Clock time versus Soul time

I have just read a book by a Dutch philosopher Joke Hermsen: “Silence the time – plea for a slow future”
In this book the author makes a distinction between “clock time and “soul time”. For that word “soul time” she gives many synonyms as used by other philosophers/writers: personal time, true time, the calm of the soul, the proper time, cosmic time. All as counterbalance for “clock time”.
The clock time that is making us run from appointment to appointment and feel hurried most of the time. That time that is absolutely useful in our organized era, but has its limitations when it shows up as the only guide in our life.
The “soul time” which gives us the opportunity to muse, to daydream, to be bored, do nothing and to imagine: often described as the prerequisite for creativity and the ability to innovate.

She describes how the search for more soul time is one of all ages.
Already in the period of the classical greek philosophers (Plato and Aristotle) people needed to be encouraged to rest and do nothing. It was said that rest and doing nothing were crucial conditions for culture and civilization.
The threat to soul time has changed over time, however. In our current time the biggest threat seems to be all our screens: computer, telephone, television, tablets, etc.
Computer has sort of “happened” to us. In stead of being of service sometimes the computer now takes the position of dictating what needs to be done: There is always still something to research, to connect, to work, to check, to do, to read etc.

Charlie Chaplin already made a movie about this in 1936:”Modern times”. This was an accusation against the industrial era. Chaplins’ humanity seems to be crushed by all the machines. Only at the end of this little video Chaplin gets some “soul time”. Little seems to have changed since then: we keep running and running.

charlieCharlie Chaplin: “We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity.”

I think we need both: clock time and soul time. How is your balance between both? Which needs more attention? How do you want to be with each of them?





Silence the (clock) time

A great poem as support to silence the clock time, if even for a moment:

It is late just like every year,
time is tight in its’ now,
today keeps on being gone
so switch on the light that shines into the future
break the bread that is not deaf yet,
make the language happen behind its’ characters
spell the meat, silence the time, live a little  –

Gerrit Kouwenaar
(from: A scent of burnt feathers, 1991)

For language lovers, here it is in Dutch (I boldly and amateurishly translated it myself: if you find better words, please let me know!)

Het is laat zoals ieder jaar,
De tijd zit krap in zijn heden,
Vandaag is steeds weer geweest
Steek dus het licht aan dat de toekomst nog uitspaart,
Spreek het brood aan dat nog niet doof is,
Maak de taal waar achter zijn tekens,
Spel het vlees, stil de tijd, leef nog even -

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