Now is the time when those of good faith, passion and an emergent global consciousness can set aside artificial zones of time that divide us, and begin working together in a single shared global now. Together, we can begin to turn the world in a new direction, a counter clock wisdom. a wise unwinding from our legacy industrial catastrophe. Now we can join forces, unify our efforts, and begin to tell a new story. Of how we caught ourselves in the nick of time, pulled back from the brink, rediscovered the heritage of our indigenous humanity and restored our connection to the living world.
Back before there were clocks, machines and empires, it was simple to look up into the sky and watch the sun and the moon and the stars wheel across the heavens. when they rose, when they reached zenith, when they set. the tides too rose and fell, the seasons cycled, and so not just because our lives depended on it, but because were actually of it, we were naturally entrained to these durations. not machine metronomes, but the pulse and pattern of life. though our connection to the living world we could not recognize ourselves as separate from, this time was intrinsic to our being. we woke. we slept. we laughed. we ate. we toiled. we sang. we made love. we had children. we moved in rhythm. not on time, but in it. now. always. forever.
The expanding industrialized technocratic Eurified western world made a break with the rhythms of the natural world, and began to marched to the beat of a different drummer. With their locomotives and telegraphs, their steamships and undersea cables, their factory production schedules and quarterly profit reports, those 18th, 19th and 20th century empire builders began coordinating their extractive and commercial activities at a larger and larger scales. As their sense and scope of ʻhereʻ grew incrementally, so too did their ʻnowʻ expand elastically to keep pace.
To rationalize, suppress, and control the infinite variety of 360 degrees of local time of day— the fact that on a spherical world , we all view different local horizons –they defined and Taylorized standard local time ʻzones,ʻ hour-wide segments of imposed industrial ʻnowʻ to make sure the trains ran on time, instead of crashing into each other. But as they wove their Victorian machine dreams around the world, an unexpected thing happened when they came to the ends of the earth: they split the date in two.
The International Date Line is an imaginary line in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but even if you are Umberto Ecco, you will be sorely disappointed if you ever go look for it, for it does not exist. It is a conceptual fiction ʻcreatedʻ from the illogical necessity of compartmentalized thinking. A bandaid on the broken idea that time comes in zones, that now can be stamped and clamped, divided into separate pieces. The IDL ʻenduresʻ only as a result of cultural inertia, a lack of imagination and failure of our thinking to evolve. The truth is there are no ʻzonesʻ of time. Time can not be limited or controlled by state or national boundary. There are not 24 versions of present on the planet. There are no separate dates in effect.
Today, in our globally networked world where millions increasingly have access to instantaneous global communication, legacy 19th century notions of 24 separate bands of ʻnowʻ and 2 simultaneous different dates seem utterly antiquated, incoherent and nonsensical. But old habits endure because change is difficult; it often seems easier to kick the can down the street, than fundamentally redesign your thinking to match a new understanding of the world. Yes our planet rotates roughly 365 times each orbit the of sun. Yes, our moon orbits roughly every 30 days, and yes this happens 12 or 13 times each year. But beyond these gravitational and kinetic realities, the manner in which time is further subdivided and socially regulated is quite arbitrary.
How we inherited the hodge-podge of 24 hours, 60 minutes and seconds is a long, complicated and fascinating tale. These frameworks weave their way through many cultures and epochs before arriving into the third EuroAmerican millennium. But there is nothing divine or inevitable about the 7 day week, neither springing forward nor falling back. February has 28 days assigned.
If you can imagine a ʻnowʻ big enough for the entire planet, or if you just want to collaborate smoothly with others around the world to blunt the destructive drive of Transnational Neoliberal Global Capitalism, then it is time to upgrade. The future is now everywhere.