Watching The Clock precisely engenders this experience where time is not conceived as simply “now-points” on a linear continuum, but is stretched between past and future, a past that provides the ground for making meaning of the present and a future that we do not merely wait for but anxiously anticipate. Time is something we must live. In anticipating the next frame, we have something like the experience of anticipating our own life’s “next frame,” which will ultimately end in the final frame of our own death. Precisely by using so many images of the “everyday,” Marclay uncovers the “truth” of the everyday, that it is mostly an inauthentic veil that covers over the fact of our freedom, our life, our death. Through watching “The Clock,” we gain some insight into what it means to resolutely “be” towards death, not fleeing death by rushing into the everyday hustle-bustle of existence, an existence which is obsessed with checking “the time,” but by authentically facing our own Being, our own Time, and in this way, the truth of our own selves as unique, alive, and free.
We are unavoidably caught up in Being and Time, “stretched along” between birth and death, thrown into our possibilities. Despite the possible fact of these other worlds, these other times, it the actuality of this world, this time that we are living. It is this clock that ticks, our clock. “The Clock” throws us back onto our own clocks, our own time, which is to say our own life and death. “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” “The Clock” ticks, tocks, and tolls for we. It is a knell that not only announces our march towards death, but our journey through life. The clock watches us just as much as we watch it, reminding us not only of our finitude and dependence, but our possibilities and our independence. The clock reminds us of the inevitability of our demise, but also the fact that we are free.
Do we watch the clock as a way of looking away from Time? Or when we look at time, do we uncover the truth of our own existence? The question then become not that we watch the clock, but how we watch “The Clock”?
Thumbnail image is from here.