The Pendulum

Examine this clock: lovingly crafted by an expert clock-maker. A finely tuned system of cogs and weights, ornate hands and numbers and polished glossy wood and shining glass.

The pendulum rocks back and forth, assuming a perfect harmony, marking time with each swing. The clock goes tick; the clock goes tock; imagine the clock. Imagine the clock.

The hands tell time, but not only time–for each number corresponds with not only a moment, but a feeling. Time to wake up; morning time; time to go to work; time to water the garden; time to sleep; midnight.

Every number tells a story as every hour passes. Tick tock. Tick tock.

Imagine the clock.

When did that hour pass so quickly? When did 1 become 2 become 3? What is 3 o’clock? What is 4 o’clock? A 5 o’clock shadow falls upon the clock’s face.

And the pendulum, swinging behind a polished window of glass, back and forth in hypnotic motion, rising and falling like Sisyphus, like Atlas, it bears the world upon itself, all time is contingent on its motion.

From left to right it swings, from right to left. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

Imagine the clock. Imagine the clock.

Is the pendulum swinging faster? Or is it your imagination? Like a clock in a waiting room, the hands move through treacle. Or like fun, devouring time in its elation, what happened to the day? What happened to the year?

Fast and slow. Left and right. Tick and tock. Imagine the clock.

Time moves faster now, and faster. The pendulum begins to hit the edges of the wood-lined box. Like a blade it scratches the wood, then it plummets, then it rises. The clock is beginning to shake. Tick-clunk-tock-clunk.

Faster and faster the pendulum swings, almost violent in its urges; which of course is a foolish thing to say for a machine has no urge except that with which we have engineered it to have.

The clock is broken and the wood begins to splinter. The glass window before the pendulum cracks but does not shatter. Behind it, the pendulum swings wildly: left-right, left-right, left-right. The wood is splintering and the clock is beginning to shake.

With a pop the numbers begin to fall off. The minute hand moves backwards. Numbers collect at the bottom of the clock face in a jumble: 3 and 5 and 10. Now 6 and 11. Now 12.

One final violent thud embeds the pendulum in the wood and the clock falls silent. No tick: no tock. Imagine the broken clock. Mysterious hands come to remove it from the wall. There is a clock-shaped mark on the wallpaper where it used to hang.

The clock no longer serves its purpose and so it is useless. But something about its nature makes it impossible to throw away. So, instead, cracked glass and fallen numbers, it is packed away into a box, placed in the attic.

There: shrouded by darkness, spiders weave their cobwebs around it.

Tick tock.