October the first

When I was a child I came upon the speculative fiction novel “October the First is too late” by the great astrophysicist Fred Hoyle. It’s a strange and stimulating book, about time itself folding like a pretzel and possibly coming to an end, which wreaks havoc on reality — particularly human reality.

For some reason my memory of that book always reminds me of another treatment of time itself in popular fiction that felt as weird and wonderful: The character of Emit Flesti in Wim Wenders’ “Far Away So Close”, a character played so memorably by Willem Defoe.

Of course today is, in fact, October the first. On this day of the year, a part of my mind invariably flashes the thought that Hoyle got it wrong: Time itself has not in fact come to an end, since we have safely made it to October. Feel free to breathe a sigh of relief.

But maybe getting it wrong isn’t the worst of sins. When you think about Defoe’s character, you realize that Wim Wenders didn’t just get it wrong about time Itself. He got it backwards.

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