(Roughly) Daily

“Only when the clock stops does time come to life”*…

 

Swiss Reformation scholar Max Engammare claims that the Calvinists fundamentally changed how we think about time. They replaced the Medieval Catholic conception of time, which was cyclical and based on recurring seasons and holidays, with a linear view of time, as something which was always essentially running out – and this, apparently, led to the requirement that we start arriving to things on time, which he claims did not exist previously…

“As Calvin constantly reminded his followers, God watches his faithful every minute. Come Judgment Day, the faithful in turn will have to account for each minute,” reads this summary. And John Balserak put it this way: “European Calvinists — who dispensed with the liturgical calendar and still today do not celebrate Christmas and Easter as religious holidays…introduced during the 16th and 17th centuries a view of time that was linear and finite. With this came an appreciation of time as precious [emphasis mine]. People learned to be on time for appointments, which had previously not been a concern.”

So then, if we cannot blame Calvinists for the rise of capitalism specifically, we may attempt to blame them for a much larger malady: That religious philosophy is responsible for that feeling that we are constantly losing time, as we hurtle ever-closer to death…

As we all mark the passage of 2017 and the advent of 2018, we might contemplate Vincent Bevin‘s amusing– and insightful– reminder of the origin of the self-improving impulse that one typically feels around now: “Productivity is dangerous.”

Happy New Year!

* William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

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As we rethink our resolutions, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908, at one second after midnight, that the Times Square Ball first descended.

In 1903, The New York Times newspaper was about to open their new headquarters, the city’s second tallest building, in what was then known as Longacre Square. The paper’s owner, Adolph Ochs, decided to commemorate their opening with a midnight fireworks show on the roof of the building on December 31, 1903. After four years of New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrations, Ochs wanted a bigger spectacle at the building to draw more attention to the newly-renamed Times Square. An electrician was hired to construct a lighted Ball to be lowered from the flagpole on the roof of One Times Square. The iron Ball was only 5 feet in diameter! The very first drop [celebrated] New Year’s Eve 1907, one second after midnight [so, on this date]. Though the Times would later move its headquarters, the New Year’s Eve celebration at One Times Square remains a focal celebration for the world.

For the evolution of the ball-drop over the years, see here.

The 1908 ball

source

 

Written by LW

January 1, 2018 at 1:01 am

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