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One
of
the
foremost
tasks
of
art
has
always
been
the
creation
of
a
demand

which
could
be
fully
satisfied
only
later.

Walter
Benjamin,
"The
Work
of
Art
in
the

Age
of
Mechanical
Reproduction"


Accelerated
the
life
of
flowers
is
Shakespearean.

Blaise
Cendrars


I
continued
to
look
at
the
flowers,
and
in
their
living
light
I
seemed
to
detect

the
qualitative
equivalent
of
breathing—but
of
a
breathing
without
return
to

a
starting
point,
with
no
recurrent
ebbs
but
only
a
repeated
flow
from

beauty
to
heightened
beauty,
from
deeper
to
ever
deeper
meaning.

Alduous
Huxley,
The
Doors
of
Perception


True
imagination
actually
"sees"
the
"subtle"
processes
of
nature
and
their

angelic
prototypes.
It
is
the
capability
to
reproduce
in
oneself
the

cosmogenic
unfolding,
the
permanent
creation
of
the
world.
.
.
.

Maurice
Aniane



P h u sis,
P o ie sis,
a n d 
th e 
P re ‐H isto ry 
o f
T im e ‐L a p se 

Substance,
Nietzsche
argues
in
The
Gay
Science,
has
not
always
existed.
Once

mankind
lived
in
the
midst
of
a
substanceless
"absolute
flow
of
becoming":
"In
order

that
the
concept
of
substance
could
originate—which
is
indispensable
for
logic

although
in
the
strictest
sense
nothing
real
corresponds
to
it—it
was
necessary
that

for
a
long
time
we
did
not
see
nor
perceive
the
changes
in
things"
(171).
Perhaps,

Nietzsche
speculated,
we
are
not
momentous
enough
beings
to
perceive
change
in
its

purest
form:


We
are
not
subtle
enough
to
perceive
that
probably
absolute
flow
of

becoming;
the
permanent
exists
only
thanks
to
our
coarse
organs
which

reduce
and
lead
things
to
shared
premises
of
vulgarity,
whereas
nothing

exists
in
this
form.
A
tree
is
a
new
thing
at
every
instant;
we
affirm
the
form

because
we
do
not
seize
the
subtlety
of
an
absolute
moment.
(Quoted
in

Barthes
61)


The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
2


A
kind
of
epistemological
natural
selection,
Nietzsche
theorized,
thus

governed
the
rise
of
substance—the
evolution
of
a
common‐sensical,
material,

stable,
vulgar
world—and
the
elimination
of
a
perceptual
awareness
of
perpetual

metamorphosis.


The
beings
that
did
not
see
so
precisely
had
an
advantage
over
those
that
saw

everything
"in
flux."
At
bottom,
every
high
degree
of
caution
in
making

inferences
and
every
skeptical
tendency
constitutes
a
great
danger
for
life.
No

living
beings
would
have
survived
if
the
opposite
tendency—to
affirm
rather

than
suspend
judgment,
to
err
and
make
up
things
rather
than
wait,
to
assent

rather
than
negate,
to
pass
judgment
rather
than
be
just—had
not
been
bred

to
the
point
where
it
became
extraordinarily
strong.
(171‐72)


(Bergson
meant
much
the
same
when
he
argued,
in
Creative
Evolution,
that

"A
man
is
so
much
more
a
'man
of
action'
as
he
can
embrace
in
a
glance
a
greater

number
of
events:
he
who
perceives
successive
events
one
by
one
will
allow
himself

to
be
led
by
them;
he
who
grasps
them
as
a
whole
will
dominate
them”
[327‐28].)

But
the
human
mind
has
not
always
turned
its
back
on
becoming,
despite
the

adaptive,
evolutionary
pressure
to
do
so.
Phusis
has
had
its
20th
century

reincarnations.


It
was
Owen
Barfield's
contention,
central
to
his
whole
understanding
of
"the

evolution
of
consciousness,"
that
Greek
thinking—indeed
Greek
consciousness—"was

in
a
certain
sense
alive"
(Romanticism
51).
Because
the
Greeks
were
more
"at
home
.

.
.
in
the
coming‐into‐being,
or
becoming"
than
we,
whose
thought
is
"built
.
.
.
on

the
secure
but
rigid
framework
of
logic
.
.
.
and
can
only
deal
with
the
'become,'
the

finished
product
.
.
.
,"
their
thinking
reminds
us
today
of
"a
blossoming
flower
that

is
still
moist,
alive,
in
movement,
becoming."
Heraclitus
witnessed
the
"universal

flux";
we
can
only
perceive
and
think
the
"is."
The
turning
point,
according
to

Barfield,
came
when
"Anaxagoras
set
over
against
the
for‐ever‐changing
world
of

growing
and
decaying
substance
.
.
.
the
other
principle
of
Onus
or
Mind"
and

"antithesis
(hitherto
unapprehended)
between
Spirit
and
Matter"
became
common

sense,
logic
triumphing
over
logos
and
judgment
over
justice.

Still
immersed
within
the
experience
of
becoming,
"conscious
in
it,"
the

"Greek
mind
could
not
at
first
be
conscious
of
it
as
such."
Thus,
Barfield
argues,

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
3


those
"laws"
of
nature
which
we
now
conceive
abstractly
were
to
the
Greeks
"still

apprehended
as
living
Beings."
That
aspect
of
nature
perceptible
by
the
senses
"was

itself
the
sum
of
the
accomplished
deeds
of
another
invisible
part—that
of
the

'Forms'
as
we
will
call
them.
Indeed
the
Greeks
tended
to
lose
interest
in
the
Nature

which
had
become.
.
.
."
It
was
natura
naturans
which
captured
their
imaginations,

not
natura
naturata.

But
we,
in
our
static
thought,
have
made
such
evolution‐in‐progress,
such

becoming,
into
a
mere
theory.
We
now
have,
Barfield
insists
(alluding
to
the
thought

of
Bergson),
no
experience
of
evolution:
"Now
it
is
one
of
our
four
fundamental

'Laws
of
Thought'
that
a
thing
cannot
both
be
and
not
be,
and
so
obvious
does
this

appear
to
us
that
when
we
hear
Heraclitus
maintaining
the
opposite,
we
are
inclined

to
stigmatize
him
as
a
verbal
quibbler.
This
is
because
we
can
only
think
'is';
we

cannot
really
think
'becomes'
except
as
a
kind
of
cinematic
succession
of
'is's'."

The
very
word
"evolution,"
Barfield
has
observed,
once
had
a
very
different

meaning
than
the
one
infused
into
it
by
the
19th
century
mind
as
it
changed
the

meaning
of
the
older
word
(which
still
carried
vestiges
of
the
Greek
awareness
of

becoming)
to
denote
the
cosmos
it
was
then
in
the
process
of
engineering,
and
this

1
change
reflects
the
modern
loss
of
the
experience
of
evolution. 
For
once
the
word

had
suggested
an
"unfolding,
a
gradual
and
uninterrupted
process
of
change
from

one
form
into
another,
towards
which
it
has
tended
from
the
start—from
one
form

into
another
through
a
whole
series
of
intermediate
forms,
the
one
imperceptibly

merging
into
the
other."
Once
"evolution"
called
to
mind
transformation
(onto‐
genesis)
not
mere
substitution
(a
succession
of
"is's,"
or
phylogenesis)
as
it
did
for

Darwin—a
transformation
in
which
could
be
witnessed
"a
change
from
potential
form

into
actual
and
spatial
form,
the
typical
instance
being
a
seed
or
an
embryo
evolving

by
growth
into
an
independent
plant
or
animal."


Like
Barfield,
Martin
Heidegger
found
the
pre‐Socratic
Greek
mind
attuned
to
the

emergence
and
establishment
of
the
"real"
with
a
consciousness
quite
different
from

our
own.
In
characteristic
Heidegger
fashion,
he
illustrates
this
difference
through

what
might
be
called
phenomenological
etymology
(a
method
which
he
shares
with

his
British
contemporary).
The
Greek
word
for
our
"nature,"
Heidegger
shows
in
his


1
See
Raymond
Williams’
discussion
of
‘evolution”
in
Keywords:
A
Vocabulary
of
Culture
and
Society
(103‐
105).
Barfield
discusses
the
etymology
of
“evolution”
in
“The
Evolution
Complex”
(8).

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
4


Introduction
to
Metaphysics,
encapsulates
this
change
of
consciousness
which
the

western
mind
has
undergone.

For
phusis
really
meant
to
the
Greeks,
if
we
translate
it
properly
(avoiding
the

"logomorphic"
imposition
of
our
rational
mind‐set
upon
what
was
in
reality
a
pre‐
rational
logos),
nothing
like
the
given,
known,
"natural"
world
suggested
by
"nature"

(a
Latinate
word
which,
in
typically
Roman
fashion,
became
routinized,
obliterating

2
the
sense
of
wonder
implicit
in
the
Greek
equivalent). 
Phusis
was,
rather,
nothing

less
than
"self‐blossoming
emergence
(e.g.
the
blossoming
of
a
rose),
opening
up,

unfolding,
that
which
manifests
itself
in
such
unfolding
and
preserves
and
endures
in

it"
(Metaphysics
11‐12;
my
italics).All
truth—to
the
pre‐Socratics
aletheia,
the

unconcealed—was,
Heidegger
explains,
the
result
of
the
"gathering
in"
(the
root

meaning
of
logos)
of
the
fruits
of
this
unfolding
in
a
process
they
knew
as
poiesis,
of

which
techne
was
understood
to
be
only
a
sub‐set,
a
lesser
activity.
George
Steiner

has
explained
this
difficult
aspect
of
Heidegger's
philosophy
of
being
with
admirable

clarity.


Once,
says
Heidegger,
nature
was
phusis,
the
archaic
designation
of
natural

reality
which
he
reads
as
containing
within
itself
the
Greek
sense
for
"coming

into
radiant
being"
(as
is
still
faintly
discernible
in
our
word
"phenomenon").

Phusis
proclaimed
the
same
process
of
creation
that
generates
a
work
of
art.

It
was,
in
the
best
sense,
poiesis—a
making,
a
bringing
forth.
The
blossom

breaking
from
the
bud
and
unfolding
into
its
proper
being
(en
eauto)
is
at

once
the
realization
of
phusis
and
poiesis,
or
organic
drive—Dylan
Thomas's

"green
fuse"—and
of
the
formal
creative
—conservative
dynamism
we

experience
in
art.
(137)


The
Greek
awareness
of
phusis,
in
which
a
tree
might
be
recognized
in
fact
as

"a
new
thing
at
every
instant,"
could
not
long
be
endured,
however.
phusis
became

natura
merely;
becoming
became
become;
what
Heidegger
calls
the
"ought"
was

imposed
upon
the
world
of
perception,
and
truth
became
almost
exclusively
a
matter

of
correctness,
not
revelation
(Mehta
138,
147‐51).
And
whether
we
accept
as


2
The
early
Greek
philosophers
(as
Aristotle
explainsin
the
Metaphysics
[1005])
were
even
known
as
the

phusikoi—those
who
concerned
themselves
with
the
processes
of
growth
and
genesis.
See
H.
F.
Peters,
Greek

Philosophical
terms:
A
Historical
Lexicon
(158‐60).

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
5


explanation
Nietzsche's
Darwinistic
historical
epistemology,
or
Barfield's
theory
of

the
evolution
of
consciousness,
or
Heidegger's
history
of
Being,

Yet
throughout
the
history
of
the
West,
it
seems,
certain
individuals,
despite

the
pressure
to
forget
becoming
and
concentrate
on
the
objective
"is,"
have
retained

an
atavistic
awareness
of
phusis,
have
kept
alive
an
"openness
to
the
mystery"
even

in
a
time
which
Heidegger
has
characterized
as
the
"oblivion
of
Being."
(All
great

3
genius,
Nietzsche
had
speculated,
may
after
all
be
atavistic. )
For
a
distinct
sub‐
species
of
the
race,
such
a
consciousness
might
even
be
called
"species‐specific."

After
all,
as
Steiner
observes,
phusis
and
poiesis
have
always
been
united—and
the

"blossom
breaking
from
the
bud
and
unfolding
into
its
proper
being"
always
an
ever‐
present
reality
of
perception
and
imagination—for
the
artist.
Artists,
being
the

antennae
of
the
race,
have
never
forgotten
their
allegiance
to
the
"self‐blossoming

emergence"
of
things;
artists
have
kept
alive
for
the
species
an
authentic
awareness

of
becoming.


E v o lu tio n ,
R e la tiv ity ,
a n d 
th e 
M o m e n to u s


And
would
not
the
whole
of
history
be
contained
in
a
very
short
time
for
a

consciousness
at
a
higher
degree
of
tension
than
our
own,
which
would
watch
the

development
of
humanity
while
contracting
it,
so
to
speak,
into
the
great
phases
of

its
evolution?
In
short,
then,
to
perceive
consists
in
condensing
enormous
periods
of

an
infinitely
diluted
existence
into
a
few
more
differentiated
moments
of
an

intensive
life,
and
in
the
summing
up
of
a
very
long
history.

Henri
Bergson,
Matter
and
Memory


Ordinarily,
human
experience
of
events
is,
like
that
of
every
creature,
limited
by

what
ethologists
have
deemed
our
"moment":
by,
that
is,
the
innate
biological
pace

at
which
we,
like
all
creatures,
are
capable
of
perceiving
the
world.
Since
our


3
In
The
Gay
Science
(84),
Nietzsche
writes:


A
kind
of
atavism—I
prefer
to
understand
the
rare
human
beings
of
an
age
as
suddenly
emerging
late
ghosts

of
past
cultures
and
their
powers—as
atavisms
of
a
people
and
its
more:
that
way
one
really
can
understand

a
little
about
them.
Now
they
seem
strange,
rare,
extraordinary;
and
whoever
feels
these
powers
in
himself

must
nurse,
defend,
honor,
and
cultivate
them
against
another
world
that
resists
themuntil
he
becomes

either
a
great
human
being
or
a
mad
and
eccentric
one—or
perishes
early.”


Another
hypothesis
for
the
source
of
time‐lapse
consciousness
in
our
time:
Jung
suggests
that
the
“collective

unconscious,”
in
its
almost
instinctual
depths,
possesses
a
“living
sense
of
the
rhythm
of
growth,
flowering,
and

decay”
as
part
of
the
accumulated
psycho‐biological
wisdom
of
mankind.
See
“Basic
Postulates
of
Analytical

Psychology”
(paragraph
673).

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
6


species'
moment
is
approximately
1/24th
of
a
second,
any
event
which
in
its

"presentational
immediacy"
(Whitehead)
is
more
rapid
cannot
be
consciously

detected
by
us.

A
series
of
taps
administered
to
the
skin
at
a
very
rapid
rate
of
speed
will

thus
be
perceived
by
us
as
one
continuous
tap.
Or,
to
use
a
better
known
example,
if

motion
picture
film
is
projected
onto
a
screen
at
a
rate
of
twenty
four
frames
a

second,
each
image
remaining
on
the
screen
for
approximately
1/24th
of
a
second,

the
image
will
appear
to
the
human
mind
as
continuous,
thanks
to
"persistence
of

vision."
Every
movie
is,
in
reality,
a
very
rapid
slide
show,
but
the
innate
limits
of

our
moment
keep
us
from
seeing
it
as
such.
Our
inability
to
see
any
faster
than
we

do
"animates"
the
individual
photographs
and
transforms
them
into
a
moving

picture.
Similarly,
extremely
slow
events—for
example,
the
blossoming
of
a
flower—
are
below
our
moment
and
likewise
imperceptible.
Thus
every
creature's
moment

locks
it
into
the
world
at
a
particular
frequency,
allowing
experience
of
only
a

limited
range
of
tempos,
though
worlds
upon
worlds—dimensions
which
I
will
called,

taken
collectively,
the
"momentous"—continue
to
exist
beyond
its
ken.

Fascinated
with
the
nature
of
the
phenomenal
or
self‐world
surrounding
every

living
creature,
including
human
beings,
pioneer
German
ethologist
Baron
Jacob
von

Uexkull
(18xx‐19xx),
author
of
such
works
as
A
Stroll
Through
the
Garden
of
Animals

and
Men
and
Theoretical
Biology,
suggested
that
every
sentient
being
is
governed
by

what
he
called
an
"Umwelt."
A
creature's
Umwelt,
Uexkull
thought,
is
a
biologically

determined
adaptation
to
a
particular
environment,
the
long
term
result
of
a
lengthy

period
of
evolutionary
development
and
the
immediate
effect,
in
part,
of
a

creature's
very
metabolism,
of
its
moment.

An
Umwelt,
Uexkull
imagined,
is
like
a
soap‐bubble
surrounding
the
individual

being,
filtering
all
that
it
sees
and
feels,
and
yet
it
is
almost
impossible
to
grasp
and

to
witness,
so
close
does
it
lie
to
the
intrinsic,
tacit
nature
of
the
creature,
so
much

does
it
constitute
the
substance
of
its
accustomed
orientation.


As
the
spider
spins
its
threads,
every
subject
spins
his
relations
to
certain

characteristics
of
the
things
around
him,
and
weaves
them
in
a
firm
web

which
carves
his
existence.


In
Heidegger's
ontological
terms,
the
Umwelt
is
a
"world"
which
cannot
be
easily

observed
because
it
is
that
"with
which"
we
see,
rather
than
"what"
we
see.
(This

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
7


tradition
of
thought
has
its
origin,
of
course,
in
Kant's
conception
of
the
"categories

of
human
understanding,
a
tradition
to
which
Uexkull
consciously
attempts
to
add
a

biological
and
semiotic
grounding.)

The
Umwelten
of
some
creatures,
Uexkull
informs
us,
are
rich,
while
those
of

others
are
exceedingly
poor.
For
a
cattle
tick
Uexkull
describes,
up
to
eighteen
years

may
pass
without
a
single
accented
sensation!
(Bleibtreu
17).
But
for
every
creature

the
situation
is,
in
one
sense,
the
same:


All
psychic
processes,
feelings,
and
thoughts
are
invariably
bound
to
a

definite
moment
and
proceed
contemporaneously
with
objective
sensations.
.

.
.
.
Time
envelops
both
the
subjective
and
objective
worlds
in
the
same
way,

and,
unlike
space,
makes
no
distinction
between
them.
(Theoretical
Biology

15)


But
human
beings,
of
course,
can
escape
the
moment.
We
alone
among
the

species
on
this
plant
can
come
to
know
something
of
the
"Momentous"
itself.
What

other
creature
shows
such
concern,
both
scientific
and
artistic,
with
the
inscapes
of

other
living
creatures?
What
other
creature
can
transcend
its
own
moment
to

investigate
the
duration
of
the
cosmos
itself?
What
other
creature
could
realize
the

Theory
of
Relativity
or
propose
the
idea
of
the
Big
Bang?


As
the
Dutch
phenomenological
psychologist
J.
H.
van
den
Berg
has
shown,
we
have

in
the
modern
age
nevertheless
become
increasingly
oblivious
to
the
"tempo"
of
the

4
world. 
Building
on
a
Cartesian,
quality‐denying
philosophical
foundation,
committed

ideological
to
the
equalizing
of
all
dimensions,
epistemological
as
well
as
social,

increasingly
obsessed
with
domination,
through
speed
and
power,
of
a
landscape
for

which
we
have
little
respect,
convinced
that
time
itself
represents
imperfection,
and

aided
mightily
the
omnipresence
of
mechanical
clocks
designed
to
"restrain
the

changing
of
things,
to
camouflage
this
changing
as
much
as
possible"
(113),
we

constructed
from
1740
through
1900
an
homogenized
world
almost
devoid
of
tempo.

"Time
exists,"
van
den
Berg
observes,
"only
when
one
takes
the
time"—a

contemporary
rarity.
When
he
himself
"takes
the
time"
in
Things:
Four
Metabletic


4
By
‘tempo”
van
den
Berg
means
the
natural,
innate
reality
of
things
in
biological
time,
apart
from
humanly

iposed
structure
and
stability.

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
8


5
Reflections, 
he
discovers
that
"each
place
has
its
own
time,"
its
own
tempo:
clouds,

trees,
plants,
the
whole
of
the
surrounding
landscape
are
filled
with
different
times:


In
between
the
flowers
a
different
time
prevails
than
on
the
lawn.
Times
goes

a
little
faster
there.
Above
me,
among
the
feather
clouds,
time
goes
even

faster.
.
.
.
The
sea
has
a
different
time
than
the
land.
A
lake
in
a
forest
is
a

realm
of
a
different
time.
Sometimes
a
single
tree
or
bush
can
draw
attention

because
of
the
distinctive
time
prevailing
around
it.
There
are
flowers
which

disclose
new
times
at
certain
moments
of
the
day.
When
the
thorn‐apple

opens
up
in
the
evening,
a
new
and
faster
time
governs
this
flower.
And
the

real
reason
isn't
that
the
flower
moves
at
that
time,
but
just
the
opposite.

Because
a
different
time
governs
that
flower
in
the
evening,
the
flower
opens

quickly
in
that
particular
way
and
invites
the
hawk‐moth,
which
is
endowed

with
fast
time
and
flies
precisely
in
that
particular
way.
For
what
is
speed
if
it

isn't
born
by
speedy,
"time‐consuming"
things,
plants,
or
animals?


Compared
with
the
toad,
the
frog
is
fast,
even
when
it
doesn't
stir
and,
on
the
basis

of
its
particular
speed,
the
frog
leaps,
while
the
toad
crawls
by
virtue
of
the
time

that
is
its
own.


Human
beings,
van
den
Berg
reminds,
are
likewise
governed
by
their
own,
often

idiosyncratic,
tempos:
"Even
people
have
a
time
of
their
own;
each
one,
I
suspect,

has
one
for
himself.
The
botanist
is
marked
by
a
different
time
than
the
geologist.

The
zoologist
who
specializes
in
diptera
is
by
virtue
of
his
time,
his
tempo
and

duration,
a
different
man
than
his
colleague
who
prefers
to
limit
himself
to
bumble

bees"
(123).

All
these
tempos,
van
den
Berg
discovers,
co‐exist,
moments
of
the

Momentous,
in
a
marvelous
ecology:


An
effortless
unity
governs
what
I
see,
a
unity
in
time,
strange
as
it
may

seem.
For
just
now
when
I
observed
for
the
first
time
that
in
different
places

times
move
at
a
different
speed,
I
thought
that
I
therefore
ought
to
conclude


5
Things
is
comprised
of
phenomenological
reflections
on
dimensions,
colors,
the
shape
of
the
earth,
and

time.
“Metabletics,”
a
discipline
which
van
den
Berg
himself
invented,
is
the
study
of
historical
change,
considered

psychologically.”

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
9


that
the
places
of
such
different
times
couldn't
possibly
remain
synchronous.

One
place
would
lag
behind
the
others
and
be
stuck
with
a
surplus
of
time
at

the
end
of
the
day,
while
other
places
would
run
short.
But
I
see
my
mistake:
I

was
fooled
by
the
idea
of
an
absolute.
Uniform,
uniformly
progressing
time

possessing
only
one
speed.
I
must
abandon
that
idea.
(122)


That
very
idea,
however,
has
fooled,
and
continues
to
fool,
most
of
us:
"There
is

hardly
anybody
who
still
thinks
that
things
change
in
reality"
(114).


Writing
in
the
1920s,
Paul
Valéry
insisted
that
"we—who
cannot
even
perceive
our

own
growth—are
unable
to
visualize
a
movement
so
slow
that
a
perceptible
result

springs
from
an
imperceptible
change."
The
human
mind,
Valéry
wrote,
"can
imagine

the
living
process
only
by
lending
it
a
rhythm
which
is
specifically
ours
.
.
."
("Man

and
the
Sea
Shell"
xxx).

Thinking
of
the
radical
nature
of
modern
knowledge—in
cosmology,
geology,

evolutionary
biology,
physics—Teilhard
de
Chardin
observes
in
The
Phenomenon
of

Man
that
in
this
century
our
species
seems
to
be
acquiring
new
senses,
the
latest

additions
to
a
"whole
series
of
'senses'
.
.
.
whose
gradual
acquisition
.
.
.
covers
and

punctuates
the
whole
history
of
the
struggles
of
the
mind."
One
of
these
new
senses

he
describes
will
be
one
Valéry
denies
us:
a
"sense
of
movement,
capable
of

perceiving
the
irresistible
developments
hidden
in
extreme
slowness—extreme

agitation
concealed
beneath
a
veil
of
immobility—the
entirely
new
insinuating
itself

into
the
heart
of
the
monotonous
repetition
of
the
same
things"
(34).

Time‐lapse
photography,
as
we
shall
see,
may
prove
instrumental
to
the

perfection
of
this
sense,
but
the
sense
itself
is
not
in
essence
instrumental
but
part

of
human
potential
inasmuch
as
we
realize
ourselves
to
be
momentous,
poetic

beings.
It
would
appear
that
ability
to
see
"the
irresistible
developments
hidden
in

extreme
slowness"
may
have
long
been
with
us.

"The
sages,"
said
the
Taoist
philosopher
Chuang‐tzu,
"contemplate
ten

thousand
years
and
count
them
as
a
pure
complete
oneness"
(Chang
73).
The
final

effect
of
the
acquisition
of
an
evolutionary
sense,
from
cosmology
through
biology,

might
be
to
make
men
into
such
sages.


In
Woman
Warrior,
in
the
chapter
entitled
"White
Tigers,"
Maxine
Hong
Kingston,

enthralled
by
her
mother's
"talkstory"
versions
of
ancient
Chinese
myths,
imagines

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
10


herself
as
Fa
Mu
Lan,
a
fabled
woman
who
apprenticed
herself
to
an
elderly
man
and

woman
in
a
mountain
sanctuary
in
order
to
become
a
woman
of
power.
As
part
of
her

archetypal
training
as
a
warrior,
she
learns
from
her
mentors
the
distinctly
Taoist

aptitude
for
seeing
"the
Dragon,"
always,
in
ancient
Taoist
lore,
a
figure
for
the

living
Earth
and
its
ways.

"After
I
returned
from
my
survival
test,"
Kingston
recalls,
"the
two
old
people

trained
me
in
dragon
ways,
which
took
another
eight
years.
.
.
.


You
have
to
infer
the
whole
dragon
from
the
parts
you
can
see
and
touch,"

the
old
people
would
say.
.
.
.
dragons
are
so
immense,
I
would
never
see
one

in
its
entirety.
But
I
could
explore
the
mountains,
which
are
the
top
of
its

head.
"These
mountains
are
also
like
the
tops
of
other
dragons'
heads,"
the

old
people
would
tell
me.
When
climbing
the
slopes,
I
could
understand
that
I

was
a
bug
riding
on
a
dragon's
forehead
as
it
roams
through
space,
its
speed

so
different
from
my
speed
that
I
feel
the
dragon
solid
and
immobile.


But
she
expands
her
moment
to
encompass
that
of
the
dragon.


In
quarries
I
could
see
its
strata,
the
dragon's
veins
and
muscles;
the

minerals,
its
teeth
and
bone.
I
could
touch
the
stones
the
old
woman
wore—
its
bone
marrow.
I
had
worked
the
soil,
which
is
its
flesh,
and
harvested
the

plants
and
climbed
the
trees,
which
are
its
hairs.
I
could
listen
to
its
voice
in

the
thunder
and
feel
its
breathing
in
the
winds,
see
its
breathing
in
the

clouds.
Its
tongue
is
the
lightning.
And
the
red
that
the
lightning
gives
to
the

world
is
strong
and
lucky—in
blood,
poppies,
roses,
rubies,
the
red
feathers

of
birds,
the
red
carp,
the
cherry
tree,
the
peony,
the
line
alongside
the

turtle's
eyes
and
the
mallard's.
In
the
spring
when
the
dragon
awakes,
I

watched
its
turnings
in
the
rivers.


"The
closest
I
came
to
seeing
a
dragon
whole,"
Kingston
notes
in
passing,

"was
when
the
old
people
cut
away
a
small
strip
of
bark
on
a
pine
that
was
over

three
thousand
years
old.
The
resin
underneath
flows
in
the
swirling
shapes
of

dragons."

So
far
advanced,
in
fact,
is
our
current
awareness
of
the
"the
entirely
new

insinuating
itself
into
the
heart
of
the
monotonous
repetition
of
the
same
things,"
so

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
11


close
have
we
come
to
contemplating
nature
and
time
as
a
"pure
complete
oneness,"

that
at
least
one
contemporary
physicist
has
argued
that
we
can
no
longer
even
be

certain
that
"rocks,
and
even
mountain
ranges,
do
not
react
as
living
organisms
with

a
reaction
time
so
slow
that
to
catch
it
with
time‐lapse
photography
would
require

millennia
between
exposures
.
.
.
"
(Zukav
46‐47).


Einstein
himself,
the
father
of
such
relativistic
thinking,
was
fascinated
with
the

prospect
offered
man
by
the
potential
acquisition
of
new
senses
like
Teilhard

described.
In
his
conversation
with
Alexander
Moszykowski
he
speculated
about
the

biological
implications
of
his
own
theory
of
relativity
and
their
effect
on
our

perception.
Since
every
creature's
internal
clock—its
moment—gives
it
only
a

relative,
subjective
perception
and
orientation
toward
the
multiplicity
of
tempos
in

the
world,
a
drastic
change
in
man's
clock,
Einstein
hypothesized,
would
presumably

alter
our
very
measure
of
relativity;
for
as
Moszykowski
explains
(paraphrasing

Einstein):


Only
when
compared
with
our
own
measure
of
time
does
an
organic

individual,
say,
a
plant,
appear
as
something
permanent
in
size
and
shape,
at

least
within
a
short
interval.
For
we
may
look
at
it
a
hundred
times
and
more

in
a
minute,
and
yet
notice
no
external
change
in
it.
Now,
if
we
suppose
the

pulse‐beat,
the
rate
of
perception,
the
external
course
of
life,
and
the
mental

process
of
Man,
very
considerably
accelerated
or
retarded,
the
state
of
affairs

becomes
greatly
changed,
and
phenomena
then
occur
which
we,
fettered
by

our
physiological
structure,
should
have
to
reject
as
being
fantastic
and

supernatural,
although
on
the
supposition
of
a
new
structure
they
would
be

quite
logical
and
necessary.
(163‐64)


If,
for
example,
our
pulse
beat
were
a
thousand
times
faster,
Einstein

predicted,
we
would
be
able
to
see
a
bullet
at
each
point
of
its
flight
as
easily
as
we

now
follow
the
course
of
a
butterfly's
movement.
Or,
if
our
pulse
were
increased
by

a
thousand
times
again,
a
flower
would
appear
as
rigid
and
immutable
to
us
as
the

earth's
crust
now
seems;
and
the
motions
of
animals
would
be
too
slow
to
be

witnessed
and
would
have
to
be
inferred,
as
the
motions
of
stars
are
now.
At
an
even

greater
acceleration,
Einstein
speculated,
light
would
become
audible.

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
12


But
if
the
human
moment
were,
conversely,
slowed
1000
times—if
we

acquired
a
time‐lapse
vision
of
things—a
year
at
present
would
become
a
third
of
a

day:
growth
would
spring
up
so
rapidly
that
it
would
be
scarcely
perceptible;
the
sun

would
flash
rapidly
across
the
sky.
Another
slowing
by
a
thousand
times
would
result

in
the
total
elimination
of
the
difference
between
day
and
night,
and
all
changes
of

form
would
melt
into
a
"wild
stream
of
happening
engulfed
in
its
onward
rush.
("In

reality,"
Henri
Bergson
writes
in
Matter
and
Memory,
"there
is
no
one
rhythm
of

duration;
it
is
possible
to
imagine
many
different
rhythms
which,
slower
or
faster,

measure
the
degree
of
tension
or
relaxation
of
different
kinds
of
consciousness,
and

thereby
fix
their
places
in
the
scale
of
being
.
.
."
[xxx].)

These
breathtaking
flights
of
Einstein's
imagination—are
they
not,
in
a
sense,

the
very
accelerations
and
retardations
of
the
human
moment
the
"real"
existence
of

which
he
took
to
be
merely
hypothetical,
a
"thought
experiment"?
For
is
not
the

human
imagination
the
means
by
which
man
escapes,
through
the
gate
of
the

imagination,
the
biologically
given
boundaries
of
his
own
moment
in
order
to
explore

and
to
understand,
and
even
to
empathize
with,
all
possible
moments—those
of

other
creatures,
for
example,
and
the
realm
of
time‐in‐the‐abstract
which
contains

them
all,
what
we
might
call
"the
momentous"—thereby
discovering
such
momentous

new
perspectives
on
the
world
(new
senses,
Teilhard
would
call
them)
as
the
theory

of
relativity,
or
the
idea
of
evolution?


In
this
century,
"the
age
of
Einstein"
and
of
relativity,
in
a
time
in
which
van
den

Berg
detects
"the
mutability
of
things
again
[gaining]
the
upper‐hand"
(117),
when

"we
even
hear
of
a
discovery
of
time
.
.
.
held
to
be
the
essential
mark
of
modern

thought,"
when
time
has
even
come
to
be
"recognized
as
the
foundation
of
all

existence,"
and
"to
renounce
temporality
is
not
to
renounce
imperfection
but
rather

to
renounce
true
being"
(Zuckenkandl
xxxx),
art's
faithful
remembrance
of

phusis/poiesis
has
been
aided
by
the
advent
of
a
new
art
form:
the
movies,
the
art
of

the
20th
century
and
an
art
seemingly
well
suited
to
reminding
us
that
things
do

change
in
reality.
The
"prison‐world"
of
the
known,
Walter
Benjamin
wrote
in
"The

Work
of
Art
in
the
Age
of
Mechanical
Reproduction"
(1936),
was
"locked‐up."
But

"then
came
the
film
and
burst
the
prison‐world
asunder
by
the
dynamite
of
the
tenth

of
a
second."

And
along
with
the
invention
of
this
new
technology
of
artistic
seeing
came

the
perfection
of
a
specialized
kind
of
"dynamite,"
a
photographic
technique
which,

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
13


it
might
be
said,
seemed
virtually
a
modern
reincarnation,
a
second
coming,
of
the

ancient
consciousness
of
metamorphosis:
time‐lapse
photography.


T im e ‐L a p se 
P h o to g ra p h y :
H isto ry 
a n d 
P ra c tic e 


When
we
were
children,
and
were
taught
natural
history,
we
were
told
about
bees

and
how
they
lived.
We
looked
at
the
motionless
images
in
our
books
but
all
of
that

was
very
distant
for
us,
a
land
open
only
to
the
imagination.
With
cinema,
no
more

unexplored
countries.
No
more
barriers
between
us
and
things!
No
more
barrier

between
our
spirit
and
truth
in
its
subtlety!
Moreover,
scientifically,
cinema
casts

upon
everything
it
records
a
clear
light
which
banishes
errors
and
distortions.

The
cinema
is
an
eye
wide
open
on
life,
an
eye
more
powerful
than
our
own

and
which
sees
things
we
cannot
see.

Germaine
Dulac



In
"The
Conquest
of
Ubiquity"
(1928),
a
brief
but
suggestive
essay
on
the
response
of

the
arts
of
this
century
to
new
technology,
Paul
Valéry
argued
that
the
future
will

see
successful,
and
hitherto
unforeseen,
new
marriages
of
form
and
technique.
"Our

fine
arts
were
developed,
their
types
and
uses
were
established,"
Valéry
reminds,
"in

times
very
different
from
the
present,
by
men
whose
power
of
action
upon
things

was
insignificant
in
comparison
with
ours.
But
the
amazing
growth
of
our
technique,

the
adaptability
and
precision
they
have
attained,
the
ideas
and
habits
they
are

creating,
make
it
a
certainty
that
profound
changes
are
impending
in
the
ancient

craft
of
the
beautiful"
(225;
my
italics).

Keenly
aware
of
developments
in
modern
science—Einsteinian
relativity,
for

example,
or
quantum
physics—Valéry
predicted
that
man's
burgeoning
scientific

knowledge
and
technological
command
would,
in
altering
the
customary
"sensorium"

of
the
species
(Ong
1‐16),
bring
about
a
kind
of
aesthetic
future
shock.
"In
all
the

arts
there
is
a
physical
component
which
cannot
remain
unaffected
by
our
modern

knowledge
and
power,"
writes
Valéry
(continuing
a
century‐long
meditation,
begun
in

6
earnest
by
the
romantics,
on
science's
impact
on
poetry). 
"For
the
last
twenty
years


6
In
a
central
early
text
of
this
tradition,
the
“Preface
to
Lyrical
Ballads,”
Wordsworth
had
declared
the
fond

hope
that
“If
the
labours
of
Men
of
science
should
ever
create
any
material
revolution,
direct
or
indirect,
in
our

conditions
and
in
the
impressions
which
we
habitually
receive,
the
Poet
will
skeep
then
no
more
than
at
present;
he

will
be
ready
to
follow
the
steps
of
the
Man
of
science,
not
only
in
those
general
indirect
effects,
but
he
will
be
at
his

side,
carrying
sensation
into
the
midst
of
the
objects
of
science
itself.”
By
the
time
of
Valéry,
the
question
had

become
not
whether
poetry
will
actively
follow
science,
but
rather
in
what
way
poetry
(and
all
the
arts)
are

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
14


neither
matter
nor
space
nor
time
has
been
what
it
was
from
time
immemorial.
We

must
expect
great
innovations
to
transform
the
entire
technique
of
the
arts,
thereby

affecting
artistic
invention
itself
and
perhaps
even
bringing
about
an
amazing
change

in
our
very
notion
of
art."

The
subsequent
history
of
the
arts
in
this
century
has
certainly
proven
Valéry

correct.
The
well‐documented
impact
of
sound
recording
on
music,
or
the
influence

of
cinematic
narrative
on
fiction
might
be
cited
as
prominent
examples.
And
yet
not

all
the
changes
inspired
(forced?)
by
new
technique
have
brought
about
radically

new
notions
of
art.
In
at
least
one
instance—the
specialized
photographic
technique

known
as
time‐lapse
photography—the
result
has
been
the
atavistic
re‐emergence
of

seemingly
lost
powers
of
human
consciousness
and
imagination.


Time‐lapse
photography
is
a
cinematic
technique,
similar
in
principle
to
animation,

in
which
the
exposure
of
“individual
frames
of
film
at
pre‐determined
intervals”

results
in
a
“compressed
visual
record
of
events
occurring
over
long
periods
of
time”

when
these
frames
are
later
projected
at
normal
speed
(Katz
1135).
Ordinarily,
film

is
projected
on
a
screen
at
the
rate
of
twenty
four
frames
per
second:
the
same
rate

at
which
the
photographs
are
recorded.
But
a
time‐lapse
camera
modifies
this

tempo—as
Field
and
Smith,
themselves
time‐lapse
pioneers,
explain.


Supposing,
now,
that
we
modify
our
taking
camera
to
photograph
one
picture

per
second
instead
of
twenty‐four;
it
is
obvious
that
the
whole
of
the

incidents
of
a
twenty‐four
second
period
will
be
crowded
on
to
a
length
of

film
which
will
pass
through
the
projector
in
a
single
second.
We
therefore

have
movement
depicted
on
the
screen
at
twenty‐four
times
its
actual
rate
of

speed.
If
we
take
one
picture
per
minute
we
increase
the
speed
in
proportion,

that
is
to
say
to
1440
times.


(While
climbing
plants—peas,
beans,
etc.—can
be
captured
through
acceleration
of

only
one
hundred
times,
most
plants
require
much
more;
an
average
of
one
picture

per
hour
is
common:
a
speed‐magnification
of
96,000
times
[Smith
and
Field
137‐
38].)
A
second
example:
in
order
to
show
the
unfolding
of
a
rose—a
roughly
twenty

hour
process—in
time‐lapse,
it
would
be
necessary
to
"sample"
its
progress
by


transformed,
almost
against
their
will,
but
technology.
Stephen
Kern’s
The
Culture
of
Space
and
Time
1880‐1918

presents
an
excellent
oveerview
of
the
historical
development
of
which
Valéry
speaks.

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
15


exposing
one
frame
every
fifteen
minutes.
The
ninety
six
frames
thus
photographed

would
take
only
about
four
seconds
to
project.

According
to
Herbert
Zittl,
time‐lapse
as
a
photographic
technique
has
several

distinctive
aesthetic
features.
Time‐lapse
has
"relatively
few
'at'
positions."
"Much

like
strobe
photography,"
Zittl
explains,
"film
photography
also
seems
to
validate
his

theory.
For
film
photography
involves
taking
a
great
number
of
snapshots
of
a

moving
object.
Each
of
the
snapshots,
or
frames,
shows
the
object
at
rest,
so
that

when
you
hold
and
enlarge
a
single
film
frame,
you
cannot
tell
whether
the
object

was
in
motion
when
the
picture
was
taken
or
was
stationary"
(259).
Every
frame
of
a

film—each
showing
an
object
seemingly
at
rest—captures
"an
'at'
position
of
the

time
continuum,
a
snapshot
of
part
of
the
motion"
(260).
As
"at‐at"
positions

increase
in
number,
the
faster
the
movement
we
perceive
as
viewers.
The
less

"position
change,"
the
slower
the
movement.
While
in
slow
motion
the
frame
density

is
quite
high,
in
time‐lapse
(and
other
forms
of
accelerated
motion)
the
frame

density
is
low"
(Zittl
270).
Movement
revealed
by
time‐lapse
is
thus
more
erratic
and

"jumpy."
Objects
shown
in
accelerated
motion,
Zittl
observes,
"objects
sometimes

seem
to
be
self‐propelled,
shooting
unpredictably
through
the
low‐density

atmosphere
that
offers
little,
if
any,
resistance
to
their
movement"
(271).

Watching
time‐lapse,
the
viewer,
fascinated
by
the
sudden
concreteness
of
an

invisibility
to
which
he
has
miraculously
become
an
eye‐witness,
feels
his
own

thinking
aesthetically
transformed
into
something
like
"a
blossoming
flower
that
is

still
moist,
alive,
in
movement,
becoming"
(Steiner
xxx).
It
is
as
if,
with
the
"uncanny

discovery
of
a
new
living
world
in
a
sphere
in
which
one
had
of
course
always

admitted
life
existed
but
had
never
been
able
to
see
.
.
.
in
action"
(Arnheim
115),

the
"implicate
order"
of
nature,
into
which—as
physicist
David
Bohm
informs
us—all

existing
and
potential
phenomena
are
infolded,
were
suddenly
unfolding
before
us,

7
displayed. 

In
the
imaginal
science
of
Leo
Lionni's
delightful
Parallel
Botany,
we
learn
of
a

type
of
plant
which
"grow[s]
in
the
rhythm
of
our
subjective
time
and
eventually

take[s]
the
form
of
a
long
and
intricate
conceptual
process."
Having
long
ago
lost

their
existentiality,
these
plants
can
now
be
perceived,
Lionni
explains,
only
by
"the

principles
and
methods
of
phenomenology"
(13‐14).
The
revelations
of
time‐lapse


7
Bohm
has
argued
that
the
word
“display”
should,
in
fact,
replace
the
word
“imagine”
in
our
understanding

of
mental
functioning.
See
Ted
Peters,
“David
Bohm,
Postmodernism,
and
the
Divine”
and,
as
well,
Reneé
Weber’s

interview
with
Bohm,
“Of
Matter
and
Meaning:
The
Superimplicate
Order.”

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
16


photography
are,
of
course,
quite
real,
technologically
enhanced
visions
of
palpable

realities,
and
yet
for
the
viewer,
at
least,
it
would
be
easy
to
believe
they
share
a

family
resemblance
to
the
chimeras
Lionni
describes.


H isto ry 

First
envisioned
theoretically
by
physicist
Ernst
Mach
in
1888
(Darius
18),
time‐lapse

was
not
implemented
until
a
decade
later.
In
1898
the
first
time‐lapse
film,
a
record

of
the
growth
of
beans
over
an
eleven
day
period,
telescoped
12,000
times
so
as
to

last
but
a
few
seconds,
was
created
by
the
German
botanist
Wilhelm
Pfeffer.
The
new

technique
was
soon
coupled
with
the
microscope
by
the
French
cinematic
innovator

Jules
Etienne
Marey
in
order
to
capture,
by
means
of
"photographic
alchemy,"
the

motion
of
blood
corpuscles.

In
the
1890's
the
Biograph
studios
filmed
the
demolition
of
the
old
Star

Theater
by
exposing
a
single
frame
of
film
every
thirty
minutes.
In
a
mere
thirty

seconds,
the
audience
watched
amazed
as
the
building
disintegrated
before
their

very
eyes
(Macgown
16).
In
1904,
Pizon
used
a
form
of
time‐lapse
he
deemed

"biotachygrapy"
to
record
the
growth
and
development
of
a
colony
of
bacteria

(Darius
18).

By
1911
the
general
public
was
already
witnessing
theatrical
presentations
of

the
"secret
life
of
plants"
by
means
of
time‐lapse
photography.
The
French
writer

Colette
has
left
a
record
(in
an
essay
called
"The
Cinema")
of
a
1920
Parisian

screening
of
such
films.
In
a
memorable
passage,
she
describes
her
fascination
with

slow‐motion
photography:


last
Thursday
at
the
Musee
Galliera,
there
were
two
moments
when
all
the

young
hands
clapped,
when
the
mouths
exhaled
and
then
immediately
cut

short
their
"Ahs"
of
respectful
ecstasy.
In
the
first
one,
a
"slow
motion"
shot

rose
from
the
ground,
immobilized
itself
in
the
air,
then
held
on
a
sea
gull

suspended
in
the
breeze.
The
undulation
and
the
flexing
of
the
wings,
the

mechanism
of
guiding
and
direction
in
the
tail,
the
whole
secret
of
flight,
the

whole
simple
mystery
of
aviation,
revealed
in
an
instant,
dazzled
everyone's

eyes.


But
it
was
time‐lapse
photography,
shown
on
the
same
program,
which
most

captivated
her
poetic
imagination.

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
17



A
bit
later,
a
"fast
motion"
documentary
documented
the
germination
of
a

bean
[Pfeffer's
1898
film
perhaps?].
.
.
.
At
the
revelation
of
the
intentional

and
intelligent
movement
of
the
plant,
I
saw
children
get
up,
imitate
the

extraordinary
ascent
of
a
plant
climbing
in
a
spiral,
avoiding
an
obstacle,

groping
over
its
trellis:
"It's
looking
for
something!
It's
looking
for

something!"
cried
a
little
boy,
profoundly
affected.
He
dreamed
of
a
plant

that
night,
and
so
did
I.
These
spectacles
are
never
forgotten
and
give
us
the

thirst
for
further
knowledge.
(61)


So
favorable
was
the
response
of
early
film
audiences,
in
fact,
that
in
one
recorded

instance
a
crowd
in
Lewisham,
England
insisted
that
the
film
"The
Birth
of
a
Flower"

be
rewound
and
re‐projected
for
their
enjoyment
(Field
139).

In
the
first
half
of
the
century
time‐lapse
pioneers
like
the
British
naturalist

Percy
Smith
and
the
American
inventor
John
Ott
continued
to
perfect
the
new

technique.
In
a
series
of
films
made
before
the
First
World
War—The
World
Before

Your
Eyes—and
in
two
later
series—Secrets
of
Nature
and
Secrets
of
Life,
Smith
and

his
colleagues
developed
"cinebiology"
as
a
scientific
tool
that
allowed
audiences
to

bear
witness
to
previously
invisible
and
yet
entirely
natural
zoological
and
botanical

events.

And
Ott,
who
as
a
teenager
had
re‐invented
time‐lapse
photography
in
order

to
pursue
his
curiosity
about
the
exact
moment
when
the
buds
on
his
family's
apple

tree
would
open,
further
refined
the
technique
for
use
in
the
precision
study
of

8
effects
of
different
wave
lengths
of
light
on
the
process
of
photosynthesis. 
In
the

early
days
of
television,
Ott
even
became
a
"personality"
regularly
appearing
(in
the

same
way
that
zookeepers
do
today)
on
such
shows
as
"Today,"
"The
Home
Show,"

"Out
on
the
Farm"
to
show
his
most
recent
time‐lapse
films,
many
of
which
had
been

created
on
commission
as
advertisements.
His
time‐lapse
films
of
plant
growth—one

of
the
most
famous
was
of
a
pumpkin's
gestation—were
a
special
feature
of
Disney's

Secrets
of
Life
series.
Ott's
"show
stopper"
was
usually
his
film
of
blossoming

primroses,
in
which
the
flowers
appear
to
dance—an
effect
created
through
the
use

of
special,
synchronized
lighting
and
rotation
of
the
plants
to
emphasize
their

natural
phototropism—a
film
that
lasts
only
two
minutes
but
which
took
five
years
to


8
For
an
account
of
Ott’s
achievements,
see
Thompkin’s
and
Bird’s
The
Secret
Life
of
Plants
(203‐205,
207)

and
his
own
My
Ivory
Cellar.

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
18


complete
(Ott
23,
43).
In
the
1970s,
N.A.S.A.
used
Ott's
film
in
planning
horticulture

for
the
first
space
station.

Beginning
in
the
1960s
the
"wizards
of
odd"
at
Oxford
Scientific
Films—a

private
company
founded
original
by
university
scientists—have
continued
to
perfect

9
time‐lapse
technology
to
a
degree
a
Pfeffer
or
Marey
could
not
have
dreamed. 
In

their
innovative
attempts
to
photograph
what
co‐founder
Sean
Morris
has
called—
echoing
the
metaphor
of
Colette—the
"fairy
tale
land"
of
time‐lapse
photography,

they
have
expanded
our
20th
century
consciousness
of
the
world's
tempos
by

enabling
us
to
perceive,
through
their
photographic
"alchemy,"
such
events
and

processes
as
(a
partial
list
merely):


a) the
unforgettable
decimation
of
a
mouse's
corpse,
consumed
with

telescoped,
disgustingly
vivid
rapidity
by
swarming
blow‐fly
maggots
—an

event
of
several
days
duration,
captured
in
a
film
which
lasts
less
than
a

minute;

b) the
development
of
a
bird
embryo;

c) a
year's
movement
in
the
Grindewald
Glacier;

d) cell
division
in
a
rabbit
egg;

e) the
swarming
life
in
a
pile
of
elephant
dung;

f) sand
dollars
bedding
themselves
into
the
sea
bottom;

g) the
comings
and
going
of
sea
creatures
like
limpets,
which
ordinarily

appear
entirely
stationary;

h) the
slow
progress
of
a
watch's
inner
workings;

i) the
expansion
of
microscopic
yeast
cells.


In
a
time‐lapse
astronomical
photograph
(48
exposures
on
a
single
frame
of

film)
which
won
several
major
awards
and
has
been
reproduced
world‐wide
over
ten

millions
times,
Dennis
de
Cicco
captured
the
figure
eight—commonly
known
as
an

"analemma"—traced
by
the
sun
in
the
sky
over
the
course
of
a
single
year:
February

1978
to
February
1979.
(See
Darius
178‐79.)

And,
using
time‐lapse,
photographer
Ted
Spagna
has
completed
ten
years

worth
of
"sleep
portraits":
scientifically
valuable
records
of
the
sleep
behavior
of


9
Here
and
throughout
I
have
drawn
on
the
typescript
of
a
1980
Nova
episode
broadcast
on
PBS
entitled

“Moving
Still,”
a
documentary
history
of
photographic
techniques
used
in
capturing
“behavior
and
processes
too
slow

or
too
fast
for
the
human
eye
to
perceive.”
Unless
otherwise
noted,
references
to
the
history
of
time‐lapse

photography
in
these
pages
are
drawn
from
this
pamplet,
published
by
WGBH,
Boston,
MA.

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
19


men
and
women—individuals,
couples,
parents
with
babies—and
zoo
animals—
gorillas,
flamingos,
bears.
(His
future
plans,
he
claims,
include
portraits
of

schizophrenics,
sleepwalkers,
whales,
and
astronauts.)
In
the
late
1980s,
Spagna's

work,
exhibited
in
galleries,
even
came
to
attract
the
attention
of
the
art
world
as

well.


Contemplating
(in
Pilgrim
at
Tinker
Creek)
a
17th
century
thought
experiment
in

which
a
mirror
shot
into
space,
traveling
at
the
speed
of
light,
would
allow
us
to

"watch
all
of
the
earth's
previous
history
unfolding
as
on
a
movie
screen,"
Annie

Dillard
thinks
of
time‐lapse
photography.


Those
people
who
shoot
endless
time‐lapse
films
of
unfurling
roses
and
tulips

have
the
wrong
idea.
They
should
train
their
cameras
instead
on
the
melting

of
pack
ice,
the
green
filling
of
ponds,
the
tidal
swing
of
the
Severn
Bore.

They
film
the
glaciers
of
Greenland,
some
of
which
creak
along
at
such
a
fast

clip
that
even
the
dogs
bark
at
them.
They
should
film
the
invasion
of
the

southernmost
Canadian
tundra
by
the
northernmost
spruce‐fir‐forest,
which
is

happening
right
now
at
the
rate
of
a
mile
every
ten
years.
When
the
last
ice

sheet
receded
from
the
North
American
continent,
the
earth
rebounded
ten

feet.
Wouldn't
that
have
been
a
sight
to
see?
(145).


Time‐lapse
practitioners
have
not
yet
completed
all
of
Dillard's
agenda,
but
they

have
hardly
limited
themselves
to
roses
and
tulips.
They
have
already
fulfilled

Dillard's
request
for
a
glacier
portrait,
and
in
the
last
year
alone,
we
have
been
able

to
watch
a
time‐lapse
film
of
the
Earth's
rotation
shot
from
space.


P ra c tic e 


Despite
Walter
Benjamin's
fond
hope
that
in
the
art
of
film
a
new
unity
of
art
and

10
science
might
be
engineered, 
time‐lapse
photography
has
remained
to
date


10
”Evidently
a
different
nature
opens
itself
to
the
camera
than
opens
to
the
naked
eye,”
Benjamin
writes.

offering
us
an
“unconsciously
penetrated
space”
in
substitution
for
“a
space
consciously
explored
by
man,”
the

movies
introduce
us—by
means
of
the
camera’s
“lowerings
and
liftings,
its
extensions
and
accelerations,
its

enlargements
and
reductions”—”to
unconscious
optics
as
does
psychoanalysis
to
unconscious
impulses”
(236‐37).

Time‐lapse
vision,
it
would
seem,
is
a
hidden
power
of
our
own
“unconscious
optics,”
a
power
released
through

poetic
imagination
and
recreated
by
the
technique
of
time‐lapse
photography.

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
20


essentially
a
scientific
tool,
putting
in
only
an
occasional
appearance
in
films
for

theatrical
release.
Jean
Renoir's
The
Little
Match
Girl
(1928),
with
its
time‐lapse

footage
of
flowers
in
bloom,
was
one
of
the
first
to
demonstrate
(as
Arnheim
noted

at
the
time)
"that
such
a
device
is
usable
for
the
artist"
(116).
But
the
response
was

hardly
overwhelming
and
time‐lapse
was
rarely
used.

In
his
Le
Tempestaire
(1947),
director
Epstein
employed
time‐lapse
to
show

clouds
moving
at
a
magician's
command.

The
Swedish
documentarist
Arne
Sucksdorff
(1917‐19xx),
in
The
Open
Road

(1948),
juxtaposed
shots
of
gypsy
dancers
with
time‐lapse
close‐ups
of
blooming

flowers.

In
his
widely‐praised
Farrebique
(1948)
the
French
filmmaker
Georges

Rouquier
(1909‐19xx)—a
disciple
of
the
American
pioneer
of
cinema
verite
Robert

Flaherty—lyrically
portrayed
the
seasonal
round
of
a
French
farm
family,
counter‐
pointed
with
images
and
scenes
from
nature
captured
in
microphotography,
slow

motion,
and
especially
time‐lapse.

George
Pal's
science
fiction
film
The
Time
Machine
(1960)
employed
time‐
lapse
as
a
special
effect
in
its
depiction
of
a
journey
into
the
future.
As
the
Time

Traveler
leaves
his
London
home
on
the
eve
of
the
20th
Century
on
his
way
to
the

year
802,701,
we
witness
the
rapid
passage
of
clouds
overhead
and
the
accelerated

transformation
of
day
into
night
among
the
signs
of
the
progress
of
time.

Contemporary
avant‐garde
filmmakers,
not
surprisingly,
have
sometimes

implemented
time‐lapse
techniques.
Andy
Warhol's
Empire
(1964,
for
example,

telescopes
the
passing
of
day
into
night
in
an
eight
hour
filmic
record
of
the
Empire

State
Building
shot
from
a
single,
stationary
camera.
(According
to
Gregory
Battock,

Warhol
speeded
up
the
action
at
this
point
in
his
documentary,
despite
the
film's

overall
commitment
to
distorting
time
by
not
distorting
it
in
expected
ways,
so
that

"the
major
'event'
in
the
film"
could
be
"summarily
disposed
of
in
order
to
clear
the

way
for
the
timeless
'real'
time
of
the
unchanging
image
of
the
building."
[236])
And

Michael
Snow's
Wavelength
(1967),
a
forty
five
minute
long
excruciatingly
gradual

zoom
journey
across
a
studio
loft,
utilizes
time‐lapse
to
reveal
the
passage
of
time
in

a
film
designed
to
demonstrate
that
"motion
is
the
only
phenomenon
that
allows

perception
of
time"
(Youngblood
122).

Fred
G.
Sullivan's
whimsical,
independently
produced
autobiography,
The

Beerdrinker's
Guide
to
Fitness
and
Filmmaking
(1989)
employs
a
time‐lapse
camera

with
humorous
intent
to
capture
twenty
four
hours—"One
Day
in
the
Magical

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
21


Years"—of
the
director's
family's
hectic
life,
its
frenetic
to‐ings
and
fro‐ings,
from
a

stationary
position
across
the
street
from
their
Saranac
Lake,
New
York
"bungalow."

Time‐lapse
has
even
had
a
cameo
role
to
play
in
mainstream
Hollywood
fare.

The
opening
credit
sequence
of
On
a
Clear
Day
You
Can
Say
Forever
(1970)
is

comprised
of
stunning
time‐lapse
shots
of
blossoming
flowers
—created
especially

for
the
film
by
none
other
than
the
time‐lapse
pioneer
John
Ott.
At
the
end
of
John

Badham's
Saturday
Night
Fever
(1977),
a
time‐lapse
shot
of
clouds
moving
rapidly

over
the
New
York
City
skyline
is
used
at
the
movie's
close
to
counterpoint
Tony

Manero's
(John
Travolta)
dark
night
of
the
soul
after
the
accidental
death
of
his

friend.
In
Philip
Kaufman's
Invasion
of
the
Body
Snatchers
(1978)
time‐lapse
is
used

with
menacing
effect—again
in
the
credit
sequence—to
show
spores
from
outer

space
gestating
into
parasitic
flowers
essential
to
the
invaders'
plot
to
conquer
the

earth.
And
in
Steven
Spielberg's
E.T.,
the
top
grossing
film
in
the
history
of
the

movies,
a
dead
flower
is
brought
back
to
vibrant
life
in
time‐lapse
by
an
extra‐
terrestrial's
magical
powers.
More
recently,
the
credit
sequence
of
Brian
De
Palma's

Bonfire
of
the
Vanities
(1990)
used
a
Robert
Greenberg
designed
time‐lapse,
morning

to
night,
panorama
of
New
York,
with
the
Chrysler
building's
famous
gargoyles
screen

center,
as
its
credit
sequence/establishing
shot.


Time‐Lapse
in
Koyaanisqatsi.
Certainly
time‐lapse's
most
prominent
contemporary

film
role—at
least
"best
supporting"
if
not
"leading"—is
in
Koyaanisqatsi
(1983).
A

wordless
documentary
film,
sometimes
described
as
a
cinematic
tone‐poem,

Koyaanisqatsi
is
the
collaborative
creation
of
Godfrey
Reggio,
a
former
Catholic

monk
(once
a
member
of
the
Christian
Brotherhood),
cinematographer
Ron
Fricke,

and
minimalist
composer
Philip
Glass.
Originally
Reggio's
brainchild,
the
film
was

twenty
years
in
the
making
and
finally
saw
the
light
of
day
only
after
Francis
Ford

Coppola
lent
it
his
financial
support.
Since
its
release
it
has
gone
on
to
attain
cult

status
and
Reggio
has
continued
work
on
a
trilogy
of
documentaries
about
the

modern
world.

The
film's
title
comes
from
the
language
of
the
Hopi
Indians
of
the
American

Southwest,
perhaps
the
most
visionary
of
all
Native
American
tribes,
whose
ancient

prophecies
foresaw
the
coming
of
the
United
States,
the
creation
of
space
stations,

and
the
eventual
death
of
white
civilization.
As
we
are
informed
at
the
movie's
close,

Koyaanisqatsi
means:


The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
22


1.
crazy
life,
2.
life
in
turmoil,
3.
life
out
of
balance,
4.
life
disintegrating,
5.
a

state
of
life
that
calls
for
another
way
of
living.


And
the
film
is
best
understood
as
an
extended
description
of
this
insanity.

"According
to
one
Hindu
legend,"
The
Romanian
essayist
E.
M.
Cioran
has
written,

"Shiva,
at
a
particular
moment,
will
begin
to
dance,
at
first
slowly,
then
faster
and

faster,
and
will
not
stop
before
having
imposed
upon
the
world
a
frenzied
cadence,

in
every
respect
opposed
to
that
of
Creation."
"This
legend,"
Cioran
notes,
"includes

no
commentary,
history
having
assumed
the
task
of
illustrating
its
obvious
truth."

This
dance
is
Koyaanisqatsi's
subject.

Koyaanisqatsi
has
been
criticized
as
hypocritical.
The
film's
"double
vanity,"

as
one
commentator
puts
it,
is
"that
it
partakes
of
the
very
hysteria
it
decries."

Another
has
complained
that
though
"it
may
invoke
the
spirit
of
Hopi
belief,
.
.
.
it's

as
much
a
contemporary
artifact
as
a
video
game."
Reggio
has
defended
himself

against
the
charge
by
insisting
that
he
deliberately
chose
to
avoid
the
ugly
in
his

depiction
of
our
"crazy
life."
As
David
Sterritt
has
noted,
summarizing
Reggio's

justification,
"In
the
Bible
and
elsewhere,
.
.
.
the
message
is
plain:
The
most

dangerous
tendencies
in
modern
life
may
seem
to
be
the
most
seductive."
The
film's

primary
objective
was
thus
to
depict
"'the
beauty
of
the
beast'";
to
convince
us
that

"what
we
consider
our
crowning
jewels—our
technologies
and
machines—may
be
the

very
things
that
cause
all
our
difficulties."
The
oblivion
of
Being,
after
all,
is
itself

terribly
seductive.

In
the
"fascinating
images"
of
the
opening
sequence
of
Koyaanisqatsi,
the
eye

of
the
camera
opens
on
an
Earth
without
man.
Although
as
viewers
we
are
aware
of

the
artifice—conscious
of
the
helicopter
in
which
the
camera
rides,
of
the
use
of

slow
motion
and
time‐lapse
photography,
and
the
special
filters—still
the
images—of

clouds,
caves,
light,
flowing
water,
steam,
sand,
and
geological
wonders—haunt
us,

we
who
have
convinced
ourselves
in
the
modern
age
that
the
world
would
be
devoid

of
all
quality
if
it
were
not
for
man's
consciousness,
by
their
seeming
lack
of
a
human

presence.
They
offer
us
the
opportunity
to
imagine
the
Earth
as
it
might
have
been

before
we
emerged
from
it,
or
after
we
have
been
extinquished,
or
departed.

If,
as
Lewis
Thomas's
conception
of
the
Earth
as
a
single
cell
and
Lovelock's

"Gaia
hypothesis"
suggest,
the
Earth
itself
is
a
kind
of
giant
organism,
with
its
own

metabolism,
respiration,
and
atmosphere,
Koyaanisqatsi's
first
sequence
offers
us
a

portrait
of
this
being
in
all
its
wonders.

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
23


A
geo‐logic,
not
a
human
logos,
governs
this
world.
We
see
a
river
(the

Colorado)
meander
through
a
chasm
(the
Grand
Canyon)
which
it
has
itself
cut.
We

explore
a
deep
cave
out
of
which
birds
and
bats
move
at
random.
We
watch
the
sun

glisten
across
the
waves
of
the
ocean.
We
witness
cloud
banks
mounting
up
in
such

density
and
turbulence
that
the
very
sky
seems
an
ungovernable
ocean.
We
peer

down
over
a
waterfall
as
it
plummets
to
the
depths
below.
We
are
present
as
night

and
day
in
quick
succession
move
rapidly—captured
in
time‐lapse
photography—
across
the
face
of
an
immense
cliff.
Mesmerized,
we
look
on
as
sand
undulates
in

timeless
patterning.
And
none
of
these
comings
and
goings,
toings
and
froings
—the

"sensitive
chaos,"
as
Theodore
Schwenk
has
described
it—of
the
being
called
Gaia

need
us
in
the
least
for
their
enactment;
none
take
place
in
a
time
we
would

recognize
as
human.
This
is
phusis
we
watch,
not
nature.

But
beginning
with
images
of
explosions
and
then,
in
rapid
montage,
shots
of

an
earth
mover,
a
long
pipeline,
electric
lines,
a
power
station,
a
huge
dam,
an

immense
crane,
oil
rigs,
a
tank
farm,
a
mushroom
cloud,
and,
finally,
women
and

children
sunbathing
in
the
shadow
of
a
nuclear
power
plant,
Koyaanisqatsi
moves

abruptly
into
the
realm
of
the
stored‐away.
The
remainder
of
the
film
memorably

portrays
this
new
"setting
to
order"
of
things.

If
Koyaanisqatsi's
first
sequence
captures
a
world
without
man,
the

remainder—especially
a
key
central
sequence
known
on
the
Glass
soundtrack
as
"The

Grid"—depicts
a
world
filled
to
overflowing
with
men
and
their
things,
a
modern
city

world.
Exploding
buildings;
the
South
Bronx
in
decay;
immense
glass
skyscrapers
that

mirror
the
sky
above;
boulevards,
malls,
bowling
alleys
overrun
with
human
beings;

impossible
intersections,
criss‐crossed
by
thousands
and
thousands
of
cars
and

people
choreographed
by
some
invisible
hand;
interlocking
freeways
which,
shot

from
above
and
in
time‐lapse
photography,
appear
to
be
some
kind
of
circulatory

system
for
the
city;
human
beings
by
the
thousands
crossing
Grand
Central
Station

and
entering
and
exiting
escalators
with
the
determination
of
ants,
and
hot
dogs,

automobiles,
TVs,
computers,
jeans,
and
Twinkies
in
counter‐pointed,
match‐cut

mass
production.
The
world
of
Koyaanisqatsi
is
clearly
one
in
which
"all
that
is
solid

melts
into
air."

Near
the
end
of
Koyaanisqatsi,
as
a
transition
to
its
last
somber
sequence,
we

find
ourselves,
after
a
jump
cut,
looking
down
upon
a
city
from
above.
Experienced

air
travelers
immediately
recognize
the
image.
In
another
cut,
the
camera
moves
to

an
even
higher
altitude,
and
it
takes
the
viewer
but
a
moment
to
discern
exactly

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
24


what
he
or
she
is
seeing.
The
world
of
urban
sprawl,
eight‐lane
highways,
grid‐lock,

and
skyscrapers
to
which
the
early
scenes
had
so
accustomed
us
becomes

momentarily
disorienting,
seen
from
this
high
perspective,
but
some
recognizable

forms
are
still
apparent:
highways,
bodies
of
water,
parks,
stadia.
But
then,
in
fairly

rapid
montage
(a
total
of
over
a
dozen
shots),
this
extreme
aerial
long
shot
view
is

match‐cut
with
extreme
close‐ups
of
what
appear
to
be
computer
circuit
boards
and

the
intricate
weave
of
Hopi
Indian
blankets.

This
montage
brings
to
a
culmination
a
theme
that
has
run
throughout.
For

much
of
the
film,
we
have
looked
down
upon
the
world.
In
the
early
natural
scenes,

such
a
point
of
view
had
expanded
our
vision
of
the
immensity
of
the
world,
of
its

geological
and
meteorological
sweep.
But
in
these
aerial
views
of
cityscapes,
the

effect
is
to
offer
us
an
Archimedean
perspective
on
human
affairs,
a
perspective

which,
as
Arendt
foresaw,
actually
belittles
human
achievement.
For
as
Arendt
writes

in
"The
Conquest
of
Space
and
the
Stature
of
Man,"


If
we
look
down
from
this
point
[of
Einstein's
"observer
freely
poised
in

space"]
at
what
is
going
on
Earth
and
upon
the
various
activities
of
men,
that

is,
if
we
apply
the
Archimedean
point
to
ourselves,
then
these
activities
will

indeed
appear
to
ourselves
as
no
more
than
"overt
behavior,"
which
we
can

study
with
the
same
methods
we
use
to
study
the
behavior
of
rats.


"Seen
from
a
sufficient
distance,"
Arendt
writes,
"the
cars
in
which
we
travel
and

which
we
know
we
built
ourselves
.
.
.
look
as
though
they
were,
as
Heisenberg
once

put
it,
'as
inescapable
a
part
of
ourselves
as
the
snail's
shell
is
to
its
occupant.'"

Consequently,
Arendt
insists,
"the
overview
effect"
decreases
human
stature:

"All
our
pride
in
what
we
can
do
.
.
.
disappears
into
some
kind
of
mutation
of
the

human
race;
the
whole
of
technology,
seen
from
this
point,
in
fact
no
longer
appears

as
the
result
of
a
conscious
human
effort
to
extend
man's
material
power,
but
rather

as
a
large‐scale
biological
process."
From
such
a
perspective,
simulation
seems

inevitable,
seems
almost
to
be
God's
will.
(From
such
a
perspective,
it
is
possible
for

Freeman
Dyson
to
hallucinate
today's
purely
technological
spacecraft
transformed,

less
than
three
decades
hence,
into
a
living
creature
able
to
explore
the
cosmos.
"It

is
reasonable
to
think
of
the
micro‐spacecraft
of
the
year
2010,"
Dyson
claims
in
his

Gifford
Lectures
[Infinite
in
All
Directions],
"not
as
a
structure
of
metal
and
glass
and

silicon,
but
as
a
living
creature,
fed
on
Earth
like
a
caterpillar,
launched
into
space

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
25


like
a
chrysalis,
riding
a
laser
beam
into
orbit,
and
metamorphosing
in
space
like
a

butterfly.")

Much
of
Koyaanisqatsi
is
shot
from
the
Archimedean
point.
As
we
watch
the

transformation
of
rivers
into
pipelines,
sheer
cliffs
into
skyscrapers,
river
canyons

into
the
valley
boulevards
between
New
York's
mammoth
buildings,
superhighways

into
the
circulatory
system
of
the
megalopolis,
and
Indian
blankets
become
cities,

become
circuit
boards,
we
recognize
that
we
are
witness
to
an
quantum

metamorphosis
in
the
conception
of
human
destiny
enacted
by
the
adoption
of
an

Archimedean
perspective.

But
in
the
end
the
film
does
not
sanction
the
Archmidean
perspective.
Its

closing
shot
is
of
a
missile
launch,
the
same
missile
we
had
witnessed
during
the

film's
title
sequence
as
it
slowly
lifted
off
from
its
pad.
As
it
soars
skyward,
it

explodes
in
mid‐air,
and
for
over
two
minutes
we
watch
a
large
piece
of
its
hull
fall

slowly,
slowly
back
to
Earth
before
the
final
credits
remind
us
of
the
Hopi
prophecy

of
White
civilization's
inevitable
collapse.


Time‐lapse
photography
was
the
product
of
what
intellectual
historian
Stephen
Kern

has
called
"the
culture
of
space
and
time."
"From
around
1880
to
the
outbreak
of

World
War
I,"
Kern
shows,


a
series
of
sweeping
changes
in
technology
and
culture
created
distinctive

new
modes
of
thinking
about
and
experiencing
time
and
space.
Technological

innovations
including
the
telephone,
wireless
telegraph,
x‐ray,
cinema,

bicycle,
automobile,
and
airplane
established
the
material
foundation
for

reorientation;
independent
cultural
developments
such
as
the
stream‐of‐
consciousness
novel,
psychoanalysis,
Cubism,
and
theory
of
relativity
shaped

consciousness
directly.
The
result
was
a
transformation
of
the
dimensions
of

life
and
thought.
(2)


As
a
prime
agent
of
the
"culture
of
space
and
time,"
motion
pictures,
Kern
observes,

"thickened
the
present."
"Any
moment
could
be
pried
open
and
expanded
at
will,

giving
the
audience
seemingly
at
once
a
vision
of
the
motives
for
an
actions,
its

appearance
from
any
number
of
perspectives,
and
a
multitude
of
responses.
A
man
is

shot
in
an
instant,
but
moviegoers
saw
the
event
prolonged
and
analyzed
like
a

detailed
case
history.
The
present
was
thus
thickened
by
directors
who
spliced
time

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
26


as
they
cut
their
film"
(88).
Time‐lapse
photography
thickened
becoming,
made
it

visible.


T h e 
T h e o ry 
o f
T im e ‐L a p se 


The
cinema
is
an
eye
wide
open
on
life,
an
eye
more
powerful
than
our
own
and

which
sees
things
we
cannot
see.

Germaine
Dulac



The
cinema
is
substantially
and
naturally
poetic.
.
.
.
it
is
dreamlike,
because
it
is

close
to
dreams,
because
a
cinema
sequence
and
a
sequence
of
memory
or
of
a

dream—and
not
only
that
but
things
in
themselves
are
profoundly
poetic:
a
tree

photographed
is
poetic,
a
human
face
photographed
is
poetic
because
physicity
is

poetic
in
itself,
because
it
is
an
apparition,
because
it
is
full
of
mystery,
because
it
is

full
of
ambiguity,
because
it
is
full
of
polyvalent
meaning,
because
even
a
tree
is
a

sign
of
a
linguistic
system.
But
who
talks
through
a
tree?
God,
or
reality
itself.

Therefore
the
tree
as
a
sign
puts
us
in
communication
with
a
mysterious
speaker.

Therefore,
the
cinema
by
directly
reproducing
objects
physically
.
.
.
is
substantially

poetic.
This
is
one
aspect
of
the
problem,
let's
say
pre‐historic,
almost
pre‐
cinematographic.

Pier
Paolo
Pasolini


Theoreticians,
historians,
and
scholars
of
the
film
have
usually
noted—but
only

noted—the
intriguing
nature
of
time‐lapse
photography.
Had
not
Benjamin
stated

that
"To
demonstrate
the
identity
of
the
artistic
and
scientific
use
of
photography

which
heretofore
were
separated
will
be
one
of
the
revolutionary
functions
of
the

film"?
(236).
For
the
few
who
contemplated
its
meaning
at
all,
time‐lapse
seemed
to

promise
just
such
a
fusion
of
the
"two
cultures."

Convinced
that
"the
modifications
of
spatial
and
temporal
experience

provided
by
slow,
accelerated,
or
reverse
motion
will
provide
fresh
access
to
the

true,
concealed
nature
of
the
phenomenal
world"
(Michelson
xliii),
Jean
Epstein

(1897‐1953),
French
pioneer
of
the
avant‐garde,
praised
time‐lapse
as
one
means
of

preserving
the
medium's
early,
phenomenal
sense
of
wonder
against
the
stultifying

development
of
narrative
cinema.
But
a
technique
like
time‐lapse
was
for
him
as
well

the
tool
for
scientific
revelation.
"The
revisions
of
perception
and
judgment
impelled

by
that
access"
Epstein
was
convinced,
"would
confirm
scientific
discovery
and

redirect
epistemological
inquiry"
(Michelson
xliii).
Despite
"its
startling
physics
and

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
27


strange
mechanics,"
time‐lapse,
Epstein
hastened
to
remind,
should
be
understood

as
"but
a
portrait—seen
in
a
certain
perspective—of
the
world
in
which
we
live"

(quoted
by
Kracauer
53).

Writing
in
1925,
Bauhaus
designer
Laszlo
Moholy‐Nagy,
while
praising

cinema's
aptitude
for
scientific
research
into
the
metamorphosis
of
"zoological,

botanical
and
mineral
form"
and
condemning
its
lazy
utilization
for
dramatic

purposes,
spoke
most
eloquently
of
time‐lapse
as
a
wonderful
vehicle
for
the

revelation
of
character.
Imagining
a
time‐lapse
film
of
"a
man
daily
from
birth
to
his

death
in
old
age,"
he
describes
the
probable
effects
of
such
a
film:

It
would
be
most
unnerving
even
to
be
able
to
watch
only
his
face
with
the
slowly

changing
expression
of
a
long
life
and
his
growing
beard,
etc.,
all
in
five
minutes;
or

the
statesman,
the
musician,
the
poet
in
conversation
and
in
action;
.
.
.
Even
with
a

proper
understanding
of
the
material,
speed
and
breath
of
thought
do
not
suffice
to

predict
all
the
obvious
potentialities.
(36)

In
her
essay
on
"Visual
and
Anti‐Visual
Films,"
Germaine
Dulac
(1882‐1942)

contemplating
the
ability
of
film
to
"decompose"
movement,
thought
of
time‐lapse

as
a
quintessential
example.


A
grain
of
wheat
sprouts;
it
is
synthetically,
again,
that
we
judge
its
growth.

Cinema,
by
decomposing
movement,
makes
us
see,
analytically,
the
beauty
of

the
leap
in
a
series
of
minor
rhythms
which
accomplish
the
major
rhythm,

and,
if
we
look
at
the
sprouting
grain,
thanks
to
film,
we
will
no
longer
have

only
the
synthesis
of
the
moment
of
growth,
but
the
psychology
of
this

movement.
We
feel,
visually,
the
painful
effort
a
stalk
expends
in
coming
out

of
the
ground
and
blooming.
The
cinema
makes
us
spectators
of
its
bursts

toward
light
and
air,
by
capturing
its
unconscious,
instinctive
and
mechanical

movements.
(32)


And
in
"The
Essence
of
the
Cinema:
The
Visual
Idea,"
Dulac
again
returned
to
time‐
lapse
in
a
consideration
of
the
"educational
and
instructive
power"
of
film
as
a
"sort

of
microscope":


In
a
documentary,
in
a
scientific
film,
life
appears
before
us
in
its
infinite

detail,
its
evolution,
all
that
the
eye
is
normally
unable
to
follow.

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
28


Among
others,
there
is
a
slow‐motion
study
of
the
blooming
of

flowers.
Flowers,
whose
stage
of
life
appear
to
us
brutal
and
defined,
birth,

blooming,
death,
and
whose
infinitesimal
development,
whose
movements

equivalent
to
suffering
and
joy
are
unknown
to
us,
appear
before
us
in
cinema

in
the
fullness
of
their
existence


Benjamin,
in
his
"A
Brief
History
of
Photography"
(1931),
noted
that
it
is
"a

different
nature
which
speaks
to
the
camera
than
speaks
to
the
eye:
so
different
that

in
place
of
a
space
consciously
woven
together
by
a
man
on
the
spot
there
enters
a

space
held
together
unconsciously."
We
know,
or
think
we
know
how
people
walk,

but
our
common
sense
knowledge,
Benjamin
insists,
is
always
inexact,
for
"we
know

nothing
definite
of
the
positions
involved
in
the
fraction
of
a
second
when
the
step
is

taken."
Photography,
however,
offers
us
a
new
knowledge.
Through
its
"methods

[time
lapses,
enlargements,
etc.]
one
first
learns
of
[the]
optical
unconscious,
just
as

one
learns
of
the
drives
of
the
unconscious
through
psychoanalysis."
The
camera,

Benjamin
suggests,
is
in
fact
"more
closely
related"
to
concerns
with
structure,
to

the
forms
of
cells,
to
microscopic
revelations
than
its
to
"the
moody
landscape
or
the

soulful
portrait"
(202).

Rudolf
Arnheim
(xxxx‐xxxx),
in
his
seminal
study
The
Film
as
Art
(1933),

provided
a
definitive
phenomenology
of
the
viewer's
experience
of
a
time‐lapse
film

(with
I.
G.
Farben's
Miracle
of
Flowers
(xxxx)—a
film
he
judged
to
be
"certainly
the

most
fantastic,
thrilling,
and
beautiful
ever
made"—as
his
test
case):


The
swaying
rhythmic
breathing
motions
of
the
leaves,
the
excited
dance
of

the
leaves
around
the
blossom,
the
almost
voluptuous
abandon
with
which

the
flower
opens—the
plants
all
at
once
come
alive
and
show
that
they
use

expressive
gestures
like
those
to
which
we
are
accustomed
in
men
and

animals.
Watching
a
climbing
plant
anxiously
groping,
uncertainly
seeking
a

hold,
as
its
tendrils
twine
around
a
trellis,
or
a
fading
cactus
bloom
bowing
its

head
and
collapsing
almost
with
a
sigh,
was
an
uncanny
discovery
of
a
new

living
world
in
a
sphere
in
which
one
had
of
course
always
admitted
life

existed
but
had
never
been
able
to
see
it
in
action.
Plants
were
suddenly
and

visibly
enrolled
in
the
ranks
of
living
beings.
One
saw
that
the
same
principles

applied
to
everything,
the
same
code
of
behavior,
the
same
difficulties,
the

same
desires.
(115)

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
29



Remarking
on
the
ability
of
the
cinema
to
"extend
.
.
.
certain
of
our
means
of

perception
and
.
.
.
throw
out
bridges
beyond
the
impassable
zones
of
our
senses
and

our
skills,"
the
great
modernist
architect
Le
Corbusier
singles
out
scientific

documentary's
"miraculous
films
on
the
growth
of
seeds
and
plants"
as
proof
that

"nature
and
human
consciousness
are
.
.
.
two
terms
of
the
[same]
equation"
(112‐
13).

In
his
Theory
of
Film:
Growth
and
Character
of
a
New
Art
(1952),
the

Hungarian
cineaste
Bela
Balazs
noted
that
while
"only
pictures
of
nature
without

men
bear
the
convincing
stamp
of
unquestionable,
authentic
reality,"
such
films

"often
appear
fantastic."
And
"nothing
could
be
more
like
fairy
tales,"
writes
Balazs,

with
time‐lapse
photography
in
mind,
than
"the
scientific
films
which
show
the

growth
of
crystals
or
the
wars
of
infusoria
living
in
a
drop
of
water."
He
even
goes
on

to
briefly
develop
a
theoretical
explanation
of
the
uncanny
nature
of
such

cinematography.


the
farther
away
the
existence
presented
.
.
.
is
from
the
possibility
of
human

interference,
the
less
it
the
possibility
of
its
being
artificial,
faked,
stage‐
managed.
.
.
.
For
although
what
we
see
is
a
natural
phenomenon,
the
fact

that
we
can
see
it
at
all
strikes
us
as
unnatural.
.
.
.
In
watching
such
things

we
feel
as
if
we
had
entered
a
territory
closed
to
man
(172‐73)


When
a
technique
like
time‐lapse
photography
shows
us
"something
that
human

beings
cannot
see
in
normal
circumstances,"
Balazs
concludes,
suggestively,
"then,
as

we
nevertheless
see
it,
we
have
the
feeling
of
being
invisible
ourselves.
.
.
."

Siegfried
Kracauer,
in
his
Theory
of
Film
(1960),
likewise
praises
the
technique

as
contributing
to
what
he
saw
as
the
project
of
film:
"the
redemption
of
physical

reality."
"Pictures
of
stalks
piercing
the
soil
in
the
process
of
growing
up
open
up

imaginary
areas"
for
the
human
mind,
Kracauer
argues,
and
he
includes
time‐lapse
as

a
cinematic
approach
which
"lead[s]
straight
into
'reality
of
another
dimension'"
(52‐
53).

And
Stephenson
and
Debrix,
in
The
Art
of
the
Cinema
(1965),
note
that
time‐
lapse
photography
seems
especially
well
suited
to
this
age
of
Einstein,
for
it

"demonstrates
in
the
most
forceful
way
the
relativity
of
time":
"a
speeded
up

documentary
on
plant
growth
may
introduce
us
to
a
universe
whose
rate
of

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
30


movement
is
fifty
thousand
times
faster
than
the
one
we
know,
a
temporal
universe

as
incommensurable
with
solar
time
as
ultra‐microscopic
worlds
are

incommensurable
with
visible
space"
(92‐93).

Though
time‐lapse
photography
has
no
doubt
helped
to
develop
our

characteristic
modern
sense
of
time,
making
us
alert
in
new
ways
to
the
world's

varying
tempos,
ever
effecting
"profound"—if
limited—"changes
.
.
.
in
the
ancient

craft
of
the
Beautiful,"
it
has
nevertheless,
affected
its
native
medium
very
little.

Even
Arnheim,
who
had
lavished
such
praise
on
Miracle
of
Flowers,
went
on
to
admit

that
the
film
was
probably
a
"lucky
strike"
and
suggested,
quite
accurately
as
it

turned
out,
that
"Not
much
more
is
to
be
expected
in
this
line"
(115).
Time‐lapse,
in

fact,
has
never
really
been
assimilated
successfully
into
main‐stream
cinematic

language.
Why?

For
the
French
film
theorist
Edgar
Morin
"scientific"
techniques
like
time‐
lapse
lie
at
the
heart
of
all
contemporary
controversies
about
how
we
are
to
"read"

movies.
In
Le
Cinema
ou
l'homme
imaginaire
(1958)
Morin
shows
how,
in
the
words

of
J.
Dudley
Andrew
(on
whose
account
of
Morin's
book
I
have
relied
heavily),


the
cinema
began
as
an
instrument
of
popular
science,
as
a
perceptual

machine
he
calls
the
"cinematographe,"
whose
function
was
to
provide
views

of
things
formerly
unseen
or
unseeable.
Hence
the
fascination
with
slow
and

fast
motion,
with
extreme
close‐ups
and
unlimited
repetitions
giving
our
eyes

access
to
the
world
of
nature.
(Concept
22)


But
almost
simultaneously
the
movies
became
an
entertainment
industry
"catering
to

a
voracious
public
appetite
for
'curiosities,'"
and,
in
the
hands
of
filmmakers
like

Melies,
the
semiosis
of
the
movies
was
rapidly
transformed:
"the
cinematographe

quickly
became
that
phantasmagoric
language
we
know
as
the
cinema."
The
"tension

between
perception
and
signification"
which
still
lies
at
the
heart
of
our
experience

of
film
began.
But
in
the
process,
the
cinematographe's
capacities
for
revelation

have
been
largely
forgotten.


T h e 
M a n 
W h o 
S a w 
T h ro u g h 
T im e :
L o re n 
E ise le y ’s
T im e ‐L a p se 
V isio n 


We
can
make
fast‐motion
films
of
the
growth
of
plants
and
flowers
in
which
they

seem
to
come
and
go
like
gestures
of
the
earth.
If
we
could
film
civilizations
and

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
31


cities,
mountains
and
stars,
in
the
same
way,
we
would
seem
them
as
frost
crystals

forming
and
dissolving
and
as
sparks
on
the
back
of
a
fireplace.
The
faster
the

tempo,
the
more
it
would
appear
that
we
were
watching,
not
so
much
a
succession

of
things,
as
the
movement
and
transformation
of
one
thing—as
we
see
waves
on
the

ocean
or
the
movements
of
a
dancer.

Alan
Watts,
Tao:
The
Watercourse
Way
(94)


In
an
intriguing
B‐movie
of
the
1950's,
The
Man
With
the
X‐Ray
Eyes,
an
individual

becomes
miraculously
able,
due
to
a
freak
accident,
to
perceive
behind
the
visible;

his
vision
penetrates
through
mere
appearances
and
probes
at
the
very
heart
of

things.
Where
others
see
flesh,
he
sees
internal
organs.
Where
others
see
a
finished

city,
he
sees
through
its
walls
to
the
girders
and
beams
and
rivets
which
uphold
its

seeming
solidity.
Where
others
merely
gaze
in
wonder
at
the
night
sky
full
of
stars,

his
vision,
knowing
no
limits,
reaches
to
the
heart
of
the
universe
and
beholds
the

mysteries
of
the
cosmos.
His
"gift"
turns
him
into
a
near
mystic,
but
the
perspective

on
reality
which
it
offers
to
him
becomes,
in
time,
a
curse.
For
the
world
as
it
is

revealed
to
him
is
too
much
for
one
man:
he
feels
himself
lost
in
the
unfathomable

immensity
of
space—a
sci‐fi
Pascal
who
has
come
to
know
the
terror
inherent
in
the

silence
of
the
infinite—and
by
the
movie's
close
he
has
been
driven
to
the
edge
of

madness.

Like
the
"man
with
the
x‐ray
eyes,"
Loren
Eiseley
likewise
seemed
to
see

behind
the
visible,
and
like
that
film's
hero,
his
powers
caused
him
torment,
but
to

Eiseley's
x‐ray
eyes,
it
was
time,
not
space,
which
appeared
illusory.
"My
sense
of

time,"
he
explained,
"is
so
heightened
that
I
can
feel
the
first
frost
at
work
in
stones,

11
the
first
creeping
advance
of
grass
in
a
deserted
street
(NC
158). 
Eiseley
once

claimed
to
have
known
a
distinguished
(but
unnamed)
20th
century
physicist
who

took
his
discipline's
conception
of
the
nature
of
ultimate
reality
so
seriously
that
he

began
wearing
oversized
rubber
boots
in
the
hope
they
would
somehow
keep
him

from
falling
through
the
interstices
in
things
into
the
inner
"quantum"
space
of

matter
(ST
280).
Eiseley
took
the
discoveries
of
modern
biology
and
anthropology

with
equal
literalness,
and
his
frequent
sense
of
vertigo
before
the
phenomenal

world
stemmed,
it
would
seem,
from
the
dizzying
prospect
on
physical
reality
offered


11
Eiseley
may
have
acquired
this
sensitivity
to
time,
in
part
at
least,
from
his
study
of
the
eighteenth
century

Scottish
geologist
James
Hutton,
one
of
the
major
proponents
of
“uniformatarianism”
compare
the
following

description
of
Hutton’s
world
view
to
the
above
quotation
from
Eiseley:
“Hutton’s
perception
of
the
minute
processes

of
decay
is
as
keen
as
his
eye
for
the
movements
of
continental
upheavel.
So
preternaturally
acute
was
his
sense
of

time
that
he
could
foretell
in
a
running
stream
the
final
doom
of
a
continent
.
.
.
(DC
72‐73).

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
32


him
by
evolutionary
time.
As
the
result
of
his
unceasing
exploration
and

unquenchable,
Faustian
pursuit
of
ultimate
knowledge,
modern
man,
Eiseley
feared,

has
finally
"intruded,"
with
the
discovery
of
the
true
immensity
of
time,
"upon
some

gigantic
stage
not
devised
for
him"
(IP
12).
The
drama
of
Loren
Eiseley's
intellectual

life,
however,
was
enacted
on
that
stage.

"One
exists,"
Eiseley
explains,
"in
a
universe
convincingly
real,
where
the

lines
are
sharply
drawn
in
black
and
white.
It
is
only
later,
if
at
all,
that
one
realizes

the
lines
were
never
there
in
the
first
place.
But
they
are
necessary
in
every
human

culture,
like
a
drill
sergeant’s
commands,
something
not
to
be
questioned"
(ASH

100).
Yet
questions
remain,
foremost
among
them,
two
interrelated
ones:
"How

should
we
see?
In
what
world
are
we?"
These
doubts
constituted
for
Eiseley
"the

very
terror
of
our
age,"
for
"we
have
fallen
out
of
nature
and
see
sometimes
more

and
sometimes
less"
(ST
249).
Eiseley
saw
more;
he
possessed
a
visionary

"archaeological
eye"
(FT
168)
through
which
he
witnessed
everyday
reality
with

"terrible
deja
vu
of
the
archaeologist"
(NC
156):


a
man
who
has
once
looked
with
the
archaeological
eye
will
never
see
quite

normally.
he
will
be
wounded
by
what
other
men
call
trifles.
It
is
possible
to

refine
the
sense
of
time
until
an
old
shoe
in
the
bunch
grass
or
a
pile
of

nineteenth‐century
beer
bottles
in
an
abandoned
mining
town
tolls
in
one's

head
like
a
hall
clock.
This
is
the
price
one
pays
for
learning
to
read
time
from

surfacces
other
than
an
illuminated
dial.
it
is
the
melancholy
secret
of
the

artifact,
the
humanly
touched
thing.
(NC
81)


The
effects
of
Eiseley’s
vision
are
thus
double‐edged.
Although
his
archaeological
eye

is
a
medium
of
potential
revelation
capable
of
overpowering
the
attraction
of
the

archaiological,
and
the
very
means
by
which
to
acquire
the
evolutionary
sense,
it
is

also
the
wellspring
of
his
Mark
of
Cain
in
its
phylogenic
aspect;
for
it
provides
a

profoundly
sobering
perspective
on
human
and
personal
destiny—one
to
which

neither
he
nor
the
species
has
yet
become
accustomed—in
which
all
of
man’s
longing

appears
to
be
for
nothing
and
all
hopes
of
establishing
faith
in
the
distance
seems

futile.

Because
the
archaeologist
uncovers
as
remnants
of
the
vanished
civilizations

"both
our
grocery
bills
and
the
hymns
to
our
gods"
(UU
29),
he
looks
on
with
an

acute
skepticism
at
human
endeavors,
knowing
that
all
projects,
whatever
their

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
33


momentary
efficacy,
will
one
day
become
merely
fodder
for
the
investigation
of

future
archaeologists.
All
of
mankind's
good
and
all
of
our
evil,
the
archaeologist

knows,
finally
amount
to
nothing;
for
they
are
all
swallowed
up
by
time
again
and

again
in
"terrible
deja
vu."
As
a
result
of
his
archeological
eye,
therefore,
Eiseley

seems
to
always
hear,
like
the
nomadic
people
of
Old
Testament
times,
behind
all

ordinary
occurrences
that
“voice
howling
over
the
mounds
of
dead
and
vanished

civilizations”
that
they
called
“Lillith—Adam’s
first
wife
and
a
scoffer
at
all
male

vanities
(Thompson,
Darkness
and
Scattered
Light
46).
In
a
poem
entitled

"Confrontation,"
Eiseley
explains
that
as
a
teacher
and
leader
of
men,
he
"had
no

followers/but
the
wind
that
fills
abandoned
cities
with
dust
.
.
.
(NA
98).
He
found
it

not
at
all
unusual
to
"in
some
unwary
instant
.
.
.
telescope
fifty
thousand
years,"

but
often
his
archaeological
eye
saw
but
a
short
distance
into
the
past,
"looking

through
a
little
window
in
time
.
.
."
(NC
85),
as
in
this
instance
recorded
in
All
the

Strange
Hours
(150):


Man
is
a
strange
creature.
I
look
upon
this
great
building
with
its
inner

fountains
and
amenities
and
though
it
is
well
over
ten
years
since
it
was

constructed,
I
see
right
through
it
to
the
bare
field
left
by
the
demolition
of

the
slum.


It
is
essential
to
understand
that
Eiseley
does
not
mean
here
that
he
remembered
the

vacant
lot.
He
insisted
that
he
saw
it,
as
if
he
were,
like
Sir
Francis
Bacon
in
the

ambiguous
title
of
his
book
on
him,
a
"man
who
saw
through
time."
Through
the

power
of
his
archaeological
eye,
the
"long
centuries
wavering
past"
are
never

entirely
lost.
For
to
his
vision
they
still
retain
a
sense
of
presence,
"with
the
curious

distortion
of
things
seen
through
deep
sea
water"
(NC
154).
As
the
epigraph
of
his

first
published
book,
The
Immense
Journey,
Eiseley
had
quoted
the
words
of
Henry

David
Thoreau:
"Man
can
not
afford
to
be
a
naturalist,
too
look
at
Nature
directly,

but
only
with
the
side
of
his
eye.
He
must
look
through
and
beyond
her"
(2).
Eiseley's

archaeological
eye
made
it
possible
for
him
to
heed
Thoreau's
admonition.

Bacon,
a
man
Eiseley
admired
above
all
others,
once
noted
that
"He
that

cannot
contract
the
sight
of
the
mind
as
well
as
disperse
and
dilate
it,
wanteth
a

great
faculty"
(TMWSTT
76‐77).
Able
to
contract
and
dilate
his
vision
and

understanding
to
an
extraordinary
degree,
Eiseley
possessed
as
a
result
an

instrument
whose
unique
power
enabled
him
to
"see"
with
an
almost
mystical
clarity

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
34


the
interconnectedness
of
man,
consciousness,
and
history
with
cosmic,
geological,

and
biological
evolution.
"That
which
exceeds
a
single
life
span,"
customarily
only

available
to
man
in
the
eye
of
collective
memory,
became
for
Eiseley
an
ordinary

object
of
his
vision.

Even
as
a
child,
Eiseley
insists,
he
had
already
learned
the
ultimate
lesson

which
the
study
of
time
could
teach:
that
time
is
in
reality
"a
series
of
planes
existed

superficially
in
the
same
universe,"
that
the
tempo
which
we
perceive
"is
a
human

illusion,
a
subjective
clock
ticking
in
our
own
kind
of
protoplasm"
(IJ
183).
But

experience,
and
his
knowledge
of
evolution,
taught
him
as
his
mind
matured
that

although
man
is,
in
a
sense,
only
one
"subjective
clock,"
one
moment,
among
many,

"he
is
the
most
curious
of
all;
he
fits
no
plane,
no
visible
island"
(UU
161).
For
in

man
all
the
planes
interpenetrate;
he
dwells
in
the
momentous;
that
he
does
so
is

part
of
his
mandate
as
a
Primate
Autobiographer.

As
the
result
of
his
archaeological
eye,
Eiseley
is
like
Billy
Pilgrim
in
Kurt

Vonnegut,
Jr.'s
Slaughterhouse
Five,
a
"time
tripper."
But
while
Vonnegut's
anti‐hero

can
only
jump
back
and
forth
between
the
events
of
his
own
life
span,
Eiseley
often

found
himself
transported
out
of
the
present
moment
into
past
and
future
eons.
In

its
simplest
form,
Eiseley's
time‐tripping
merely
catapulted
him
back
into
moments

of
his
past
life
so
vividly
real
in
long‐term
memory
that
they
eclipse
the
incident

triggering
them
in
the
present.
In
“The
Rat
That
Danced”
in
All
the
Strange
Hours,
for

example,
the
flash
of
camera
lights
during
a
lecture
he
is
trying
to
deliver
becomes
a

railroad
switchlight
and
triggers
a
memory
of
a
time
during
Eiseley’s
hobo
days
in
the

1920s
when
a
security
guard
tried
to
push
him
from
moving
train.
As
a
result,
the

talk
he
intends
to
deliver
becomes
confused,
“lost
in
the
incoherence
of
a
split

personality
.
.
.
(ASH
12)—split
between
past
and
present.

The
human
mind,
Eiseley
recognizes,
is
an
unfathomable
compendium
of

experience,
memory,
and
instinctual
knowledge.
It
is
an
artist's
loft,
where
"pictures

.
.
.
hang
askew,
pictures
with
outlines
barely
chalked
in,
pictures
torn,
pictures
the

artist
has
striven
unsuccessfully
to
erase,
pictures
that
only
emerge
and
glow
in
a

certain
light."
During
Eiseley's
time‐tripping
this
light
becomes,
for
the
moment,

constant,
and
pictures
which
have
been
"teleported,
stolen,
as
it
were,
out
of
time,"

become
vivid.
It
is,
he
senses,
his
duty
as
a
writer
to
give
these
pictures
a
voice—to

"drag
them
about,
magnify
or
reduce
them
as
.
.
.
artistic
sense
dictates."
But
he

cannot
destroy
them
(ASH
151).
Their
presentation
to
his
mind
remains
random;
his

time‐tripping
is
uncontrollable:


The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
35



Make
no
mistake.
Everything
in
the
mind
is
in
rat's
country.
It
doesn't
die.

They
are
merely
carried,
these
disparate
memories,
back
and
forth
in
the

desert
of
a
billion
neurons,
set
down,
picked
up,
and
dropped
again
by
mental

pack
rats.
Nothing
perishes,
it
is
merely
lost
till
a
surgeon's
electrode
starts

the
music
of
an
old
player
piano
who
scrolls
are
dust
Or
you
yourself
do
it,

tossing
in
the
restless
night,
or
even
in
the
day
on
a
strange
street
when
a

hurdy‐gurdy
plays.
Nothing
is
lost,
but
it
can
never
be
again
as
it
was.
You
will

only
find
the
bits
and
cry
out
because
they
were
yourself.
(ASH
3).


But
among
those
"billions
of
neurons"
Eiseley
sometimes
finds
stored
pictures
that

teleport
him
far
beyond
the
few
decades
of
his
own
actual
experience
of
time.

In
"The
Crevice
and
the
Eye”
(also
in
All
the
Strange
Hours),
Eiseley
tells
of
an

archaeological
expedition
into
an
underground
cave
in
New
Mexico,
during
which

Eiseley
and
a
companion
descended
into
a
hidden
subterranean
chamber
and
nearly

became
lost
without
a
light.
But
this
journey
down
through
geological
strata
is
to

Eiseley
(as
is
a
similar
adventure
in
“The
Slit"
in
The
Immense
Journey)
really
a

journey
back
into
time,
for
as
he
emerges
from
the
mouth
of
the
cave
into
the
open

air,
he
realizes
that
his
"angle
of
vision"
has
somehow
become
twisted
underground,

and
he
finds
himself
"time‐tripping"
over
thousands
of
years,
not
decades:


I
was
looking
at
life
[Eiseley
realizes],
at
my
companions
at
the
traffic
below

on
the
road,
as
though
I
had
just
arisen,
a
frozen
man
from
a
torrent
of

melting
ice.
I
wiped
a
muddy
hand
across
my
brow.
The
hand
was
ten

thousand
years
away.
So
were
my
eyes,
so
would
they
always
be.
.
.
.
(104;
my

italics)


So
distant
does
the
present
moment
then
seem
to
him,
so
dwarfed
by
the

awesomeness
of
time,
that
he
remembers
the
experience
as
being
"like
a
glimpse

through
the
slitted
bone
with
which
Eskimos
protect
their
eyes
from
snow
blindness"

(ASH
105).

Yet,
among
Eiseley's
forays
into
time,
even
this
"trip"
cannot
count
as
his

longest.
In
"The
Cosmic
Prison"
in
The
Invisible
Pyramid
he
recounts
yet
another

time‐trip,
this
time
into
the
future.
While
attending
a
lecture
in
a
planetarium
he

falls
asleep
in
a
seat
in
the
back
of
the
room,
eventually
awakening
to
an
empty

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
36


auditorium.
On
the
planetarium's
ceiling,
however,
a
last
image
from
the
lecture

remains:
a
picture
of
“the
conformation
of
the
heavens
as
they
might
exist
in
the

remote
future
of
the
expanding
universe.”
Like
a
cosmic
Rip
Van
Winkle,
Eiseley
at

first
wonders
how
long
he
has
slept;
thinking
that
he
is
really
out‐of‐doors
and

gazing
at
a
real
night
sky,
he
feels
a
"queer
sense
of
panic"
come
over
him,
"as

though
transported
out
of
time.
n
Even
after
he
realizes
what
has
actually
happened,

he
remains
under
the
spell
of
the
illusion,
lost
in
reverie,
"waiting
upon
the

inevitable,
the
great
drama
and
surrender
of
the
inward
fall,
the
heart
contraction
of

the
cosmos."
Like
H.G.
Wells'
time
traveler,
he
finds
himself
a
witness
to
the
end
of

the
universe,
watching
in
his
archaeological
eye
stretched
to
the
limit
of
its
capacity,

the
"first
faint
galaxy
of
a
billion
suns
race
like
a
silverfish
across
the
night
and

vanish"
with
no
more
commotion
than
"the
slightest
leaf
movement
on
a
flooding

stream
.
.
.
(IP
37).

Often
Eiseley's
journeys
through
time
took
on
another
less
disorienting,
less

alienating
form
in
which
things
appear,
as
in
time‐lapse
photography,
as
if
they
are

"gestures
of
the
earth”—as
part
of
an
unbreakable
unity,
an
unfolding
which
is
time.

Eiseley
often
tends
to
envision
any
given
objects
as
if
it
were
the
last
frame
of
a

moving
series
of
images
in
which
the
object's
entire
emergence
into
being
is

somehow
instantaneously
revealed.

In
its
simplest
form,
this
time‐lapse
vision
caused
him
to
see
a
childhood

episode
(recalled
in
All
the
Strange
Hours)—in
which
a
nearly
dead
woodpecker

comes
back
to
life
under
his
care—as
his
"first
glimpse
of
unconsciousness,

resurrection,
and
time‐lapse
presented
in
bright
colors"
(151‐52).
But
more
often

this
unique
capacity
of
his
archaeological
eye
alters
the
very
appearance
of
things,

so
that
the
"scratched
pebble"
beneath
his
feet
comes
to
denote
an
"ice
age,
n
and

an
ordinary
summer
cloud
"changes
form
in
one
afternoon
as
an
animal
might
do
in

ten
million
years"
(UU
106).

The
possibility
of
such
time‐lapse
vision
always
lay
implicit
in
the
theory
of

evolution.
George
Bernard
Shaw
noted
long
ago
in
Back
to
Methusaleh
that
inherent

in
evolution
is
the
startling
realization
that
species
are


an
illusion
produced
by
the
shortness
of
our
individual
lives,
and
that
they
are

constantly
changing
and
melting
into
one
another
and
into
new
forms
as

surely
as
the
hand
of
a
clock
is
continually
moving,
though
it
moves
so
slowly

that
it
looks
stationary
to
us.13

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
37



And
so,
like
Einstein,
he
recognized,
"if
our
tempo
of
seeing
could
be
speeded,
life

would
appear
and
disappear
as
a
chaos
of
evanescent
.
.
.
forms,
possessing
the

impermanence
of
the
fairy
mushroom
circles
that
spring
up
on
our
lawns
at

midnight"
(UU
134).
Because
he
possessed
an
evolutionary
sense,
there
were
times

when
Eiseley
was,
in
fact,
a
witness
in
the
flesh
to
such
chaos.


Eiseley's
visionary
gift,
I
hasten
to
add,
need
not
be
thought
of
as
a
solely

"mystical"
power
(although
Eiseley,
it
is
true,
did
trace
its
source
back
to
the

"clairvoyant"
artistic
eye
of
his
mother);
his
time‐lapse
eye
was,
in
a
sense,
a
natural

outgrowth
of
his
scholarship,
especially
his
study
of
evolution,
as
the
above
passages

make
clear.
“Certain
knowledges,”
Hugh
Kenner
has
observed,
“have
simply
become

so
central
we
need
to
stop
evading
them,
so
as
to
get
free
from
not
knowing
what
we

are
doing.
.
.
.
We
need
to
know
all
the
time
certain
things
we
know
doing.
some
of

the
time”
(9).
Because
Eiseley
knew
all
of
the
time
what
many
other
evolutionary

thinkers
have
taken
to
be
only
"idols
of
the
study,”
he
saw
differently.
Once,

Geoffrey
Hartman
notes
in
The
Unmediated
Vision,
mysticism
was
believed
to
be

excessus
menti;
now,
it
seems
clear,
it
is
instead
an
accessus
menti,
the
product
of
a

panentheism
in
which
the
mind
becomes
fully
conscious
of
its
own
life
(172).

Eiseley's
mysticism
was,
clearly,
an
accessus
menti,
but
it
accessed
not
just
his
own

subjectivity
but
the
external
world,
the
physical
reality
that
science
knows.
His

understanding
of
evolution,
as
it
colored
his
quotidian
perception
of
things,
brought

him
to
understand
privately
a
truth
which,
lamentably,
has
not
become
common

knowledge
for
either
Darwin's
contemporaries
or
for
us:
the
realization
that,
as
a

result
of
the
discovery
of
evolutionary
emergence
and
descent
through
modification,


creation
and
its
mystery
[can]
no
longer
be
safely
relegated
to
the
past

behind
us.
It
might
now
reveal
itself
to
man
at
any
moment
in
a
farmer's

pasture
or
a
willow
thicket.
.
.
.
The
common
day
had
turned
marvelous.
‐
willow
thicket.
Creation—whether
seen
or
unseen—must
be
even
now
about

us
everywhere
in
the
prosaic
world
of
the
present.
(FT
58;
my
italics)


This
peculiar
capability
of
Eiseley's
vision
can
be
thought
of
as
having,
moreover,
a

physiological
source.

Like
Karl
Marx,
Eiseley
knew
that
"the
development
of
the
five
senses
is
the

work
of
the
entire
history
of
the
world
up
to
now
(quoted
in
Rothenberg,
America

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
38


486),
and
thus
within
those
senses
must
lie—potentially
recoverable
by
the
mind—
the
record
of
that
history.
Eiseley's
time‐laspe
vision
resulted
in
part
from
his
ability

to
raise
this
buried
record
to
the
level
of
consciousness.
Man,
Eiseley
knew,
has

brought
"almost
the
same
body
through
two
realms"
(IP
151)—the
natural
and
the

cultural—and
the
primordial
knowledge
the
body
thus
contains
came
to
provide
for

him
a
major
source
of
insight.
The
paths
which
his
perception,
and
consequently
his

thinking,
followed
were
not
those
of
his
contemporaries.
Because
“the
roots
of
our

phylogenetic
tree
pierce
deep
into
the
earth's
past,"
human
consciousness
in

general,
and
his
own
consciousness
in
particular,
are,
Eiseley
recognizes,
"similarly

embedded
in,
and
in
part
constructed
of,
pathways
which
were
laid
down
before
man

in
his
present
form
existed"
(IP
22);
as
Eiseley
was
fond
of
saying,
man
is,
in
reality,

a
“palimpsest,”
on
which
the
marks
left
by
the
history
of
his
and
life's
evolution
have

not
been
and
can
not
be
entirely
erased.
His
own
eye
remained
faithful
to
these

prehistoric
paths
and
not
to
the
routes
of
the
present.

Following
these
paths
to
their
source,
Eiseley
was
able
to
see,
as
he
did
once

in
the
Badlands
of
South
Dakota,
that
the
birds
he
observed
flying
over
such
a

lifeless
place
are,
like
all
living
things,
the
miraculous
reincarnation
of
chemicals—
carbon,
calcium,
and
iron—which
lie
on
the
ground
around
him
devoid
of
the
spirit

which
then
animated
their
flight
(IJ
171‐72);
to
imagine
himself
able
to
"drift
into

the
lower
cadences
of
the
frost,
or
the
crystalline
life
that
glistens
in
pebbles,
or
shi‐
nes
in
a
snowflake,
or
dreams
in
the
meteoric
iron
between
the
worlds"
(IJ
185);
to

realize
that
a
museum
hall
of
various
Crustacea,
all
with
the
"sea
change"
upon

them,
are
really
"one,
one
great
plan
that
flamed
there
on
its
pedestal
in
the
sinister

evening
light,
but
.
.
.
also
many
and
the
touch
of
Maya,
of
evening
light,
but
illusion,

lay
on
them"
(FT
82‐83);
to
grasp
that
"birds
are
intense,
fast
living
creatures—
reptiles,
I
suppose
one
might
say,
that
have
escaped
out
of
the
heavy
sleep
of
time,

transformed
fairy
creatures
dancing
over
sunlit
meadows"
(IJ
185);
to
notice
that,
"if

you
look
closely,"
you
can
not
only
"see
the
singing
reptile
in
the
bird"
but
"some

ancient
amphibian
fondness
for
the
ooze
where
the
child
wades
in
the
mud"
(FT
57);

to
understand
that
although
one
billion
years
of
evolutionary
development
have
gone

into
the
construction
of
the
technological
eye
of
Mount
Palomar's
200
inch
reflector

telescope,
its
function
may
really
be
no
different,
as
the
ultimate
eye
of
the
slime

mold
colony
of
human
history,
from
the
primitive
eye
of
the
Philobus
fungus:
both

scan
the
territory
ahead
into
which
the
"spores"
are
about
to
fly
as
the
"spore
cities"

die—for
somehow,
Eiseley
sees,
"in
the
mysterium
behind
genetics,
the
tiny

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
39


pigmented
eye
of
the
Philobus
and
the
rocket
capsule
were
evolved
together"
(IJ
45;

IP
76);
to
think
of
the
impersonality
and
general
confusion
of
a
modern
bureaucracy

as
"merely
the
giant
background
noise
of
the
universe
.
.
.”
in
its
present
earthly

manifestation
(ASH
203);
to
accept
the
humbling
realization
that
"someone
in

another
galaxy,
watching
the
evolution
of
the
Earth
would
have
observed
only
one

significant
change
in
the
color
of
light
emanating
from
it—with
the
advent
of
plants,

the
light
turned
green"
(IJ
61‐62);
to
perceive
boulders
as
"beasts
.
.
.
of
a
kind
man

ordinarily
lived
too
fast
to
understand"
which
appear
inanimate
because
the
tempo

of
the
life
in
them
[is]
slow"
(FT
173);
to
be
always
aware
of
"some
dark
and
passing

shadow
within
matter,
[which]
cups
out
the
eyes'
small
windows
or
spaces
the
notes

of
a
meadow
lark's
song
in
the
interior
of
a
mottled
egg,"
a
"principle
.
.
.
[that]
was

there
before
the
living
in
the
deeps
of
water"
(IJ
26).

Perhaps
the
most
stunning
instance
of
Eiseley's
time‐lapse
vision
appears
in

"The
Flow
of
the
River"
in
The
Immense
Journey.
There
Eiseley
tells
how
on
a

scientific
expedition
in
Nebraska
he
became
possessed
by
a
spirit
of
adventure
and

began
to
float,
lying
on
his
back,
down
the
Platte
River.
But
in
his
time‐lapse
vision

the
scene
is
transformed
and
he
feels
himself
becoming
one
with
the
river
itself.
He

identifies
himself
with
"the
meandering
roots
of
a
whole
watershed,"
senses
his

"outstretched
fingers
touching,
by
some
kind
of
clairvoyant
extension,
the
brooks
of

snow‐lined
glaciers,
n
while
he
flows
"toward
the
Gulf
over
the
eroded
debris
of

worn‐down
mountains"
(IJ
16):


I
was
streaming
alive
through
the
hot
and
working
ferment
of
the
sun,
or

oozing
secretively
through
shady
thickets.
I
was
water
and
the
unspeakable

alchemies
that
gestate
and
take
shape
in
water.
(19)


And
he
begins
to
realize
that


Turtle
and
fish
and
the
pinpoint
chirping
of
individual
frogs
are
all
watery

projections,
concentrations—as
man
himself
is
a
concentration—of
the

indescribable
and
liquid
brew
which
is
compounded
in
varying
proportions
of

salt
and
sun
and
time.


Finally
emerging
from
the
river,
he
feels


The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
40


the
body's
revolt
against
emergence
into
the
harsh
and
unsupporting
air,
its

reluctance
to
break
contact
with
that
mother
element
which
still,
at
this
late

point
in
time,
shelters
and
brings
into
being
nine
tenths
of
everything
alive.

(20)


But
man,
Eiseley
knows,
has
not
really
left
the
water;
men,
he
perceives,
are
really

"myriad
detached
ponds
with
their
own
swarming
corpuscular
life,"
and
he
himself

remains
"a
microcosm
of
pouring
rivulets
and
floating
driftwood
gnawed
by
the

mystery
of
his
own
creation"
(IJ
20).
He
under‐
ious
animulcules
of
my
stands,
like

the
Italian
fiction
writer
Italo
Calvino,
that
"once
we
swam,
now
we
are
swum”
(T‐
zero
49)
that,
like
the
pickerel
Thoreau
observed
in
Walden
Pond,
we
are
only

"animalized
water.”

Eiseley's
time‐lapse
vision
thus
made
it
impossible
for
him
to
see
himself
as

permanently
separate
from
the
natural
order,
his
emergence
from
it
being
an

everyday
perceptual
fact;
through
it
he
sees,
in
effect.
his
previous
reincarnations.

But
it
reveals
to
him
more
than
just
ceaseless
change
in
a
world
of
total
flux.
For
at

the
heart
of
the
writhing,
metamorphosing,
seemingly
chaotic
forms
of
Earth
he

detects,
in
the
"subcellars
of
the
mind,"
an
underlying
unity:


a
little
green
in
a
fulminating
spring,
some
strange
objects
floundering
and

helpless
in
the
ooze
on
the
tide
line,
something
beating,
beating,
like
a
heart

until
a
mounting
thunder
goes
up
through
the
towering
drum
that
ever
was

can
produce
its
strata,
until
no
rhythm,
until
no
mind
can
contain
it,
until
it

rises,
wet
and
seaweed‐crowned,
an
apparition
from
marsh
and
tide‐pool,

gross
with
matter,
gurgling
and
inarticulate,
ape
and
man‐ape,
grisly
and

fang‐scarred,
until
the
thunder
is
in
oneself
and
is
passing—to
the
ages

beyond—to
a
world
unknown,
forever
being
born.
(FT
55‐56)


The
world
revealed
in
his
archaeological
repetition"
(NC
154).
For
there
exists,


as
"Mendel
had
learned
from
those
tiny
intricate
units
that
shape
a
flower's
heart
.
.

.
[an]
elemental
patience
that
holds
a
living
organism
to
its
Seeing
through
course

while
mountains
wear
away"
(DC
231).
time,
Eiseley
sought
to
discover
this

"elemental
patience,"
but
not
just
for
scientific
purposes;
he
sought
to
emulate
it.

And
this
stability,
this
timelessness,
he
knew,
is
exemplified
best
not
by
the
organic

world
but
by
the
geological.


The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
41



T h e 
P o e try 
o f
T im e ‐L a p se 


As
their
talent
develops
guide
your
pupils
toward
Nature—into
Nature.
Make
them

experience
how
a
bud
is
born,
how
a
tree
grows,
how
a
butterfly
unfolds
so
that
they

may
become
just
as
resourceful,
flexible,
and
determined
as
great
Nature.
Seeing
is

believing—is
insight
into
the
workshop
of
God.
There,
in
Nature's
womb,
lies
the

secret
of
creation.

Paul
Klee


For
the
sake
of
a
single
poem,
you
must
see
many
cities,
many
people
and
Things,

you
must
understand
animals,
must
feel
how
birds
fly,
and
know
the
gestures
which

small
flowers
make
when
they
open
in
the
morning.

Rainer
Maria
Rilke


"Every
great
writer,"
Borges
has
noted
enigmatically
in
an
essay
on
Franz
Kafka,

"creates
his
precursors"
(108).
But
does
not
every
new
art
as
well?
If
it
can
be
shown

that
time‐lapse
photography
has
contributed
to
poetic
inspiration
in
our
time,

expanding
and
deepening
the
consciousness
of
poets,
enriching
the
possibilities
of

metaphor,
it
likewise
might
be
argued
that
the
particular
"door
of
perception"
known

as
time‐lapse
photography
may
have
opened
long
before
this
century
and
that
the

writers
I
have
discussed
are
in
fact
the
second
generation
of
time‐lapse
poets.
For

the
Romantics
likewise
seem
to
have
possessed
time‐lapse
consciousness,
a
vision

which
was
instrumental
to
formulation
of
that
organic
poetics
which
has
been
their

greatest
legacy
to
modern
thought.
Any
complete
"psychic
archaeology"
(the
phrase

is
Theodore
Roszak's,
in
Where
the
Wasteland
Ends)
of
time‐lapse
should
really

include
them
as
well
(though
space
permits
here
only
a
brief,
preliminary
survey).


I.
The
Romantics


When
William
Blake,
in
Jerusalem,
imagines
the
emanation
of
the
cosmos
(as
if

foreseeing
the
Big
Bang
of
20th
Century
cosmologists),
he
describes
it
in
time‐lapse

fashion:


The
Vegetative
Universe
opens
like
a
flower
from
the
Earth's
center

In
which
is
Eternity.
It
expands
in
Stars
to
the
Mundane
Shell.

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
42


And
there
it
meets
Eternity
again,
both
within
and
without.
.
.
.
(633;

Plate
13,
ll.
34‐36)


And
in
Milton
does
not
Blake
suggest
that
all
poetry
is
in
fact
the
product
of
a
new

orientation
in
time,
the
transcendence
of
normal
biological
rhythms
and
an
ordinary

metabolism,
made
possible
through
poetic
imagination's
time‐lapse
photography?


Every
time
less
than
the
pulsation
of
the
artery

Is
equal
in
its
period
and
value
to
Six
Thousand
Years.

For
in
this
Period
the
Poet's
Work
is
done.
(Keynes,
p.
516;
Plates
28

[ll.
62‐63]
and
29
[l.
1]


The
work,
that
is,
of
cleansing
the
"doors
of
perception"
so
man
can
see
every
thing

"as
it
is,
infinite."

In
the
work
of
Samuel
Taylor
Coleridge—both
his
poetry
and
poetics
and
his

natural
philosophy—we
find
a
vivid
second
example.
The
theory
of
creative

imagination,
for
which
Coleridge
was
a
major
progenitor,
held
(according
to
James

Engell's
recent
authoritative
study)
that
"it
is
not
simply
that
the
imagination

perceives
the
development
of
nature;
it
generates
a
similar
process
in
the
self."
It

was
grounded
in
the
faith
that
the
"imagination
contains
within
itself
a
potential

which,
uniting
with
external
influences
of
nature,
leads
the
mind
to
a
new
stage
of

growth"
(Engell
347).
(Nature,
as
Goethe
put
it
succinctly,
is
"a
model
of
everything

artistic"
[quoted
in
Verdi
225].)
And
Coleridge's
conception
of
the
origin
of
such

imagination
in
the
individual
suggest
a
knowledge
of
metamorphosis
of
form
which

(as
Owen
Barfield
has
argued
in
his
interpretation
of
Romanticism's
place
in
the

evolution
of
consciousness)
harkens
back
to
the
Greek
awareness
of
phusis,
and

ahead
(as
I
would
like
to
suggest)
to
becoming
as
revealed
in
time‐lapse

photography.

In
Biographia
Literaria,
for
example,
Coleridge
writes:


They
and
only
they
can
acquire
the
philosophic
imagination,
the
sacred
power

of
self‐intuition,
who
within
themselves
can
interpret
and
understand
the

symbol,
that
the
wings
of
the
air‐sylph
are
forming
within
the
skin
of
the

caterpillar;
those
only,
who
feel
in
their
own
spirits
the
same
instinct,
which

impels
the
chrysalis
of
the
horned
fly
to
leave
room
in
its
involucrum
for

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
43


antennae
yet
to
come.
They
know
and
feel,
that
potential
works
in
them,
even

12
as
the
actual
works
on
them!
(Chapter
XII) 


In
time‐lapse
photography's
latter‐day
organicism,
the
potential
and
the
actual—
natura
naturans
and
natura
naturata
(in
Coleridge's
terminology)
are
revealed

intertwined:
what
to
Coleridge
are
poles
in
man's
organic
relation
to
nature

become—in
a
marriage
enacted
via
technology—a
living
unity.

Both
Wordsworth
and
Shelley
also
seem
to
have
possessed
time‐lapse
vision.

The
many
"spots
of
time"
passages
in
The
Prelude,
for
example,
suggest
a
momentous

sense
of
the
world's
becoming,
a
becoming
which
seems
about
to
engulf
the
poet's

growing
sensibility.
The
famous
account
of
crossing
the
Alps
in
Book
VI,
with
its

mystical
revelation
of
the
natural
world
as
manifesting
the
"workings
of
one
mind,

the
features/Of
the
same
face,
blossoms
upon
one
tree;/Characters
of
the
great

Apocalypse,/The
types
and
symbols
of
Eternity,/Of
first
and
last,
and
midst,
and

without
end,"
is
a
particularly
striking
example
(269).

Is
not
Shelley's
"Mont
Blanc,"
in
its
similar
depiction
of
a
mind
which
"renders

and
receives
fast
influencings,/Holding
an
unremitting
interchange/
With
the
clear

universe
of
things
around,"
a
poetic
precursor
of
time‐lapse?
It
is,
after
all,
a
poem—
redolent
with
images
of
a
nature
seemingly
still
and
yet
eternally
active,
of
a
world

"Where
waterfalls
around
it
leap
forever,/Where
woods
and
winds
contend,
and
a

vast
river/Over
its
rocks
ceaselessly
burns
and
raves"—which
presents
us
with
a

perfect
scenario
for
a
time‐lapse
film.
In
a
time‐lapse
medium,
the
essentially

geological
imagination
of
Shelley's
great
poem
would
no
longer
need
tax
the
limits
of

language.


12
The
following
passage
(from
the
Statesman’s
Manual),
a
quintessentially
Coleridgian
description
of
a

growing
plant,
also
demonstrates
well
Coleridge’s
time‐lapse
sensibility:


Lo!—with
the
rising
sun
it
commences
its
outward
life
and
enters
into
communion
with
all
the
elements,
at

once
assimilating
them
to
itself
and
to
each
other.
At
the
same
moment
it
strikes
its
roots
and
unfolds
its

leaves,
absorbs
and
respires,
steams
forth
its
cooling
vapour
and
finer
fragrance,
and
breathes
a
repeairing

spirit,
aat
once
the
food
and
tone
of
the
atmosphere,
into
the
atmosphere
that
feeds
it.
Lo!—at
the
touch

of
light
how
it
returns
an
air
akin
to
light,
and
yet
with
the
same
pulse
effectuates
its
own
secret
growth,

still
contracting
to
fix
what
expanding
it
had
defined.
Lo!—how
upholding
the
ceaseless
plastic
motion
of

the
parts
in
the
profoundest
rest
of
the
whole
it
become
the
visible
organismus
of
the
entire
silent
o

elementary
life
of
nature,
and
therefore,
in
incoporating
the
one
extremes
becomes
the
symbol
of
the

other;
the
natural
symbol
of
that
higher
life
of
reason,
in
which
the
whole
series
(known
to
us
in
our
present

state
of
being)
is
perfected,
in
which,
therefore,
all
the
subordinate
gradations
recur,
and
are
re‐ordained
in

some
abundant
honor.
.
.
(quoted
from
I.
A.
Richards’
edition
of
The
Portable
Coleridge
[394]).


The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
44


Shelley's
"The
Sensitive
Plant"
likewise
seems
a
fit
subject
for
time‐lapse,

though
on
a
smaller
scale.
The
pathetic
fallacy
to
which
the
poem
so
often
succumbs

as
Shelley
describes
the
life
of
a
garden
the
"lovely
mind,/
Which
dilating,
had

molded
her
mien
and
motion/Like
a
sea‐flower
unfold
beneath
the
ocean
.
.
."
of
the

lady
who
tends
it
would
not
seem
quite
so
precious
if
we
understood
it
to
be
the

result
of
poetic
diction's
attempt
to
capture
in
progress
an
essentially
invisible
world

of
transformation.
All
the
"sweet
shapes
and
odours"
of
the
garden,
as
Shelley
tells

us
in
the
poem's
closing
stanza,
never
really
pass
away;
for
there
the
potential
and

the
actual
ebb
and
flow.
And
"For
love,
and
beauty,
and
delight,/There
is
not
death

nor
change."
But
men
forget
this
fact,
Shelley
explains,
because
"their
might/Exceeds

our
organs,
which
endure/No
light,
being
themselves
obscure."
Time‐lapse
vision,

poetic
or
photographic,
lessens
the
obscurity
and
brings
illumination
through
the

imaginative
enhancement
of
merely
biological
organs.

And
was
not
Goethe's
obsession—pursued
in
both
his
poetry
and
science—
with
the
"metamorphosis
of
plants,"
his
discovery,
by
means
of
the
"exact
concrete

imagination"
he
sought
to
perfect,
of
the
"Urpflanze"
(the
archetypal
Plant),
a

13
longing
for
and
an
imagining
of
a
kind
of
time‐lapse
vision? 
When,
in
his
legendary

1794
encounter
with
Schiller,
Goethe
was
told
by
his
fellow
poet
that
the
Urpflanze

was
not
a
product
of
experience
at
all
(as
its
discoverer
claimed),
but
only
an
idea,

he
had
replied,
"Well,
so
much
the
better;
it
means
that
I
have
ideas
without

knowing
it,
and
can
even
see
them
with
my
eyes"
(quoted
by
Heller,
The
Disinherited

Mind
7).
For
Goethe,
that
"Greek
born
in
the
North"
(as
Schiller
himself
called
him),

phusis
was
evidently
still
a
reality.

"Nature
has
neither
core/Nor
outer
rind,"
Goethe
was
convinced,
"Being
all

things
at
once"
(from
"Allerdings:
Dem
Physiker"
["True
Enough:
To
the
Physicist"],

Selected
Poems:
237).
This
conviction
lead
to
an
awareness
of
metamorphosis
in

nature
(as
Erich
Heller
has
observed)
"far
nearer
to
Aristotle's
entelechy
than
to

modern
genetics."
It
inspired
a
method
of
approach
toward
the
study
of
natural

phenomena
which
(in
his
own
words)
did
not
"tackle
Nature
by
merely
dissecting
and

particularizing,
but
shows
her
at
work
and
alive,
manifesting
herself
in
her
wholeness

in
every
single
part
of
her
being"
(Heller
6).
Unlike
his
contemporary
Kant,
who


13
Of
Goethe’s
method,
Frederick
Amrine
has
written:


Like
an
artist
painting
the
same
still‐life
day
after
day.
the
Goethean
scientist
gradually
restructures
his

intentional
faculty
and
thereby
evolves
new
ways
of
seeing.
Goethe
goes
so
far
as
to
speak
of
awakening

new
organs.”
(23)

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
45


denied
that
the
phenomenal
provided
access
to
the
noumenal,
Goethe
(like

Coleridge)
found
the
two
forever
mated,
and
he
thus
never
lost
faith
that
through

"our
contemplation
of
incessantly
creative
nature"
we
might
"become
worthy
of

some
intellectual
participation
in
her
creativeness"
(Heller
29).
Thus
he
could

counsel,
in
a
poem
which
distills
the
theory
of
organic
imagination
into
four
lines,


If
it
is
the
greatest,
the
highest
you
seek,
the
plant
can
direct
you.

Strive
to
become
through
your
will
what,
without
will,
it
is.
(The

Eternal
Feminine
129)


Goethe,
of
course,
had
derided
the
effect
of
microscopes
and
telescopes
on

human
vision,
preferring
the
"true
illusion"
of
our
actual,
subjective
experience
of

nature,
unaided
by
any
enhancement—save
that
provided
by
"exact,
concrete

imagination."
But
surely
he
would
have
embraced
the
techne
of
time‐lapse

photography
as
a
means,
at
once
scientific
and
poetic,
of
publicizing
the

Urphanomena;
as
a
singular
revelation—both
idea
and
experience—of
that
"holy

secret,
clear
as
day"
(from
"Epirrhema,”
Selected
Poems
159)
which
his
own
great

work
had
discovered
and
celebrated.


II.
20th
Century
Poetry


Understandably,
given
the
ancient,
primordial
rapport
of
phusis
and
poiesis,
it
has

been
20th
century
poetry
which,
it
would
seem,
has
taken
time‐lapse's
vision
of

becoming
most
to
heart,
incorporating
its
methods
and
revelations
into
its
form
and

substance
as
if
the
technique's
enhanced
revelation
of
phusis
were
"almost
a

remembrance."

When
the
French
poet
Cendrars
first
witnessed
time‐lapse
photography
in
a

Parisian
theatre,
he
was
moved
to
exclaim,
flabbergasted
by
the
experience,
that

"accelerated,
the
life
of
flowers
is
Shakespearean"
(quoted
by
Munier,
93).
In
the

new
cinematic
technique
Cendrars
had
evidently
recognized
a
sister
art.
So,
too,

have
other
20th
Century
poets.

Like
many
of
his
contemporaries,
Cendrars
was
inspired
by
what
Monique

Chefdor
has
called
"the
general
craze"
for
the
cinema.
"The
fragments
of
L'A
B
C
du

cinema
(1926)
which
[Cendrars]
published
in
various
reviews
in
1919,"
Chefdor

observes,
"testify
to
his
enthusiasm
for
the
seventh
art,
which
he
eulogized
at
times,

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
46


to
delirious
heights.
In
his
typical
blending
of
scholarly
erudition
and
fantasy
he

proclaimed
with
prophetic
intensity
that
the
cinematographic
arts
were
to
become

the
language
of
a
race
of
new
human
beings,
the
Gospel
of
tomorrow,
the
fourth

revolution
after
the
three
previous
ones
of
the
importation
of
the
Phoenician

alphabet
by
Cadmus
to
Greece,
the
discovery
of
printing
and
the
invention
of
the

radio
.
.
."
(68).

Cendrars'
enthusiasm
for
time‐lapse
was
pronounced.
In
a
side
excursion
into

the
cinema
in
his
autobiographical
A
Night
in
the
Forest,
for
example,
time‐lapse

figures
prominently
in
his
theorizing
and
in
his
metaphors.
Considering
the
manner
in

which
film
reveals
the
mysteries
of
human
character,
he
insists
that
"There's
no

reason
today
why
we
cannot
unravel
the
complex
skeins
of
a
human
character
on
the

screen,
in
the
way
slow
motion
[sic]
shows
us
the
germination,
burgeoning,
budding,

blooming,
and
death
of
plants."
And
though,
he
admits,
we
may
not
recognize
at
first

the
portrait
of
man
which
would
thus
emerge,
we
will
come
to
accept
our
cinematic

likeness
as
"second
nature,"
as
phylogeny
and
ontogeny,
phusis
and
nature,
poiesis

and
techne.


This
thick
blood,
this
suspended
flower,
this
diamond
ballet,
this
smile
full
of

stops
and
starts
like
the
traffic
in
a
big
city,
this
new
shadow
in
the
light,
this

kernel,
this
black
eye,
this
dark
streak,
this
crack
in
the
microscopic
analysis,

this
bean—it's
you—it's
you.
Don't
hesitate;
move!
You
are
dead;
move!
You

are
curled
in
a
spiral;
unwind!
You
are
born
into
the
reality
of
the
cinema;

move!
Jump!
and
watch
out
for
the
matrix!
.
.
.

You,
yourself,
you,
anonymous
as
you
are
to
yourself,
alive,
dead,

living
dead,
wild
rose,
angelica,
hermaphrodite,
human,
too
human,
beast,

mineral
vegetable,
chemistry,
rare
butterfly,
the
residue
in
a
crucible,
the

root
of
the
voltaic
arc,
a
plummet
to
abysmal
depths,
two
fins,
an
air
hole,

mechanical
and
spiritual,
full
of
gears
and
prayers,
aerobic,
thermogenic,

winged
foot,
ion,
god,
automaton,
embryo,
seal
with
peyote
in
his
eyes.


It
is
you
in
instaneity.

It
is
you
in
eternity.

In
full
becoming,

You
in
the
flow
of
time.


The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
47


The
"future
role
of
the
cinema,"
Cendrars
would
thus
prophecy,
"will
be
to

rediscover
man,
ourselves,
to
show
us
up,
to
make
us
accept
ourselves
without

resentment
and
without
disgust,
such
as
we
are,
with
the
lives
of
our
ancestors
and

our
children
within
us,
with
no
humbug,
beyond
all
conventions,
in
all
fatality,
in
all

atavism,
in
full
becoming,
like
animals,
whether
drunken
or
good
or
reasonable
or

wicked."

At
about
the
same
time
in
the
century
that
time‐lapse
photography
was
being

developed
as
a
tool
in
the
study
of
organic
life
processes,
the
German
poet
Rainer

Maria
Rilke
had
come
to
understand
the
poet's
true
task
to
be
as
witness
to
all
acts

of
blossoming.
In
his
"Gesang
der
Frauen
an
den
Dichter,"
for
example,
a
group
of

women
beseech
the
poet,
pleading
with
him
to
understand
and
describe
their
growth

correctly
and
alluding
to
the
burgeoning
natural
world
of
which
they
are
inextricably

a
part,
"Sieh,
wie
sich
alles,
aufut:
so
sind
wir"
("Look
how
everything
unfolds;
we

are
like
that")
(quoted
in
Hartman
74).

Rilke's
whole
poetic
achievement,
it
might
be
argued,
was
the
attainment
of
a

means
for
capturing
such
unfoldings
in
progress—in
time‐lapse,
if
you
will.
The

anemone
he
describes
in
Die
Sonnette
an
Orpheus,
II,
5
(1923),
a
flower
fully,

synchronously
open
in
tropism
to
"das
polyphone/Licht
der
lauten
Himmel"
("the

polyphonic
light
of
the
loud
skies")
in
a
way
Rilke
thought
man
himself
should
be
to

earthly
experience,
was,
after
all,
a
central
symbol
for
Rilke
of
true
poetic

consciousness.

what
he
wanted
to
learn
to
be
a
poet

allude
to
epigraph


Rilke's
conception
of
time‐lapse
even
took
on
evolutionary
dimensions.

"Alongside
of
the
most
rapid
movements,"
he
wrote
in
"The
Young
Workman's

Letter,"


there
will
always
be
slow
ones,
such,
indeed
as
are
of
so
extreme
a

leisureliness
that
we
shall
not
live
to
see
the
course
they
take.
But
that
is

what
humanity
is
for,
is
it
not,
to
await
the
realization
of
that
which
exceeds

a
single
life‐span?—From
its
point
of
view
the
slowest
process
is
often
the

quickest,
that
is
to
say,
we
find
that
we
called
it
slow
simply
because
it
could

not
be
measured.
(Where
Silence
Reigns
74‐75)


The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
48


We
find
the
Irish
poet
and
mystic
AE
(George
Russell)
thinking
of
his

relationship
to
time
and
memory,
and
consequently
his
source
of
poetic
inspirations,

in
terms
of
time‐lapse
photography.
In
Song
and
Its
Fountains
(1932),
a
book
which
is

as
much
spiritual
autobiography
as
a
theory
of
poetry,
he
tells
of
a
form
of

meditation
he
began
to
practice
as
an
aid
to
creation,
in
search
of
the
wellsprings
of

poetry.


I
began
to
practice
a
meditation
the
ancient
sages
spoke
of.
In
this
meditation

we
start
from
where
we
are
and
go
backwards
through
the
day;
and
later,
as

we
become
quicker
in
the
retracing
of
our
way,
through
weeks,
through
years,

what
we
are
now
passing
into
what
we
did
or
thought:
and
so
we
recall
a

linked
medley
of
action,
passion,
imagination
or
thought.
It
is
most
difficult
at

first
to
retrace
our
way,
to
remember
what
we
thought
or
did
even
an
hour

before.
But
if
we
persist
the
past
surrenders
to
us
and
we
can
race
back

fleetly
over
days
or
months.
The
sages
enjoined
this
meditation
with
the

intent
that
we
might,
where
we
had
been
weak,
conquer
in
imagination,
kill

the
dragons
which
overcame
us
and
undo
what
evil
we
might
have
done.


Able
to
see
his
life
whole,
to
understand
that
all
its
seemingly
disparate
events
are

of
a
piece,
he
can
thus
see
it
as
a
becoming,
an
unfolding
in
time:


I
found,
when
I
had
made
this
desire
for
retrospect
dominant
in
meditation,

that
an
impulse
had
been
communicated
to
everything
in
my
nature
to
go

back
to
origins.
IT
BECAME
OF
MYSELF
AS
IF
ONE
OF
THOSE
MOVING
PICTURES

WE
SEE
IN
THE
THEATRES,
WHERE
IN
A
FEW
MOMENTS
A
PLANT
BURSTS
FORTH

INTO
BUD,
LEAF,
AND
BLOSSOM
DWINDLING
INTO
THE
BUD.
MY
MOODS
BEGAN

TO
HURRY
BACK
TO
THEIR
FIRST
FOUNTAINS.
(xxx;
my
italics)


Could
AE
have
conceived
of
his
life,
imagined
the
unity
of
it,
in
this
way
without

time‐lapse
photography
as
the
vehicle
of
his
metaphor?


In
Hart
Crane's
"Repose
of
Rivers"
(1926),
an
account
of
the
poet
as
he
stand

enraptured
before
the
Mississippi
delta—"That
seething
steady,
leveling
of
the

marshes"—time‐lapse
is
again
the
controlling
metaphor.
Remembering
back
to
an

earlier
time
when
his
present
visionary
state—a
kind
of
time‐lapse
view
of
geological

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
49


and
biological
processes
working
their
effects
over
great
expanses
of
time,
yet
seen

in
the
imagination
as
instantaneous—was
an
everyday
occurrence
for
him,
the
poet

recalls
how
his
mystical
vision
of
cypress
trees
as
they
"shared
the
noon's/Tyranny"

once
had
the
power
to
fascinate
his
innocent
attention
so
totally
that
it
drew
him

"into
Hades
almost."
He
summons
up
again
that
earlier
consciousness
in
which
he

looked
on
possessed
as
"mammoth
turtles
climbing
sulphur
dreams/Yielded,
while

sun‐silt
rippled
them/
Asunder."
This
difficult,
surreal,
drunken
imagery
is,
of
course,

quintessential
Crane,
but
"Repose
of
Rivers"
is
not
merely
the
dregs
of
Crane's
now

legendary
drinking
bouts
in
search
of
inspiration.
At
the
heart
of
the
poem's

dreamlike,
vatic
vision
lies
a
time‐lapse
consciousness
of
nature,
as
the
poem's

closing
lines
make
apparent.
Lost
in
that
"memory
all
things
nurse,"
Crane
equates

his
former
vision
with
his
present
one—like
AE
finding
his
end
in
his
beginning—and,

reclaiming
his
lost
powers
as
a
seer,
realizes
that
then
as
now
he
is
able,
in
a
kind
of

time‐lapse
hearing,
to
listen
to
"wind
flaking
sapphire.
.
.
./
And
willows
could
not

hold
more
steady
sound"
(xxx).

Or
consider
Richard
Eberhardt's
often
anthologized
"The
Groundhog"
(1930).

If
it
had
not
been
written
over
forty
years
earlier,
the
poem
might
be
misjudged
as
a

poetic
plagiarism
of
Sean
Morris'
time‐lapse
record
of
a
mouse's
consummation.
For

like
that
film,
Eberhardt's
poem
telescopes
time
(three
years)
to
present
a
vivid

moving
picture
of
a
small
mammal's
corpse
eaten
by
maggots.
But
the
poem
is
no

mere
recording;
it
is
not
a
disinterested,
scientifically
valid
account.
It
is
a
poet's

subjective
eye,
not
an
objective,
time‐lapse
camera,
which
captures
the
unfolding

scene.

It
is
the
poet
who
in
mid‐summer,
"Half
with
loathing,
half
with
a
strange
love

.
.
.",
bears
witness
to
"nature
ferocious
in
him
[the
groundhog]";
who
detects
"his

maggots'
might/And
seething
cauldron
of
his
being
.
.
.";
who
experimentally
pokes

him
"with
an
angry
stick,"
only
to
see
the
"fever"
of
the
maggots'
meal
become
"a

flame."
It
is
the
poet
who
falls
to
his
knees,
"Praying
for
joy
in
the
sight
of
decay,"

his
faith
in
the
meaning
of
things
momentarily
shaken
by
the
"senseless
change"
he

confronts,
reminded
of
his
own
mortality
by
this
time‐lapse
momento
mori.

It
is
the
poet
who
returns
in
autumn
to
discover,
in
a
year
which
has
"lost
its

meaning,"
"The
sap
gone
out
of
the
groundhog"
and
only
the
"bony
sodden
hulk

remaining";
who
comes
back
to
the
scene,
like
a
war
veteran
compulsively
attracted

to
the
spot
where
he
lost
a
limb,
finding
only
a
"little
hair
left,/And
bone
bleaching

in
the
sunlight/Beautiful
as
architecture."

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
50


And
it
is
the
poet
who
comes
back
once
more,
three
years
later,
unable
then

to
detect
even
a
trace
of
the
drama
to
which
all
along
he
has
been
the
only
witness.

Eberhardt's
subjective,
poetic,
time‐lapse
record
of
the
groundhog's
recycling

makes
vivid
for
the
reader
the
conjoined
feelings
of
awe
and
revulsion
provoked
by

viewing
the
Morris
film.
For
Eberhardt
cannot
achieve
the
aesthetic
distance

necessary
to
find
the
scene
beautiful,
nor
can
the
viewer
of
the
film
detach
himself

sufficiently
to
appreciate
objectively
the
richly
patterned
transformation,
perhaps

beautiful
in
and
of
itself.
Poetic
time‐lapse,
it
seems,
is
the
product
of
a

consciousness
which
is
itself
still
within
time,
still
embodied,
still
sympathetically

linked
in
imagination
with
all
that
it
perceives,
still
the
eye
and
the
voice
of
the

natural
world's
coming‐into‐being,
its
"blooming,
buzzing,
confusion."

The
poetry
of
Dylan
Thomas,
whose
synaesthetic,
hallucinatory
imagery
has

often
been
called
surrealistic,
has
a
distinctly
time‐lapse
quality.
No
poet
of
our
time

has
been
more
attuned
to
the
ongoing
flow
of
time
and
its
effects.
In
"Death
Shall

Have
No
Dominion,"
for
example,
he
records
a
vision
of
the
transmigration
of
souls

which
equates
it
with
the
water
cycle,
culminating
in
the
return
of
those
souls
to

nature,
described
in
a
powerful
image:


Heads
of
characters
hammer
through
daisies;

Break
in
the
sun
till
the
sun
breaks
down.

And
death
shall
have
no
dominion.
(77)


And
it
is
a
time‐lapse
sensibility,
is
it
not,
which
allows
him
to
see
that,
in
the
midst

of
the
world's
becoming,
creation
and
destruction
are
one:
"The
force
that
through

the
green
fuse
drives
the
flower
/
Drives
my
green
age;
that
blasts
the
roots
of

trees/Is
my
destroyer"
(10).

In
Theodore
Roethke's
"Transplanting
(1948),"
the
poet's
vivid
description
of

a
gardener's
act
becomes,
in
Roethke's
imagination,
a
time‐lapse
vision
of
the
plant's

whole
burgeoning.
The
poem's
first
stanza
is
a
careful
record
of
a
greenhouse

transplanting.
as
careful
hands
make
the
plants
"Ready
for
the
long
days
under
the

sloped
glass."
But
the
second
stanza
is
witnessed
by
no
physical
eye.

In
yet
another
poetic
return
to
time‐lapse's
primal
scene,
Roethke
grows
the

plant,
sampling
moments
from
its
"long
days"
in
its
bed:


The
sun
warming
the
fine
loam,

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
51


The
young
horns
winding
and
unwinding.

Creaking
their
thin
spines,

The
underleaves,
the
smallest
buds

Breaking
into
nakedness,

The
blossoms
extending

Out
into
the
sweet
air,

The
whole
flower
extending
outward,

Stretching
and
reaching.


Later
in
the
century,
time‐lapse
poetry
continued
to
be
written.
For
example,

when
William
Carlos
Williams,
in
"Asphodel
that
Greeny
Flower"
(1955),
looks
back

over
his
life,
his
marriage,
and
his
career
as
a
poet
from
the
vantage
point
of
his

seventies
and
grasps
for
the
first
time
their
essential
reciprocity,
it
is
as
if
he
were

watching
a
time‐lapse
film
of
his
own
individuation:


As
I
think
of
it
now







after
a
lifetime










it
is
as
if

a
sweet‐scented
flower







were
poised










and
for
me
did
open.
(182)


Underpinning
W.
S.
Merwin's
"Unchopping
a
Tree"
(1970)
is
a
time‐lapse

vision
of
natural
growth.
A
prose
poem,
written
in
the
form
of
an
instruction
manual

intended
to
assist
in
the
reassembly
of
a
felled
tree,
Merwin's
ironic
lines
explores

the
complexity
of
living
systems
and
man's
inadequacy
in
the
face
of
the
natural.
The

poem's
voice
is
that
of
a
Swiftian,
cold‐hearted
expert,
who
speaks
matter‐of‐factly

of
an
infinitely
complex,
step‐by‐step
process:
the
reattachment
of
each
leaf
and

branch,
the
replacement
of
nuts
(he
instructs
the
reader
to
place
those
already

opened
back
into
their
shells),
the
labyrinthine
reconstitution
of
each
spider
web.

There
will,
he
admits,
be
some
difficulties
of
course:
"With
spider
webs,
you
must

simply
do
the
best
you
can.
We
do
not
have
the
spider's
weaving
equipment."
Nor,

lacking
"any
substitute
for
the
leaf's
living
bond
with
its
point
of
attachment
and

nourishment,"
will
the
foliage
be
easily
put
back.

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
52


As
Merwin's
expert
goes
on
to
describe
the
rest
of
the
tree's
"resurrection"—
the
replacement
of
the
bark,
the
gluing
in
of
innumerable
splinters,
the
erection
of

the
trunk—it
becomes
clear
that
this
process,
which
the
speaker
proudly
calls
"men's

work,"
is
in
fact
beyond
human
means.
The
work,
we
are
told
in
understatement,
may

cause
us
to
wonder
"to
what
extent
it
should
be
described
as
natural,
to
what
extent

man‐made."


Indeed,
rechopping
a
tree
"will
lead
.
.
.
to
speculations
about
the
parentage

of
beauty
itself,
to
which
you
will
return."
And
at
the
poem's
end,
we
learn,
the

process
is
not
yet
finished.


Others
are
waiting.

Everything
is
going
to
have
to
be
put
back.


In
effect
a
reverse‐motion
time‐lapse
prose
poem,
"Unchopping
a
Tree"
is
time‐lapse

in
an
ironic
mode.

Or
think
of
May
Swenson's
"July
4th"
(1972),
a
vivid
description
of
holiday

fireworks
and
of
the
reactions
they
provoke
in
an
Independence
Day
audience,
but
a

poem
for
which
time‐lapse
photography
is
again
clearly
the
vehicle.
Swenson's

source
of
inspiration
is
apparent
in
the
poem's
first
lines:


Gradual
bud
and
bloom
and
seedfall
speeded
up
are

these
mute
explosions
in
slow
motion.

From
vertical
shoots
above
the
sea,
the
fire

flowers
open,
shedding
their
petals.
(xxx)


The
poem
goes
on
to
develop
this
analogy
between
the
organic
growth
of
a
flower
in

bloom
and
the
"fire
flowers"
opening‐out
above
her.

For
A.
R.
Ammons,
a
time‐lapse
aesthetic
is
central
to
his
very
concept
of
his

art
of
appearance
and
reality,
nature
and
culture,
as
is
apparent
in
his
"Poetics,"
one

of
several
attempts
by
Ammons
at
an
"ars
poetica."
"I
look
for
the
way/things
will

turn/out
spiraling
from
a
center,"
Ammons
explains.
Hoping
to
give
them
unselfish

poetic
expression,
"being
available/to
any
shape
that
may
be/summoning
itself

through
me/from
the
self
not
mine
but
ours,"
he
seeks,
without
interference,

for
the

forms

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
53



things
want
to
come
as


from
what
black
wells
of
possibility,

how
a
thing
will
unfold.
.
.
.
(61)


Like
"The
Groundhog,"
Robert
Hayden's
"The
Night
Blooming
Cereus"
(1972)

seems
almost
a
conscious
imitation
of
a
time‐lapse
film.
For
the
poem
is,
like

Swenson's,
an
account
of
a
flower
coming
into
bloom—a
staple
of
the
time‐lapse

repertoire,
part
of
its
Tudor
Code.
But
like
"Groundhog,"
"Cereus"
is
no
mere
record

but
a
subjective
account
of
a
natural
process
as
experienced
by
a
particular
human

consciousness.

The
poet
tells,
in
a
first
person
narrative,
of
how
"for
nights/we
[the
speaker

and
a
companion]
waited,
hoping
to
see/the
heavy
bud
[of
the
Cereus,
a
cactus]

break
into
flower."
We
see
that
bud's
"neck‐like
tube/hooking
down
from
the

edge/of
the
leaf‐branch/nearly
to
the
floor
.
.
."
and
take
notice
of
how
the
Cereus,

"packed/tight
with
its
miracle
swayed
stiffly
on
breaths/
of
air,
moved/as
though

impelled
by
stirrings
within
itself"—all‐in—all
as
accurate
a
picture
of
the
Cereus
as

any
time‐lapse
camera
could
capture,
given
the
limits
of
specificity
always
inherent

in
language.

But
the
speaker
confesses—as
if
about
to
succumb
to
those
still‐alive

pressures
of
natural
selection
which
teach
men
not
to
see
so
precisely—that,
face‐to‐
face
with
such
becoming,
he
feels
"repelled
as
much
as
.
.
.
fascinated."
As
if
before

his
very
eyes
the
Cereus'
shape
mutates,
metaphorically,
into
something
else,
and

the
speaker
sees
in
the
plant
"snake,/eyeless
bird
head,/beak
that
would
gape/with

grotesque
life
squawk."
His
companion,
however,
more
impressed
than
the
poet
with

"the
imminence
of
bloom,"
and
ready
to
celebrate
the
"archaic
mysteries"
they
are

about
to
behold,
redirects
his
attention
to
the
"rigorous
design"
of
the
unfolding
the

hold
of
that
vision
of
the
natural
grotesque
which
nearly
possesses
him.

The
poet
recalls
recent
experiments
which
have
recorded
the
"secret
life
of

plants"—a
"philodendron's
fear,"
for
example,
as
registered
on
a
polygraph
—and

realizes
that
he
too
confronts
"tribal
sentience/In
the
cactus,
focused/
energy
of

will."
But
he
needs
no
polygraph,
or
time‐lapse
camera,
to
capture
it.
For
thanks
to

the
marvelous
technique
of
a
poet's
imagination,
he
has
access
to
a
process
no

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
54


technology
could
touch:
"That
belling
of/tropic
perfume
—that
signaling/not
meant

for
us;/the
darkness
cloyed
with
summoning/
fragrance."

Waiting
patiently
for
the
precise
moment
(for
a
Cereus'
bloom
lasts
only
a

very
short
time),
the
time‐lapse
watcher
"marveling/
beheld
at
the
last
the

achieved/flower."
And
even
then,
in
poetry's
faithful
commitment
to
becoming,
the

blooming
does
not
stop,
is
not
terminated
in
freeze‐frame
last
words;
for
in
the

poem's
closing
lines
we
learn
"Its
moonlight/petals
were/still
unfold‐/ing,
the
spike

fringe
of
the
outer/perianth
recessing/as
we
watched"
(24‐26).
I
can
think
of
no

better
demonstration
of
Archibald
MacLeish's
contention
that
poetry
"gives

knowledge
of
the
chaos
and
confusion
of
the
world
by
imposing
order
upon
it
which

leaves
it
still
the
chaos
and
confusion
which
it
really
is."

Jorie
Graham's
"How
Morning
Glories
Could
Bloom
at
Dusk"
(1980)
will
serve

as
a
final
example
of
20th
century
time‐lapse
poetry.
A
meditation
on
the
reasons
of

the
heart,
Graham's
poem
takes
the
circadian
rhythm
of
blossoming
vegetation
as
its

controlling
metaphor.
"Left
to
itself,"
the
poem
begins,







the
heart
continues,
as
the
tamarind

folds
it
leaves
every
night
and
the
mimosa,

even
in
perpetual
darkness,
opens
and
shuts

with
the
sun.


The
heart,
Graham
explains,
is
patient,
in
sympathy
with
natural
process,
well
aware

(as
Rilke
knew)
that
"everything
unfolds,"
including
the
self.


It
is
moved
by
such
delays:

cat's
eyes
open
at
six,
african
marigolds,
lilies

at
seven,
at
eight
the
passionflower.


For
Graham,
the
"correspondences"
of
heart
and
nature
are
precise;
the
heart's

growth,
the
coming
into
bloom
of
the
natural
world
are
homologies,
sharing
a

common
bestiary,
transpiring
in
a
shared
geography.
The
heart's
"light
awaits
the

souls
of
the
living";
its
"birds"
long
"for
the
branches
to
unfold
in
song";


the
end
of
its
year
awaits
each
noon
the
opening

of
the
chicory
of
the
meadow,
and
its
meadows

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
55


imagine
other
sleepless
flower
beds.


Seen
in
time‐lapse,
taken
to
heart,
the
blossoming,
the
metamorphosis
which

dominant
the
scene
satisfy
her
need
for
the
miraculous,
replace
the
need
for
the

supernatural.


If
there
is
another
world,
then
this
is
it:

the
real,
the
virtual,
the
butterfly

over
the
evening
primrose.


In
a
June
13,
1871
journal
entry,
Hopkins
would
note


The
Horned
Violet
is
a
pretty
thing,
gracefully
lashed.
Even
in
withering
the

flower
ran
through
beautiful
inscapes
by
the
strewing
up
of
the
petals
into

straight
little
barrels
or
tubes.
It
is
not
that
inscape
does
not
govern
the

behavior
of
things
in
slack
and
decay
as
one
can
see
even
in
the
pining
of
the

skin
of
the
old
and
even
in
a
skeleton
but
that
horror
possesses
the
mind,
but

in
this
case
there
was
nothing
in
itself
to
show
whether
the
flower
were

shutting
or
opening.


C o n c lu sio n :
T h e 
N e w 
P h u sis


True
imagination
actually
"sees"
the
"subtle"
processes
of
nature
and
their
angelic

prototypes.
It
is
the
capability
to
reproduce
in
oneself
the
cosmogenic
unfolding,
the

permanent
creation
of
the
world.
.
.
.

Maurice
Aniane


"To
perceive
consists
in
condensing
enormous
periods
of
an
infinitely
diluted

existence
into
a
few
moments
of
an
intensive
life,
and
in
the
summing
up
of
a
very

long
history,"
wrote
Henri
Bergson
at
the
beginning
of
this
century
(in
Matter
and

Memory,
1911).
"To
perceive,"
Bergson
concludes,
thinking
of
the
Western
mind‐set

under
the
auspices
of
science,
"means
to
immobilize."
Elsewhere
(in
Creative

Evolution)
the
French
philosopher
had
wondered
aloud
why
another
alternative
kind

of
perception
did
not
evolve:


The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
56


parallel
to
this
physics
[in
which
perception
immobilizes
the
world‐in‐
process],
a
second
kind
of
knowledge
ought
to
have
grown
up,
which
could

have
retained
what
physics
allowed
to
escape.
On
the
flux
of
duration
science

neither
would
nor
could
lay
hold,
bound
as
it
was
to
the
cinematographical

method.


Bergson
goes
on
to
imagine
for
us
what
this
"second
kind
of
knowledge,"
free

from
the
tendency
to
dissect
the
world
into
frames
of
thought,
conscious
instead
of

the
"absolute
flow
of
becoming,"
might
have
been
like:


It
would
have
called
upon
the
mind
to
renounce
its
most
cherished
habits.
It

is
within
becoming
that
it
would
have
transported
us
by
an
effort
of

sympathy.
We
should
no
longer
be
asking
where
a
moving
body
will
be,
what

shape
a
system
will
take,
through
what
state
a
change
will
pass
at
a
given

moment;
the
moments
of
time,
which
are
only
arrests
of
our
attention
would

no
longer
exist;
it
is
the
flow
of
time,
it
is
the
very
flux
of
the
real
that
we

should
be
trying
to
follow.


Our
normal
knowledge
of
the
world,
Bergson
observes,
allows
us
to
be
"in

some
measure
masters
of
events"
(a
fact
which
Nietzsche
comprehended
as
well);
it

allows
the
world
to
be
manipulated,
to
be
used
as
an
instrument
of
human
action.

But
we
pay
a
price
for
this
increase
in
power,
for
our
ordinary
knowledge
"retains
of

the
moving
reality
only
eventual
immobilities,
that
is
to
say,
views
taken
of
it

["snapshots,"
as
Bergson
was
fond
of
calling
such
excerpts]
by
our
mind.
It

symbolizes
the
real
and
transposes
it
into
the
human
rather
than
expresses
it."

The
"other
knowledge"
which
Bergson
imagines,
would,
in
stark
contrast,
be

"practically
useless";
would
not
"extend
our
empire
over
nature";
and
would
"even

go
against
certain
natural
aspirations
of
the
intellect."
It
would,
in
fact,
offer
no

advantage
to
an
evolving
being
but
one:
the
perception
of
"reality
itself
.
.
.
in
a
firm

and
final
embrace."
Completing
the
rational
intellect
by
"install[ing]
itself
within
the

moving,"
it
would
"open
a
perspective
on
the
other
half
of
the
real."

Does
not
time‐lapse
photography,
paradoxically
enough,
offer
us,
through
use

of
a
"cinematographical
method,"
a
glimpse
of
what
it
might
be
like
to
experience

nature
through
this
anti‐cinematographical
"second
kind
of
knowledge"
for
which

Bergson
longed?
Whatever
the
technological
basis
for
time‐lapse
photography,
our

The
Collected
Works
of
David
Lavery
57


experience
of
it
would
certainly
seem
to
be
phenomenologically
close
to
this

sympathetic
vision
of
becoming.
It
is
as
if
evolution
were
once
again
an
experience

for
us
and
not
merely
a
theory:
it
is
as
if
time‐lapse
photography
offers
us
our
initial

lessons
in
"exact,
concrete,
imagination."
"In
biology
and
in
geology,"
writes
the

historian
of
religions
Schwaller
de
Lubicz,
"Time
[under
the
hegemony
of
modern

science]
is
made
to
intervene
as
the
factor
measuring
evolution,
when
in
reality,

Time
is
this
evolution"
(91).
Does
not
the
world
seen
in
time‐lapse
hint
of
this

ultimate,
yet
forgotten,
wisdom?

In
the
"true
metaphors"
of
time‐lapse
photography's
visual
poetry
we
again

see
phusis,
again
quicken
into
life
the
forgotten
relationship
between
the
mind
of

man
and
the
"absolute
flow
of
becoming"
of
which
he,
his
imagination,
and
his

poetry
are
both
the
momentary
expression
and
the
only
means
of
revelation.
Time‐
lapse
photography
reminds
us
that
we
are
momentous
beings.