professor zender's experiment - 4. life during wartime
by coraline o'connell
illustrated by konrad kraus and roy dismas
time is time.
it is what it is.
it is not considered an "element", like air or water, because humans can not grasp or manipulate it in any way.
it can not be stopped, slowed down, speeded up or reversed.
you raise your eyebrows, dear reader, at such trite observations.
but consider, that all of the philosophies and religions, the most successful and the most humble, all that have so exercised the passions and violent impulses of humans through the millennia,
those that have commanded armies of tens of millions and those that consisted of a lone prophet being jeered and pelted on a street corner, have as their common thread that they do indeed aspire to stop, slow, speed or reverse time.
the myriad movements and multitudinous prophets who filled the streets and squares of europe after "the great war" had their fair share of those who aspired to "reverse" time - to return to a golden age, usually one that the potential convert had living memory of. but by far the greater number appealed to the desire to speed up time, and bring the happy fruits of the perfected future to a swift, rather than a slowly gestated glory.
how many would would be messiahs, standing in the soup and bread lines in their tattered overcoats and castoff military uniforms,
seated on rain-slicked sidewalks or slouched across the bars and tables of unlit cafes, had to make a hard decision - the present or the past? how many knew the difference? how many made their choice based on what we may fairly call the "market" for one or the other? reader, it is no intention of ours to mock these poor fellows (and occasional fellowettes). who is to say that the positions taken in the highest chairs of philosophy and jurisprudence, may, in the parliaments and cabinets and privy councils of the world, are not dictated by similar considerations?
ah, you grow restless again. civilized as you are, the signs are unmistakable. stop. i beg you! - well, i don't beg you, but i politely request that you bear with me...