A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
There’s a guy in Norway who wants to do away with time. We all know, strictly speaking, that’s impossible, so my guess is he actually wants to get rid of clocks. (The article was poorly written.) While this is an admirable sunshine-and-lollipops endeavour, it has its roots in a far stupider idea.
Ever since Lucy (Australopithecus) and her sisters decided to go for a walk in Ethiopia, 3 million years ago, there have always been people who want to abandon the march of civilization. Their contention is that humans are inherently pastoral, and we’re not meant to be regulated by the time-counting machines we’ve created. In other words, we’d be a lot happier if we just ate when we’re hungry, slept when we’re tired, had sex when we’re horny and enjoyed a few more sunsets. This idea gets a lot pf play on college campuses and during after-dinner conversations (with the second bottle of wine) but it ignores one essential fact – 3 million years of history. Oops!
There is actually no evidence to suggest humans were ever a come-day/go-day, God’ll bring Sunday type of species. The only reason some sophomores jump to this conclusion is our closest biological cousins, chimpanzees, behave that way– and the assumption is, back in the evolutionary day, we did too. Wrong! The truth is, all – ALL – the archaeological evidence points to the undeniable fact that humans have always been workaholics. We didn’t become the dominant species on this planet by hunting, eating and then lying around digesting for the rest of the afternoon. (I’m looking at you, bonobos!) No, we used the bonus time between full and famished to work our asses off. Why? Because, unlike all the other animals Noah put on the boat, from aardvarks to zebras, we realized that the sun was going to come up again tomorrow. And our long evolutionary crawl from the savannahs of Africa to the Mars Rover is a litany of labouring for that future.
Everything human beings do, from building the Pyramids to buying more than one potato, is based on our unflappable faith in time. It’s one of the amazing imaginary concepts (like religion, ownership and fair play) that’s hardwired into our DNA. But more than that, time is also one of our essential tools, like language and mathematics. That’s why we’ve always tried to measure it so accurately. We use time to regulate, manipulate and evaluate our existence; without it, nothing we see around us would exist.
Personally, I believe the quaint notion that humans could live quite happily without clocks comes from the benevolent society we’ve created that allows us massive amounts of leisure time. We have time to think, and sometimes the things we think are wrong-headed. Seriously, suggesting that we should turn our backs on hours and minutes because our primeval ancestors didn’t have alarm clocks is as preposterous as saying we shouldn’t have elevators because humans are not supposed to live and work in the skies above Mother Earth.
Anyway, that’s just my opinion — but stay tuned cuz I’m already planning another one in 4 days, 96 hours or 3,960 minutes, depending on how you want to measure it.