Perception of time and space

All are welcome to read the following, but I’d like everyone in studio [400] to give it a good read. Leave any comments concerning use of time, writing style, etc.

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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man's hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the sleepers supporting the metals of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners—two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an officer in the uniform of his rank, armed. He was a captain. A sentinel at each end of the bridge stood with his rifle in the position known as “support,” that is to say, vertical in front of the left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight across the chest—a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it.

Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view. Doubtless there was an outpost farther along. The other bank of the stream was open ground—a gentle acclivity topped with a stockade of vertical tree trunks, loopholed for rifles, with a single embrasure through which protruded the muzzle of a brass cannon commanding the bridge. Midway of the slope between the bridge and fort were the spectators—a single company of infantry in line, at “parade rest,” the butts of the rifles on the ground, the barrels inclining slightly backward against the right shoulder, the hands crossed upon the stock. A lieu tenant stood at the right of the line, the point of his sword upon the ground, his left hand resting upon his right. Excepting the group of four at the center of the bridge, not a man moved. The company faced the bridge, staring stonily, motionless. The sentinels, facing the banks of the stream, might have been statues to adorn the bridge. The captain stood with folded arms, silent, observing the work of his subordinates, but making no sign. Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.

The man who was engaged in being hanged was apparently about thirty-five years of age. He was a civilian, if one might judge from his habit, which was that of a planter. His features were good—a straight nose, firm mouth, broad forehead, from which his long, dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the collar of his well-fitting frock coat. He wore a mustache and pointed beard, but no whiskers; his eyes were large and dark gray, and had a kindly expression which one would hardly have expected in one whose neck was in the hemp. Evidently this was no vulgar assassin. The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded.

The preparations being complete, the two private soldiers stepped aside and each drew away the plank upon which he had been standing. The sergeant turned to the captain, saluted and placed himself immediately behind that officer, who in turn moved apart one pace. These movements left the condemned man and the sergeant standing on the two ends of the same plank, which spanned three of the cross-ties of the bridge. The end upon which the civilian stood almost, but not quite, reached a fourth. This plank had been held in place by the weight of the captain; it was now held by that of the sergeant. At a signal from the former the latter would step aside, the plank would tilt and the condemned man go down between two ties. The arrangement commended itself to his judgment as simple and effective. His face had not been covered nor his eyes bandaged. He looked a moment at his “unsteadfast footing,” then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the stream racing madly beneath his feet. A piece of dancing driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down the current. How slowly it appeared to move, What a sluggish stream!

He closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children. The water, touched to gold by the early sun, the brooding mists under the banks at some distance down the stream, the fort, the soldiers, the piece of drift—all had distracted him. And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his dear ones was a sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith's hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality. He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or near by—it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each stroke with impatience and—he knew not why—apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer, the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch.

He unclosed his eyes and saw again the water below him. “If I could free my hands,” he thought, “I might throw off the noose and spring into the stream. By diving I could evade the bullets and, swimming vigorously, reach the bank, take to the woods and get away home. My home, thank God, is as yet outside their lines; my wife and little ones are still beyond the invader's farthest advance.”

As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man’s brain rather than evolved from it the captain nodded to the sergeant. The sergeant stepped aside.


Peyton Farquhar was a well-to-do planter, of an old and highly respected Alabama family. Being a slave owner and like other slave owners a politician he was naturally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the Southern cause. Circumstances of an imperious nature, which it is unnecessary to relate here, had prevented him from taking service with the gallant army that had fought the disastrous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth, and he chafed under the inglorious restraint, longing for the release of his energies, the larger life of the soldier, the opportunity for distinction. That opportunity, he felt, would come, as it comes to all in war time. Meanwhile he did what he could. No service was too humble for him to perform in aid of the South, no adventure too perilous for him to undertake if consistent with the character of a civilian who was at heart a soldier, and who in good faith and without too much qualification assented to at least a part of the frankly villainous dictum that all is fair in love and war.

One evening while Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a gray-clad soldier rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water. Mrs. Farquhar was only toe, happy to serve him with her own white hands. While she was fetching the water her husband approached the dusty horseman and inquired eagerly for news from the front.

“The Yanks are repairing the railroads,” said the man, “and are getting ready for another advance. They have reached the Owl Creek bridge, put it in order and built a stockade on the north bank. The commandant has issued an order, which is posted everywhere, declaring that any civilian caught interfering with the railroad, its bridges, tunnels or trains will be summarily hanged. I saw the order.”

“How far is it to the Owl Creek bridge?” Farquhar asked.

“About thirty miles.”

“Is there no force on this side the creek?”

“Only a picket post half a mile out, on the railroad, and a single sentinel at this end of the bridge.”

“Suppose a man—a civilian and student of hanging—should elude the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel,” said Farquhar, smiling, “what could he accomplish?”

The soldier reflected. “I was there a month ago,” he replied. “I observed that the flood of last winter had lodged a great quantity of driftwood against the wooden pier at this end of the bridge. It is now dry and would burn like tow.”

The lady had now brought the water, which the soldier drank. He thanked her ceremoniously, bowed to her husband and rode away. An hour later, after nightfall, he repassed the plantation, going northward in the direction from which he had come. He was a Federal scout.


As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened—ages later, it seemed to him—by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation. Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward through every fiber of his body and limbs. These pains appeared to flash along well-defined lines of ramification and to beat with an inconceivably rapid periodicity. They seemed like streams of pulsating fire heating him to an intolerable temperature. As to his head, he was conscious of nothing but a feeling of fulness—of congestion. These sensations were unaccompanied by thought. The intellectual part of his nature was already effaced; he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment. He was conscious of motion. Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum. Then all at once, with terrible suddenness, the light about him shot upward with the noise of a loud splash; a frightful roaring was in his ears, and all was cold and dark. The power of thought was restored; he knew that the rope had broken and he had fallen into the stream. There was no additional strangulation; the noose about his neck was already suffocating him and kept the water from his lungs. To die of hanging at the bottom of a river!--the idea seemed to him ludicrous. He opened his eyes in the darkness and saw above him a gleam of light, but how distant, how inaccessible! He was still sinking, for the light became fainter and fainter until it was a mere glimmer. Then it began to grow and brighten, and he knew that he was rising toward the surface—knew it with reluctance, for he was now very comfortable. “To be hanged and drowned,” he thought? “that is not so bad; but I do not wish to be shot. No; I will not be shot; that is not fair.”

He was not conscious of an effort, but a sharp pain in his wrist apprised him that he was trying to free his hands. He gave the struggle his attention, as an idler might observe the feat of a juggler, without interest in the outcome. What splendid effort!—what magnificent, what superhuman strength! Ah, that was a fine endeavor! Bravo! The cord fell away; his arms parted and floated upward, the hands dimly seen on each side in the growing light. He watched them with a new interest as first one and then the other pounced upon the noose at his neck. They tore it away and thrust it fiercely aside, its undulations resembling those of a water snake. “Put it back, put it back!” He thought he shouted these words to his hands, for the undoing of the noose had been succeeded by the direst pang that he had yet experienced. His neck ached horribly; his brain was on fire; his heart, which had been fluttering faintly, gave a great leap, trying to force itself out at his mouth. His whole body was racked and wrenched with an insupportable anguish! But his disobedient hands gave no heed to the command. They beat the water vigorously with quick, downward strokes, forcing him to the surface. He felt his head emerge; his eyes were blinded by the sunlight; his chest expanded convulsively, and with a supreme and crowning agony his lungs engulfed a great draught of air, which instantly he expelled in a shriek!

He was now in full possession of his physical senses. They were, indeed, preternaturally keen and alert. Something in the awful disturbance of his organic system had so exalted and refined them that they made record of things never before perceived. He felt the ripples upon his face and heard their separate sounds as they struck. He looked at the forest on the bank of the stream, saw the individual trees, the leaves and the veining of each leaf—saw the very insects upon them: the locusts, the brilliant-bodied flies, the grey spiders stretching their webs from twig to twig. He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass. The humming of the gnats that danced above the eddies of the stream, the beating of the dragon flies' wings, the strokes of the water-spiders' legs, like oars which had lifted their boat—all these made audible music. A fish slid along beneath his eyes and he heard the rush of its body parting the water.

He had come to the surface facing down the stream; in a moment the visible world seemed to wheel slowly round, himself the pivotal point, and he saw the bridge, the fort, the soldiers upon the bridge, the captain, the sergeant, the two privates, his executioners. They were in silhouette against the blue sky. They shouted and gesticulated, pointing at him. The captain had drawn his pistol, but did not fire; the others were unarmed. Their movements were grotesque and horrible, their forms gigantic.

Suddenly he heard a sharp report and something struck the water smartly within a few inches of his head, spattering his face with spray. He heard a second report, and saw one of the sentinels with his rifle at his shoulder, a light cloud of blue smoke rising from the muzzle. The man in the water saw the eye of the man on the bridge gazing into his own through the sights of the rifle. He observed that it was a grey eye and remembered having read that grey eyes were keenest, and that all famous marksmen had them. Nevertheless, this one had missed.

A counter-swirl had caught Farquhar and turned him half round; he was again looking into the forest on the bank opposite the fort. The sound of a clear, high voice in a monotonous singsong now rang out behind him and came across the water with a distinctness that pierced and subdued all other sounds, even the beating of the ripples in his ears. Although no soldier, he had frequented camps enough to know the dread significance of that deliberate, drawling, aspirated chant; the lieu. tenant on shore was taking a part in the morning's work. How coldly and pitilessly--with what an even, calm intonation, presaging, and enforcing tranquillity in the men—with what accurately measured inter vals fell those cruel words:

“Attention, company! . . Shoulder arms! . . . Ready! . . . Aim! . . . Fire!”

Farquhar dived—dived as deeply as he could. The water roared in his ears like the voice of Niagara, yet he heard the dulled thunder of the volley and, rising again toward the surface, met shining bits of metal, singularly flattened, oscillating slowly downward. Some of them touched him on the face and hands, then fell away, continuing their descent. One lodged between his collar and neck; it was uncomfortably warm and he snatched it out.

As he rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he saw that he had been a long time under water; he was perceptibly farther down stream nearer to safety. The soldiers had almost finished reloading; the metal ramrods flashed all at once in the sunshine as they were drawn from the barrels, turned in the air, and thrust into their sockets. The two sentinels fired again, independently and ineffectually.

The hunted man saw all this over his shoulder; he was now swimming vigorously with the current. His brain was as energetic as his arms and legs; he thought with the rapidity of lightning.

“The officer,” he reasoned, “will not make that martinet's error a second time. It is as easy to dodge a volley as a single shot. He has probably already given the command to fire at will. God help me, I cannot dodge them all!”

An appalling plash within two yards of him was followed by a loud, rushing sound, diminuendo, which seemed to travel back through the air to the fort and died in an explosion which stirred the very river to its deeps!

A rising sheet of water curved over him, fell down upon him, blinded him, strangled him! The cannon had taken a hand in the game. As he shook his head free from the commotion of the smitten water he heard the deflected shot humming through the air ahead, and in an instant it was cracking and smashing the branches in the forest beyond.

"They will not do that again," he thought; "the next time they will use a charge of grape. I must keep my eye upon the gun; the smoke will apprise me—the report arrives too late; it lags behind the missile. That is a good gun."

Suddenly he felt himself whirled round and round—spinning like a top. The water, the banks, the forests, the now distant bridge, fort and men—all were commingled and blurred. Objects were represented by their colors only; circular horizontal streaks of color—that was all he saw. He had been caught in a vortex and was being whirled on with a velocity of advance and gyration that made him giddy and sick. In a few moments he was flung upon the gravel at the foot of the left bank of the stream—the southern bank—and behind a projecting point which concealed him from his enemies. The sudden arrest of his motion, the abrasion of one of his hands on the gravel, restored him, and he wept with delight. He dug his fingers into the sand, threw it over himself in handfuls and audibly blessed it. It looked like diamonds, rubies, emeralds; he could think of nothing beautiful which it did not resemble. The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms. A strange, roseate light shone through the spaces among their trunks and the wind made in their branches the music of Æolian harps. He had no wish to perfect his escape—was content to remain in that enchanting spot until retaken.

A whiz and rattle of grapeshot among the branches high above his head roused him from his dream. The baffled cannoneer had fired him a random farewell. He sprang to his feet, rushed up the sloping bank, and plunged into the forest.

All that day he traveled, laying his course by the rounding sun. The forest seemed interminable; nowhere did he discover a break in it, not even a woodman's road. He had not known that he lived in so wild a region. There was something uncanny in the revelation.

By nightfall he was fatigued, footsore, famishing. The thought of his wife and children urged him on. At last he found a road which led him in what he knew to be the right direction. It was as wide and straight as a city street, yet it seemed untraveled. No fields bordered it, no dwelling anywhere. Not so much as the barking of a dog suggested human habitation. The black bodies of the trees formed a straight wall on both sides, terminating on the horizon in a point, like a diagram in a lesson in perspective. Overhead, as he looked up through this rift in the wood, shone great garden stars looking unfamiliar and grouped in strange constellations. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign significance. The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which—once, twice, and again—he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue.

His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the rope had bruised it. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them. His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air. How softly the turf had carpeted the untraveled avenue—he could no longer feel the roadway beneath his feet!

Doubtless, despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, for now he sees another scene—perhaps he has merely recovered from a delirium. He stands at the gate of his own home. All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. He must have traveled the entire night. As he pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk, he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forward with extended arms. As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon—then all is darkness and silence!

Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.

posted by Tony Brock on January 11, 2005 | comments: 12 | post a comment

Peyton Farquhar is trapped by circumstances which stand in the way of his happiness. We empathize with the enemy, the farmer-slave owner, because he values family. We are led into the detail of his genuine struggle and rebirth for most of the story. His efforts to abolish these obstacles, like the Yankees, is met by a combined force greater than his own. He has grown in life but not in strategy. His act of returning to his homestead to be with the family that he loves earns him death. Love is irrational.

Posted by ANNAW on January 12, 2005 01:48 AM

His struggle is lengthy and painful to follow, though to him it might not seem as such.
Mr. Farquhar escapes his deathly hanging and dodges the gunshots and seeks to return home, when in the end he dies a peaceful death. Death causes sorrow and grief to the living, yet the dying soul is freed. No victory can be proclaimed, soldiers act upon their orders, rifles perform their duty, officers supervise the mission, yet in the end we return to nature and bow to the earth we are made of.
This story tells of life and how in the end, the peace will be restored.

Posted by carolin on January 12, 2005 05:33 AM

To have the ability to shift forward in time, creating therefore a time nested in reality, and then to move through space in that newly created time, touching, smelling, hearing... this we are able to do within our mind. Mr. Farquhar developed a new space and a new time in which he was able to live out the last moments of his life. This new time can be engineered into any any increment. Mr. Farquhar's new time was able to hold as much as 5 hours of events in a real-time space of no longer than 2 minutes. In this time he was happy. He achieved his goal of returning to the one he loved. This time could theoretically go on for as long as you have deemed possible. But only in your newly developed time and space. Natural time we have no control over. We can not slow this down nor speed it up. We create moments in false time and space which can actually hold our timeline to date. Within this we are able to freely move about from moment to moment, juxtaposing what happened 10 years ago next to what happened 10 minutes ago.

Mr. Furquhar reached his goal then abruptly returned to the natural time, which sadly contained his last breath.

Posted by Alex F on January 12, 2005 02:52 PM

At one time or another we have probably all thought about the ending of our lives. How many years from now, under what circumstances. But what if we do not end our lives the way we want? What if we are heading into the last moments of our lives and have not fulfulled a hope, or dream, desire, goal in life? What then? Do we fall into an imaginary universe of false perception and time where we do complete these tasks, so that we can die in peace? Is that what its about then—as long as we've finished our to do list on this world, only then are we fully able to move on to the next? Surprisingly, Mr. Farquhar's last dying moments reflect aspects of our every day lives. When we close out one chapter of our life to begin another, do we not try to tie up any loose ends? Or do these types of reconciliation only happen at the end of our lives like that of Mr Farquhar?

Posted by L!oLL!o on January 12, 2005 06:33 PM

I found this story to be a very good example showing the various ways time can be portrayed. There is of course the general progression of real time shown through Farquhar's hanging. Then, as others mentioned, the idea of time that only exists in the mind like daydreams and Farquhar's visions of the end of his life that infact never occured in reality. There is also the idea of flashbacks to a time that exists in the past. In the second part of this story it uses this type of time as an explaination of how Faruhar got in the position that he is in and more details on when and where the story takes place. I find using combinations of these perceptions of time in a story makes it so much stronger and heightens the readers involvement in the narrative.

Posted by Colleen on January 12, 2005 08:31 PM

Back in highschool I met this story with great displeasure in its disturbing pessimism. But now all I can say is 'man, where's the film adaption for that one?' If the flow of consciousness can be expressed well in the medium of film, as it was in Eternal Sunshine, I'd love to see how this one would be interpreted in all of its detail.

Posted by D-cal (formerly known as Daniel C) on January 13, 2005 03:41 AM

it didn't occur to me until this afternoon that the story in real time ends at the removal of the planks. I had to reread and reassess before truly understanding. Alex F—thank you for such meaningful commentary, you helped me lift the curtain...

Posted by carolin on January 13, 2005 03:49 AM

This story brings up this "life flashes before your eyes" theory that I have always wondered about. The elements of real time and this dream/fantasy type state that occurs as Mr. Farquhar (really) dies reminded me somewhat of the end of the movie "Taxi Driver" (1976). When the Travis Bickle character (Robert De Niro) dies at the end of the film due to severe gunshot wounds, this fantasy of what could have happened plays out whatever dreams or imaginings he had left. There are newspaper clippings on Bickle's apartment wall which praise his efforts of saving this young prostitute from gangsters. This fantasy also shows Travis back at his job driving the taxi. In fact he picks up a woman who had dumped him (so to speak) earlier in the film when he had tried to date her. But now she is attracted to Travis due to his "saving a young girl story." This is all highly improbable of course but it plays out convincingly as the last thoughts (images) of a dying man.

It seems that Mr. Farquhar goes through a similar process as he dies. When the planks are removed the real time has ended and the temporary fantasy (dream state) begins. In this fantasy state Mr. Farquhar is able to go home and see the woman he loves. Since these are his dying thoughts this improbability is made possible and time is suddenly on Mr. Farquhar's side. At least for a while.

Posted by Miles on January 14, 2005 05:13 AM

Its interesting to consider our perception of time seems to slow down in our mind as we go through intense moments in our lives. When I was eleven years old I remember hitting my first homerun ever in baseball. Perhaps to the rest of the crowd, players, and other attendees of that game the homerun was only a few seconds (and it was), but I remember the ball slowly floating over the fence and trotting to first base over a span of thirty seconds or so. I was in the moment, and as a result time almost seemed to slow down, but only for me. Adrenaline was rushing in my blood, my heartrate was higher than usual, and as a result the overflow of chemicals produced from these actions in my brain affected my perception of time versus how fast things were really moving. That goes back to the idea that time is perceived differently from person to person, depending on the special circumstances those persons are experiencing at the time. Mr. Farquhar certainly qualifies for these types of circumstances in this story, and as a result the same chain of chemical reactions and other influences probably attirbuted to his false fantasy world of time as his life came to an end.

Posted by L!oLL!o on January 14, 2005 05:08 PM

Time is a human conception that is inherently relative. Increments exist because of our need to understand and lend meaning to something that is not concrete. For all we know 'real time' is may be more closely related to our perceptive time. Or rather, what if 'real time' was more similar to 'dream time' where events depending on emotional association are faster or slower?

Posted by Kim on January 17, 2005 09:32 PM

This reminds me of a movie I saw many years ago titled Jacob’s Ladder where a Vietnam war vet who was drugged up in Vietnam by the military comes home only to be chased and haunted by strange faceless creatures. These creatures want him to “give up.” This part of the movie where he resists “giving up” lasts quite a long time in the story, it was something like weeks or months, I can’t remember though, I saw the movie 15 years ago. Finally when he does “give up” it takes him back to a sick bed in a Vietnam military hospital where he dies. I remember not being able to make much sense of the film because it was not very clear which was fiction and which was reality, but this lack of clarification kept me interested in the movie for months.

This is one reason that this story is also very interesting to me. There is not quite a clear distinction between reality and fiction. Either could be true and either could be false. If that final line was omitted or another line added, our understanding could change completely. What if this was the dream of another in which Mr. Farquhar was a mergence of the dreamer and another whom the dreamer once saw? If lines were added to the end how would the reader interpret the triple disjunction in time? Does this add interest to the story or does it confuse the reader?

I recently saw another movie where time is very non-sequential, symbolic and almost hyper-textually based. The movie was title Prospero’s Books. People who also saw it last semester, please don’t knock the film because you didn’t spend enough time with it. This movie is very indecipherable if you don’t first, know the story of The Tempest well, second, aren’t trying to decode the symbolic meanings, third, aren’t willing to watch the film a few times and fourth, are offended by lots of nudity. I thought the movie was brilliant; I had to reread a synopsis of the Tempest first and had to watch the movie twice before I figured out what was going on. But the movie is all about how to portray different events, occurrences and characters in very non-traditional ways. It is almost as if Peter Greenaway (the creator) asked what would an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Tempest look like if it was conceived of in a hyper textual manner? This film has an incredible conception of time. There are four to five embedded narratives, which at different points interact with each other, and then there are also different depictions of cyclical and parallel time. There are many time– and space–distortion in this film which is one aspect that I think adds quite a lot to the story. The reason I am mentioning this is because I think different portrayals and conceptions of time can be a really great tool that we as designers can use in creating work.

One final mention there is this music video I think it is called sugar water by chibo matto and the video is by michel goundry. This video spun my head around in thinking about time. The screen is split down the middle, on one side there is a girl who is moving forward in time, on the other side there is a girl moving backward in time. The video keeps on playing, and they go on with their lives in forward or reverse, until one point in the video where they seamlessly meet. At this point it is impossible to make any sense of time, because they are both moving in one frame, in one shot in one time, but one is in reverse and one is in forward, so which is it? Then as the video progresses, both girls interact with items left by the other girl, the girl moving forwards in time finds stuff that the girl moving backwards in time left behind, and the girl moving backwards in time finds a package left for her by the girl moving forwards in time. I love that video and maybe tony can let us watch it in class tomorrow. Sorry to restate what I said before, I think how we depict time and how we draw the line between fantasy, fiction and reality can be a powerful tool that we use in creating interactive narratives.

Posted by Jon on January 18, 2005 03:04 AM

“Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek Bridge.”

Owl Creek Bridge? He walked through the woods, the road and stood right outside his house… How is it possible? Did he really travel in real time? As Alex and others mentioned it was his soul/mind that traveled through time and space, which wasn’t real. His hope, and love towards his family made his journey possible after his death. In his journey, he looked at everything with a renewed breath of life. As a reader, I take lot of things from this story to be appreciative of everything that is around me, be conscious of life, and to have hope.

This story touched me on a spiritual level... it kind of answers the fears one has about death...

Posted by Preethu on January 18, 2005 06:07 PM