Dream of: 06 June 1996 (2) "Voice Of Time"
Carolina and I had moved to Mexico City, Mexico. We were staying in a modest but clean room which had rough brown wood for walls and a wooden floor, and which seemed on the third or fourth floor of the building. A bed with clean white sheets was the central piece of furniture. I was somewhat concerned about where we were because we were living in one of the poorer areas of the city. I had earlier been walking through the streets and had seen crowds of poor people, some of whom had been expressing their discontent with the Mexican government and the treatment of the poor. It seemed clear to me that a revolution could erupt at any time. I sympathized with the poor Mexicans who had no say in the government nor any connection with the higher echelons of society. But I knew that if a revolution were to break out, since I was an American, I could be targeted by the poor Mexicans as an enemy. What would I do in a situation like that? Would I just try to hide in my room? I certainly didn't want to fight, but hiding didn't sound like a viable solution either.
At the moment, however, I had more immediate concerns. Carolina already had a job in the city, and she needed to go to work. We knew it was morning and probably time for her to leave. We were both already dressed, and she was ready to go, but we didn't have a clock and we didn't know what time it was. We were afraid we might have overslept and that Carolina might be late.
From a large bookshelf which ran along one wall and which was filled with books, I pulled down one hardcover book, a copy of the Iliad. As I pulled the book from the shelf and looked at its cover, I was reminded of a story which Carolina had told me. Carolina had been talking about a woman who used to be our friend, but whom I hadn't seen in quite a while: Melanie. I could even visualize Melanie in my mind: a thin brown-haired woman in her mid 30s. Carolina had told me that Melanie had become interested in cooking-recipes from other countries and cultures. In furtherance of this interest, Melanie had begun buying colorful cooking books containing such recipes, and had been giving out the books as gifts to her friends. As I held the Iliad in my hands, I reflected how drab its color was – in contrast to the colorful covers of the books which I imagined Melanie had been passing out. But at least I thought that the Iliad was a hardback book, whereas the books Melanie was giving away were only paperbacks.
Carolina had also told me that as Melanie had continued to explore the art of cooking, she (Melanie) had begun experimenting with using the eggs of different kinds of birds. Instead of chicken eggs, Melanie apparently was somehow able to procure a wide variety of all sorts of eggs from many different kinds of birds, and would use them in her cooking.
I had also been thinking of what I was going to eat for breakfast, and eggs had come to mind. But now that I was thinking about Melanie and her eating all those bird eggs, the idea of eating eggs seemed rather revolting. I even spoke up and said something about it to Carolina, saying how that eating eggs wasn't good for a person.
I sat down on the bed with Carolina beside me and opened the Iliad to a page in about the middle, a page marked by a white piece of paper used as a bookmark. I thought to myself how long it had been since I had read the Iliad. Yet it was familiar to me. I knew the bookmark would mark the place where I had last left off reading, and that I could pick up my reading right there. I knew this was my method of reading – reading many books at the same time, reading short passages, marking where I had left off, then returning to the books at some indefinite point in the future and picking back up. I thought I now might want to pick back up with the Iliad.
On the page which I had opened were several lines which had been underlined in pencil. I focused in on those lines, trying to understand the meaning, trying to remember the story of the book and where this passage took place. But I quickly saw that the meaning was dense and difficult to grasp. I was going to need some time to concentrate on it. And that wasn't my reason for picking up this book – at the moment I simply needed to know what time it was.
I closed the book and held it in front of me with its back binding facing me. Carolina was sitting next to me, watching me. Right at the top of the back binding were some black markings, which I pressed with my finger. When I pressed the markings, they would change, reforming themselves into visible numbers, as on a digital watch. And that was exactly what this was – right here on the back binding of the Iliad: a clock. Not only was a time displayed, but I could hear my own voice – that is, a recording of my voice – coming from the book, speaking out the time.
I thought this was all a novel way of telling time, and I liked having the book. The only problem was that the clock wasn't functioning properly. Or at least it didn't seem to be functioning properly, because the time given was 12:00. And when I pressed the book again, the time was 12:01. I thought it was possible that this was the correct time, but it seemed unlikely, because that would have meant that Carolina and I had slept for 18 hours. I figured we had probably overslept, but I didn't think it had been for that long. At any rate we definitely needed to find out the correct time so Carolina could make it to work.
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