Sundial Worshipers

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It may well be that ancient tribes of humans actually worshiped the sun.  Anyone who has camped in a very cold climate, and found herself eagerly anticipating the warmth of the dawn, can easily imagine how this would be so.  Yet, we modern, civilized folks, with our artificial heat sources, are above all that, aren’t we?

For those who pay attention to films from the late 1960s, you may recall Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey begins with a section title-carded “The Dawn of Man,” during which two groups of proto-humans fight over possession of a watering hole.  Later, in the year 2001 A.D., we witness the Americans attempting to freeze out the Russians from discovery of an alien monolith under the surface of the moon.  This is the director’s subtle, impressionistic way of telling us that, after millions of years of slow-moving evolution, it’s STILL the dawn of man: our technology may have vastly improved, but we haven’t gone too far forward, spiritually.  We’re still fighting over the watering hole.

Interestingly in this connection, have a look around at what people in our culture today are worshiping, not just on Saturday or Sunday–but what are they paying most homage to, every day?  One thing that immediately strikes me is TIME.  As Wordsworth said, “Late and soon/Getting and spending.”  How rigidly we conform to the dictates of the clock, working 40, 50, 60+ hours per week, taking 2-3 weeks vacation per year, waiting until that magical age when we can slow down, and the days remaining are relatively few.  Strange how the things with the least materiality–they can’t be seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted–are granted the most “reality:” money would be another pretty good example (the “cold, hard cash” of yesterday is today’s electronic direct deposit.)  Another of the memorable moments from 1960s cinema is Wyatt, in Easy Rider, throwing away his watch.  Inspired by that act, I had both my main characters constrained by the artificially constructed limits of time, and tracked their reactions to it.

Most of us worship, no longer the sun, but at the altar of the sundial.  How far we’ve come.Image

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