesis statements to be made. Or at least tweets to be Tweeted.

Fuck! I finished this Nutello latte. Would I be a pig if I got another one? This is especially distressing because I just came from someone's house who fed me and we had delicious banana pudding for dessert. Also, I only have about 45 minutes left on the parking meter. I feel like there's a poetry in thinking about time left on the meter while I'm writing about time travel.

But so back to The Butterfly Effect. Yes it was cheesy, in case you're wondering (and if you haven't seen it, or if you want to know what I thought about it's overall quality of entertainment value. I was riveted but I still thought it was cheesy. In fact, I started watching it earlier in the day and had to turn it off to go out, and I was interested in getting back to watch it. Anyway, I wasn't really thinking of it as time travel really, because we think of time travel as being something that you need a machine for it. But he didn't really have a machine. And in fact, I didn't consider it to be time travel until I was watching the bonus features and they were talking about time travel. What is interesting about Sliders was that they made it clear early on that they weren't so much moving in time but in dimensions. The way it was set up on the show, time runs in the same way no matter what dimension you go into. So as far as I can tell, that eliminates the problem I get caught up in thinking about when reading/watching time-travel genre stuff, which is that if you're traveling in time, and you're gone for a long time, you go back to where you left and you're suddenly very old because you've been traveling for years and years. In the Sliders universe (uni-multiverse) you leave one dimension but time carries on there. (This is sort of addressed in The Time Traveler's Wife, I guess. And maybe I could think of other things too, if I thought about it.)

Also, something else I've been thinking about lately is that Stephen Hawking quote (or something) where he was debunking time travel and said something like, "We would have been visited by now if there was time travel." But! Maybe we figure out time travel and can only go forward?

Maybe I should go out and put on a fake mustache and come back into the cafe and order another Nutello. Do you think they'd notice?

1 comment:

  1. The first time I tried Nutella, I was in Italy! I was feeling a little homesick and a good friend brought me a jar of Nutella and some fresh strawberries. I couldn’t accept how best it was! I was abashed if I apparent I had eaten the whole jar all on my own. Embarrassing, but it did make me feel better.

    travel recommendations