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The Animation Pimp: Big Time Wrestling

How can we describe the now? Is it the space between "then" and "next," a tablecloth deftly pulled from beneath the cutlery?

And how can we describe the now? Is it the space between "then" and "next," a tablecloth deftly pulled from beneath the cutlery? Does the present last an instant, or a millisecond? Or is it only what we can make it out to be when we sit still and concentrate on it?"

                                                “Soul of the World” by Christopher Dewdney

You see, there is no time. There's just no time. I don't mean, "We're late, there's no time." I mean, there is no time. After all, when is it? Do you know? No one really knows when it is. We made the whole thing up. It's a human invention."

                                                George Carlin

It's a few days before the OIAF starts and I'm sitting here in the office banging out these words for a text that should have been finished months ago for a program that I started on years ago. I reel like I'm racing against time, but really it's only my time. No one but me dictates that this must be done. The program is just as well served without the text. You can see the films and figure it out for yourself. Besides, aren’t we really just here to fart around anyway? If I don’t feel like writing this then so be it. Still... it feels like I just haven't been able to find the time even though the time has always been there. It just wasn't here cause I was there. I don't make it easy on myself with this constant time sparring. Can't ever seem to be in the moment, too busy adrift memories and regrets of a past long gone no matter never mind and the antsy anticipation excitement terror of tomorrow. Why spend so much time musing over what has gone, what can never be changed and never will be again? Hell, are we even remembering the right past? Memory is nothing but a fiction. Why fret over a tomorrow that might never arrive? How do we find that present? What does the present even mean? Is it something we can ever really locate? Already my words above are in the past. All of this will be in the past when/if you read it. But that's me thinking in the future again instead of just focusing on THIS HERE NOW. Shit, that was gone before I finished the sentence. Now really has no use. It’s always changing. So, yes, when did I start pondering the idea of time? Maybe it was back in the 1990s when I was wrote about the films of animator Rene Jodoin whose films often attempted to visualize time. Maybe it was a few years later when I sat on the front porch staring at clouds. They looked so calm, restful, just flowing along with no concern where they were going, no thought to where they were. Maybe it was when I was lying on my back before a 10 hour surgery marveling at how I was about to be knocked out and would never experience these ten hours... then finding peace - actually relief - with the possibility that I might not even wake up again.  I thought of a scene in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters. Woody's character visits his parents. He asks his elderly father if he's afraid of dying. The father says something like "Why, I'll be unconscious!" I love that thought and it came back to me pre-surgery. In that moment I was perfectly at ease with the idea of my time ending. If I died, it would be the living's problem, not mine. Maybe it was while sitting in the lazy boy chair for four hours during chemo watching each drug drip taking its unsweet fucking time as it traveled towards my bloodstream to fight the poisonous bastard that was trying to suck my life away. I think it gets easier, this relationship with time, but maybe not. There are times when I am in that moment...if that moment means being at one with everything around you. Usually I experience that when I'm running, writing, super ill or even boxing. You are so intensely concentrated on the task at hand (e.g. vomiting during an illness) that past and present no longer exist, only the movements and breaths of your mind and body. Like now. Shit. Gone. William James or maybe it was Magic Johnson said that the present is "gone in an instant of becoming." Sometimes you find it, most days you don’t. It takes practice to be in the moment. It takes discipline. It takes a willingness to let go of the self. Where was I? I just left for a second and roamed around our building with my son then took a piss, so yeah...I'm trying but it’s hard...damn interrupted again by a colleague hard to find the moment when people keep getting in the way so let's get to the what and why?  I’ve been half ass pondering time for a long time now. Least a few years. I kept putting it off again and again because it’s a pretty vast and complex subject. Finally I decided that I could create a pretty decent animation screening of films that deal with time. Great. Good plan. Put it aside. Not enough time. Maybe next year. Next year being this year I decide enough is enough. Let’s do it. Plenty of time. I picked the films. But what to write? Why is nothing coming? That's when it hit me like Ray Rice. Sorry back in a sec. Ejected a dvd of the time films. yeah…so time... we spend a lot of time fighting time... pushed and pulled... Carlin says there is no time, but others say there are many times. There's individual times...regional times (EST, PST etc.)... cultural times. There's group time, biological time, metaphysical time, micro time, sync time, sacred time, meta time, Miller time, and my personal fucking favorite, profane time. There's even drug time. Holland 1998. I've just smoked some Dutch skunk. It's potent stuff. Don’t want to know what chemicals are in that stuff. Makes a mess out of me. Just want to run to the hotel and lose myself in Dutch TV. But then I'm there at the festival social spot where an animator friend has decided that this is the time to ask me what I thought of her film. It's like I'm in two time zones: physical and cerebral. I can feel myself split in two.... like part of me is in the control tower overseeing the physical me that is there in that club. We must appear normal. We speak and listen and speak and listen and pause and consider while inside we are freaking and sweating and sure that the friend notices what a mess we are. Hours pass. What? 10 minutes? Really? It seemed like an hour. That one sentence took at least 15 minutes to speak. Point being...yeah... there's a lot of times. Another time I went to this Italian animation festival. Most festivals break their screenings into 60-90 minute chunks. Not the Italians. They would show, say, three films from competition then switch to a retrospective and show a couple of films from that before moving onto a different retrospective and then returning to show 2-3 more films from the competition. First time I went I thought it was hilarious. Second time I went I was on a jury and it was maddening. You never knew when you had to be in the theatre. I complained. No one cared. More maddening. It was somewhat similar in Cyprus earlier this year. Must be a Mediterranean thing. But I was more at ease this time though cause I had realized - accepted?- that different types of time... different rhythms exist.... and that each time is true. This time. That time. Your time. My time. Dog's time. So... I dunno...here we are... well, no, here I am... well, at least an "I" of that moment...that "I" has passed now and will never be fixed ... except to you readers who will each read it in different times and spaces and define this momentary "I" as something fixed and permanent. You'll hold it against me and ask me what I was thinking in this moment that's gone. Even for me the "I" that begin this text has drifted into the past, barely known. See... I tried to tell you that this is complicated, messy stuff. Better people than me couldn't even wrap their arses around it: "What then is time?" asked St. Augustine. "If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know."

Yeah, that

Oh...I'd tell you about the films, but I gotta go... outta time... at least this time.

Playlist:

George Carlin: Time

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 2

Time Out

Secret Machine

Clock Cleaners

Revolver

Chris Robinson's picture

A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

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