Time Travel as a life’s work…

267119821618794962_Bw4y30OM_c“My grandfather’s clock was too tall for the shelf so it stood ninety years on the floor. …and it stopped, short, never to go again when the old man died.”

I loved this tune. It runs around in the soundtrack of my history somewhere around the age of eight or nine. Strangely, at the exact time I saw “The Time Machine” for the first time. Thank you, Mr Wells. … Rod Taylor and his room full of clocks. These two moments in history melded together in my mind and began my fascination with time and time travel.

These ideas prompted my departure from the children’s books I had been reading, and led me into Asimov in particular. My father gave me “I, Robot” to start with when I was about eight and I found it fascinating. Then I went to Stanton Library in North Sydney and signed up just so I could get my hands on the big people’s books. I remember Dad had to sign a release to let me borrow adult books.

And my life long love of science fiction was born.

I have always been a sucker for a time travel story. There is something persuasive about the peculiarities — what if you met yourself? What if you killed your grandfather? What if you killed Hitler? The “what then?” School of writing and reading and thinking. The complexities could really screw with my head!

My other favourite science fiction theme is, of course, “universes within universes” … also a head-screwer! I wonder how many hours I have spend arguing the subtleties of this with myself as well as like minds.

But back to the Time Machine. I always remember the scene at the end of the movie when Mr Ed’s dad (yes, he’ll always be Wilburt Post to me) studies the clocks one last time and then pieces together what had happened to our lucky or luckless, depending on how you looked at it, traveler. He sees where the machine was pulled back to the outside of the door. He discovers that books are missing – three as I recall. And that wonderful moment when he looks directly at the camera whilst asking the maid in his appalling Scottish brogue:

“Only… which three would you take?”

Ahh! Such a moment. Which three books would I take to rebuild the world?? Yes indeed.

This brings me to my only other obsession in reading — the “end of the world” scenarios. What if a plague came (man made almost certainly)? What if we finally blew ourselves up? What if the world finally got us back for what we’ve done to her? What if an asteroid hit? What if they landed? All very thought provoking.

Mankind without all it’s supposedly civilised trappings. Man against nature – bacteria – other men – himself — all my favourite themes.

I have always been tickled by the idea of mankind having to leave behind the bullshit we use daily to protect ourselves. By my belief that man – the ‘generic’ man that is, men and woman, the belief that most of what happens each day is bullshit. What really matters to everyone, I believe, is food and sex. Surviving and procreating. That’s it.

I would love to believe that if it came down to it I would risk my life for someone who was in trouble and needing help. I want this to be true. But I sometimes wonder. If it came down to a “you and me against the world” scenario, would I go out of my way, still, to help people who were not part of my circle of loved ones.

I think that I have the inner strength to shut the doors on the people screaming for help outside if it were the only way to keep my loved ones safe. I think it would be my duty to do that.

There have been moments in my life when I have seen the other side of mankind. Far too many of them for my liking, to tell the truth. But the fact remains that I have watched someone I love trying to beat another person to death. I have seen the same person helping me pull parents and a trapped baby from a burning car.

What does this dichotomy mean?

That we wish to do well, but sometimes fall short?

Or, that we are basically out for ourselves but occasionally find ourselves helping others against our better judgment?

Are we all schizophrenics – split personalities?

Are we, as a race, inherently, both good and evil. Are we each simply as people not so much the sum of our atoms, genes or DNA, but more simply just an unknown and untried reaction waiting for a stimuli.

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