The Machinery of Time

Direct link to video on Vimeo.

A flash-fiction videopoem featuring the hands of my niece Elanor and members of her plastic entourage. The depressing subject matter might have something to do with the fact that I had just seen the documentary Gasland (highly recommended, by the way). And in fact, my preferred style of videopoem-making borrows heavily from documentaries, relying as it does on discovery rather than invention (e.g. actors following a script), and using voice-over narration to convey the text of the poem.

The Machinery of Time

The time machine was our only answer to the apocalypse we’d set in motion. Some chose to travel 10 million years into the future, by which time, they figured, new multicellular organisms would’ve evolved. Others of us decided to go back & try to change history. Someone thought she could help Carthage win the Punic Wars. Someone else wanted to insert a fable about hubris into the Homeric epic. But the backwards travel unraveled us, thinned us out & made us ineligible for death. We appeared only in mirrors, or to people with second sight, provoking fresh terror at a haunted world. When after millennia of helplessness we reached our own birthdays, we crumbled like the pages of a burnt book.


That’s about the maximum length for the text of a one-minute videopoem, by the way. I had to cut out a few phrases and read more quickly than usual to fit it in. Still, after almost three years of writing for the world’s tiniest daily newspaper, The Morning Porch, one minute seems like more than enough time to get an idea across. The above text would fill five tweets.

2 Replies to “The Machinery of Time”

  1. I like the hands placing those people as those time travelers might think they could control events. “But the backwards travel unraveled us, thinned us out & made us ineligible for death” reminds me of “The Threads of Time” by CJ Cherryh. (I just had my students read it so it’s fresh on my mind.)

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