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The Clock Ticks Sloth-like

The Clock Ticks Sloth-like


The Clock Ticks Sloth-like 

a fist full of words 


a bowl of pasta. a glass of crystal lite. a slice of chocolate cake. and 64mg of British American Tobacco colour my tongue. 

Sam Herring's voice flutters in the silence.

my taste for the Dionysian affect only sweetens with time. 

a house of ruin glistens in the distance.

Time Moves Slow when you're falling in love. 

And even slower when you're missing a friend. 

So sings Future Island's Sam Herring on BADBADNOTGOOD's classic Time Moves Slow released in 2016.

"Time moves slow

When you're all alone

And the time moves slow

When you're out on your own

And the time moves slow

When you're missing a friend

And the time moves slow

When you came to the end"


The hypnotic refrain grows in magnetism with every utterance, the effect of which draws the listener into Herring's voice, which, like a warm hug soothing the bitter bite of the outside air, invites us to rest our bones in its loving embrace. 

On  its surface, Herring's voice is but the sober companion of a brooding heart. 

Time moves slowly when we're on our own. Even slower in the absence of one once loved. And grinds to a halt when we've nowhere to go. Indeed, the clock ticks slowest in our moments of despair.

Who among us is uninitiated in the dizzying stillness of a world falling apart?

So, what to do? 

What heavens are to be known when hell is unending? 

Life is suffering after all, but peace does not begin with death - else chaos would rule the world; so whence do we begin to speak of love? 

At the heart of this conundrum is where the soul of the song unfurls; one lives and one suffers and then one comes to pass - or better yet, one lives as one suffers and loves because one lives. 

In consequence, life, love and suffering define the trinity most holy in our time

According to Buddhist revelation, there is a direct relationship between life and suffering. 

Man lives. Man suffers. 

Man suffers because man lives. 

But what to do about love? 

What does Herring know that we don't, and what's an overweight prophet got to do with it? 

The fact of life alone is sufficient cause for man to suffer. Man loves. Yes. But how, why, and when remain unanswered. Stranger still, is why Herring would place love indecipherable at the nexus of life and suffering. 

So what exactly is Herring telling us?

"Running away is (!) easy (because) the living is (fucking) hard."

When we're missing a friend, and we're all on our own, having come to the end: the clock ticks sloth-like. 

Time. Moves. Slow. 

The subtext of which reads

"The impression of temporal sluggishness is achieved through two means. The first of which is the apparent endlessness of heartbreak, loneliness, or desertion of any kind. The second is through concerted reflection - or meditation as it is popularly known. At either pole man experiences time as still and within this stillness awakens to the revelation that life is suffering, as the Buddha did over 2000 years ago. And just like the Buddha emerging from under the Bodhi tree thousands of years ago, what Herring is telling us is more than that life is suffering, but that because life is suffering, man ought to commit himself to love. 

Now, if you're in any way familiar with Buddhism as it is understood in the Zeitgeist, this moment may bring you pause. It should. 

Most people today understand Buddhism to be a revelation of asceticism, apathy, and non-action. 

That is why some may be alarmed by the ongoing Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation in South East Asia. 

I would add that the plight of the Rohingya differs very little from that of Palestinian children —  they suffer not because of the religious revelation but at the hand of man's perniciousness. 

Without dwelling on the complexities of geopolitics, and who feels wronged by whom, what I wish to draw  attention to is not that the Buddha encourages one to be passive but rather to be fiercely engaged in the alleviation of suffering throughout the world by means of purifying oneself of the desires and aversions that produce attachment within and cause suffering throughout. 

In other words, gestures toward asceticism, apathy, and non-action are not necessarily wrong in Buddhism but do not in themselves encapsulate the concept of loving the world absent attachment, which is at the heart of the Buddhist revelation. 

Reflecting then for a moment, on Siddhartha's life, Herring's words take on a different tone. 

"Time moves slow

When you're all alone

(And even slower in the bliss of solitude)

And the time moves slow

When you're out on your own

(And even slower when you love without attachment)

And the time moves slow

When you're missing a friend

(And even slower in the moments that made that friendship possible)

And the time moves slow

When you came to the end

(And time moves slowest when awakened to the heart of the world)"

The loss of lovers and friends is inescapable, it is an inevitability of life. It comes as no surprise then that a man should find himself alone in his life at the least once, if not more frequently. 

The clock ticks sloth-like for the broken hearted.

Life is suffering after all. 

Yet how much slower for those who suffer in unison? 

What would it mean to suffer not on our own but within a chorus of voices that echo our own? 

What does it mean to lean into suffering, to choose to fall in love, when you're certain of the loss to come? 

Is this not but a vow to deepen one's own suffering?

Shan’t we call such a man insane? 

A dreamer who never lands? 

"But what was I to do?

Just couldn't help myself falling in love with you" 

Man loves not because he chooses to.

Man loves because he lives. 

He lives because he loves. 

Time stands still for such a man. 

And a man who can still the world, can steal it. 

Time moves slowest when we're falling in love, "Looking out, watching the leaves falling in"

Written by: Kukhanya Magubane


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