Below you will find a picture of a clock in the Musée d’Orsay looking out over the Seine. Now, why is this picture different than the many large and looming clock faces in Impressionist art museums? First, because I also have pictures of me in front of it as a three-year-old art enthusiast, and also from two years ago. One could say that this clock and I have history. But I, like Augustus Waters of “The Fault in Our Stars” fame, “choose my behaviors based on their metaphorical resonances.” So here we go:
The clock is in constant motion, yet it never really changes. Come back twenty-four hours later, and you’ll see its hands in the exact same positions. Meanwhile, through the clock face, and indeed within the museum, everything changes. The people come and go, and the water in the Seine keeps flowing, etc. While we choose with clocks to show time as a circular idea, it does not in fact restart, as evidenced by the different pictures that I unfortunately did not bring in electronic format.
The idea of things withstanding the linear timeline is central to this trip. For millennia, the cave paintings we have seen were embracing the walls of the slowly changing cave. Sure, the paintings have been obscured by calcium and graffiti, but I would argue that the shape and emotion behind the paintings have been conserved. Even in the ruins we saw today, certain walls and major parts of buildings remained standing. Perhaps even more striking was the cave beneath the ruins, which was inhabited by both ancient humans and medieval people.
Anyway, that why I like this clock. As long as it’s not rusting, it could care less about what you had for lunch or whether you live or die for many reasons (not least of which because clocks are not sentient). I admit that this seems morbid, but there are things bigger than everyone, like clocks and time, and I somehow find that comforting.