23 June 2008

clock time

I don't know whether it's the effect of the longest day or whether I am still recovering from being up all night last week, but my sense of time has been all awry this last week. It pays to have a good sense of time in this house. We do have clocks - but none of them work. The one on the mantelpiece has never worked, even when it had two hands. I have a watch, but I'm the only one who has - and half the time that is not on my wrist. There is a clock on the cooker, but it's not been put right since there was a power cut.

I had not thought about this much until I read a research piece in a collection of essays about women's careers. The author, Lotte Bailyn, quotes anthropologist Jules Henry "A man's time is bound from the moment he opens his eyes until he quits for the day. None of that time...is his own, because he has sold it to the job. Sold time is governed by fear. Time not so bound, time that is not sold, is free for empathy and love". Bailyn goes on to argue that as women move into the world of work "they face norms and practices that seem to conflict with the responsibilities and pleasures associated with an unbound, more subjective sense of time." Work patterns create barries to careers and difficulties in balancing work and personal lives. The alternative to so-called "clock time" has been called "social" or "natural" or "feminine" time - a more subjective time, geared to events rather than the clock, cyclical and "anchored in a logic of care".

Does any of that strike a chord? I'm not sure. I do know that when I lived in the country on a farm one winter, I used to be able to sleep for 12 hours from dusk till dawn (there was no electricity). That it's easier to get up in the summer when the sun's up. That I can gaze and day dream and get drawn into still life when I'm out of the office.

So when my son and I were chatting earlier, I asked him - he who can sleep for England, never wears a watch and is most reluctant to sell his time - what his views were. He told me that I was always too busy and never had enought time to enjoy the good things in life. "Like what?" I asked. "Well, when was the last time you did the washing up?"

Reader, I love that man-child.


j said...

I love that clock. that's my sort of clock.

as for Jules and Bailyn...and who got him up and off to work, fed and in a clean shirt, I'd like to know ;)

j said...

and as for your most charming son, I do agree...when we're in command of our own time, chores are pleasures. he is wise for one so young. (congratulations!)