Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fathers and Time

Today is Sunday, 18 June 2006.

Herewith, in honour of Father’s Day, the beginning of John Cheever’s great novel, Bullet Park (1969). One of your author’s favourites, as is the first sentence.

“Paint me a small railroad station then, ten minutes before dark. Beyond the platform are the waters of the Wekonsett River, reflecting a somber afterglow. The architecture of the station is oddly informal, gloomy but unserious, and mostly resembling a pergola, cottage or summer house although this is a climate of harsh winters. The lamps along the platform burn with a nearly palpable plaintiveness. The setting seems in some way to be at the heart of the matter. We travel by plane, oftener than not, and yet the spirit of our country seems to have remained a country of railroads. You wake in a Pullman bedroom at three a.m. in a city the name of which you do not know and may never discover. A man stands on the platform with a child on his shoulders. They are waving goodbye to some traveler, but what is the child doing up so late and why is the man crying? On a siding beyond the platform there is a lighted dining car where a waiter sits alone at a table, adding up his accounts. Beyond this is a water tower and beyond this a well-lighted and empty street. Then you think happily that this is your country --- unique, mysterious and vast. One has no such feelings in airplanes, airports and the trains of other nations.”

Since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (founded by those who took part in the development of the atomic bomb) has featured the Doomsday Clock, which indicates their judgment of how near Earth is to nuclear destruction. The Clock was created at 7 minutes to midnight.

The Doomsday Clock has stood at 7 minutes to midnight since 2002.


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