The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

14 May 2004

Time compression

Vent #226 (Christmas 2000) begins this way:

The late musicologist and audiophile Edward Tatnall Canby used to say that the length of your perceived memories is a constant, that as you get older the years get closer and closer together, like the calibrations on a VU meter as the volume — as your volume — diminishes into inaudibility.

Which may or may not explain this phenomenon:

"The Breakfast Club". Yes, the movie. We've all seen it. Brian and his soup. I distinctly heard a ruckus. Molière really pumps my 'nads. You remember. It was released in 1985.

There is a brief scene in "The Breakfast Club" where Judd Nelson's character, the stoner earring guy, mimics the signature riff from Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love". He knew it, we knew it; he dug the song, we dug the song.

Which brings me to "Disraeli Gears", the Cream record where that song first appeared. It was released in 1967.

The distance between "The Breakfast Club" and today is about 19 years, give or take the vagaries of release dates and premier venues and such. The distance between "The Breakfast Club" and "Disraeli Gears" is about 18 years.

We are farther from Judd Nelson's stoner earring guy than he was from Cream's first record.

Disraeli Gears was in fact the second Cream album, but the point stands: the calibrations on our individual memory clocks do not necessarily reflect exact chronological time as the scientists know it.

Phil Dennison is similarly amazed:

[T]he first rock record I ever purchased was Get The Knack. That album came out in 1979 — 25 years ago! The Knack's biggest song, "My Sharona," enjoyed a bried resurgence in popularity in the Gen-X film Reality Bites. That movie, believe it or not, is already 10 years old. So we've already achieved 67% of the distance from Reality Bites that it had over "My Sharona."

One of the Office Babes is named Denise, and she was not around when Randy and the Rainbows sang about someone of that name way back in 1963. I ripped the 45 and installed it as an MP3 at work; she was amused by the song, and surprised that it was over with in a brief two minutes. I wonder if her dad remembers it, and whether he'll feel like he was hit with a ton of bricks when he realizes it's 41 years old, most of his lifetime — and twice hers.

Posted at 7:43 AM to General Disinterest

TrackBacks if any:

» Time Compression from Patterico's Pontifications
Interesting post by Charles Hill on time compression -- the concept that "as you get older the years get closer and closer together." Charles quotes another blog called Perfidy, which makes this point: "The Breakfast Club". Yes, the movie. We've......[read more]
Tracked: May 15, 2004 12:45 PM

» Pop Culture Events Closer Toward Infinity from Dust in the Light
Charles Hill highlights some instances in which moments in pop culture act as perspective markers in time: The late musicologist and audiophile Edward Tatnall Canby used to say that the length of your perceived memories is a constant, that as......[read more]
Tracked: May 15, 2004 02:56 PM



Wow -- this is something that often freaks me out. For instance -- realizing that David Bowie's biggest commercial success ("Let's Dance") is now farther away from NOW than his Let's Dance success is from his initial commercial success.

As one example. There are others, as I'm sure you're all too aware, Charles.

Posted by: David at 8:33 PM on 14 May 2004

I thought I was the only one to do these kinds of things. I do it all the time, in fact, in order to freak my friends out. F'rinstance: Catcher in the Rye is closer, chronologically speaking, to the 19th century than to the 21st.

M*A*S*H (the movie) is closer to The Wizard of Oz than it is to the recently released Troy.

It's frightening, really. Which is why people often ask me to stop it.

Posted by: Jeff G at 10:42 PM on 15 May 2004

Remember when "1984," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Jonah Will Be 25 in the Year 2000" were all in the future?

Without looking up exact dates, I can tell you that "My Dinner with Andre" marks roughly the halfway mark between the Go-Go Sixties and the Torture-and-Beheading Now. Actually, it makes perfect sense.

Posted by: Debbie Galant at 11:49 PM on 15 May 2004