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Now That’s Rich 6 - Time Travel

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Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah!

That’s all I hear everywhere I go and I’m sick of it. I turn on the TV and the only thing on is a messed up mix of endless talk about things that never are resolved and an equally endless string of “reality” shows bordering on soft-core porn. I’m so sick of North American ideals. I’m sick of the commercialism and the flooding of the airwaves with total useless crap. There’s no justification for the price I pay for cable for this mindless, demoralized garbage that spews from my little black box, and I’m not going to take it anymore.

CLICK

And now for something completely different. Something meaningful, something remotely intelligent, something that you and I can freely admit to caring about. People. When it comes down to it, in the end we care about them more than anything else. In the end, when all is said and done, when we’ve lost our jobs and our minds, we’ll still dependent on the people that we know, the people that we care for and the people that we love. I’ve discovered that however much society forces us to indulge in the flashing advertisements, the drugs, the sex, religion and violent hatred for each other, we still end up dissatisfied. There’s no substitute for the human experience. I’d even go so far as to say as we are privileged to experience all that we do. But in the end, when the sun withers out from beneath a clear blue sky and we are all left in darkness with only the excess of pollution splashing against our feet, would it be worth going back and doing it all again knowing that we’ll end up destroying ourselves? Just something to think about, I guess.

I can’t imagine there being a predetermined path in life for anyone. Life begins in accident, is lived in accident and ends in accident. There are only so many heartbeats your body can sustain. What’s important is what each of us does with the heartbeats that we’re given. As children our lives are determined by the decisions of others. As we grow older and shape our own future through the people we meet, the opportunities we stumble upon and ultimately the decisions that shape our everyday lives we should realize that others will feel even the most miniscule of influence that we wield over each other and this planet.

Hell, it makes me smile just thinking about how coincidentally life turns out due to the decisions we make. Just think about your own life and how things could have turned out differently if you would have said something to someone or gone with someone somewhere then you initially didn’t intend. In the end we have zero control over the events that unfold in life, but if given a chance on your deathbed to go back and change things, would you knowing that going back will most definitely leave the future that you’ve known so well altered? Just found this concept extremely interesting, theoretically as well as practically.

I had a nightmare about trying to go back in time. I had entered a deserted park in the middle of the day and stumbled upon a well that I had never noticed before. Intrigued, I cautiously walked up to it got on all fours and peered down into its never ending darkness. Without warning, the hole grew and engulfed me and I started falling. As I fell I felt my heart began beating strangely. My face became wet with perspiration. I placed my hand on my chest and felt my heart beat in reverse, slowly at first it gradually started beating faster and faster until I heard a low, loud explosion.

POM!

And that was almost the end. When my heart stopped beating, I had arrived somewhere in the past, at least I think it was the past. I ended up in a sterile white room, a hospital room by the looks of it, lying in a white bed, staring up towards an unfamiliar ceiling. I sat up, walked towards a smudged plastic window, and rubbed my hand against its surface to take a look outside. Outside was the park I had remembered but the people all wore peculiar clothing and threw long wooden spears at each other. The well still stood undisturbed. That was when I realized that my heart wasn’t beating. The place I was in shimmered and died leaving only me, the people in the park and the well. In anguish, I crawled slowly across the park. Just before reaching the well, I fell from exhaustion and was never heard from again.

It was an eerie dream connected by the strangest of circumstance and it taught me that time travel, though theoretically possible (at least in dreams) would only leave me alone and helpless. Going to the past would only change the present and the future. Speaking of which, can someone please tell me if recording the present time is at all possible? We have memories of the past that slowly fade with time and we always seek a hopeful future for ourselves, but is there a present time? When you began to read this paragraph for instance, that has “now” become the past. When you finish reading it that will be the future. Since time is always progressing forwards, is there then a present? Time forces us to move forwards so going back in time must then theoretically have a reverse heart beat explosion effect. It would be impossible to relive a moment since time forces you to always move forward. You won’t ever be able to go back to that same heart beat.

At any rate, that is just my wild imagination running loose on a leash.

There have been very few original time travel stories that have emerged in any media. The ones that I’ve found (and enjoyed immensely) are Robert J. Sawyer’s novel “Flashforward”, Terry Gilliam’s film “12 Monkeys” and lastly Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s “Days Of Future Past”.

Sawyer’s “Flashforward” is a neat, unique time travel story deemed worthy of a read. Its basic premise revolves around a scientific experiment at a prominent international research facility going as planned, when suddenly the unexpected happens. Everyone conscious blacks out. While they’re asleep everyone’s consciousness is tossed twenty years into the future. When they wake up they are changed by the foreknowledge that they have gained. The main set of characters begin to change, some living out their lives normally, others searching desperately to change a desperate future. I found this to be an extremely interesting twist on the traditional “but of course we can go through time with our sophistimacated machinery” concept. This book is great for those of you who want something different, something that’ll make you think about life and the way we live it as well as introduce you to alternative theories of time and space. It has convincing science elements to it, but isn’t overly technical about it making it a relative breeze to read through.

Terry Gilliam’s film “12 Monkeys” on the other hand is a vastly different, but thoughtful dissection of time travel. The story opens on a wasteland in the year 2035, where a dangerous plague has forced humans to take refuge underground. The main character who is played by Bruce Willis is a societal outcast who has been given the opportunity to erase his criminal record by volunteering to travel into the past to obtain a pure sample of the deadly virus that will help future scientists to develop a cure. Willis’s character ends up in different time periods from 1918 in the midst of the First World War to the early 1990s. While undergoing all these adjustments in his life, he forces himself to question the perceptions of reality. He’s caught between the dangers of the past and the devastation that the future will bring if he doesn’t do anything to prevent it. He encounters a psychiatrist that ends up helping him, and a mental patient with links to a radical animal rights group that may have unleashed the deadly virus that he is looking for. This inventive story is carried out with equally inventive dialogue, characters and technology making this one of the best science fiction movies of the 1990s. It’s well worth checking out. It’ll leave you thinking. But alas, I won’t reveal too much about the concepts in the movie. Suffice it to say, I left changed after my viewings.

That’s it for me this week. To end off I have brought on my guest writer who so happens to be my good friend and editor Graham to do his synopsis and include his opinion on “Days Of Future Past” which is coincidentally one of his favorite X-Men storylines.

Take it away Graham…

Thanks, Richard. “The Days Of Future Past” storyline was written by Chris Claremont, with the pencils done by the ever so impressive John Byrne. Together they crafted many fantastic X-Men stories, and this is no exception. The story begins in 2013, the distant future when it was written, and the Sentinels have taken over North America. All of the continent’s super powered beings have been killed, except for a small group in captivity, and an even smaller group of rebels. In a desperate attempt to change their bleak lives, the surviving X-Men formulate a plan to change their present. They will send the mind of Kate Pryde, the woman that Kitty “Shadow Cat” Pryde, will become into the body of her younger self in the past. Rachael Summers, a powerful telepath, uses her abilities and does just that. Kate tells the X-Men of her past, our present, and how to fix the future. I’ll leave it to you to read the storyline and figure out the ending. The dialogue can be a little forced at times, but that’s how comics were written in the 80s, and can easily be accepted with such a great plot. This was not the last time that the X-Men dabbled in time travel (see Bishop, Cable, and The Age Of Apocalypse), but “The Days Of Future Past” is the first, and arguably the best. And now back to your regularly scheduled writer…

Well, now that wasn’t so bad was it?

Have a good week and I’ll see you in two.

R.F.




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