Tick, Tick, Tick

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (www.sirwilliamwesley.com)

Time. No one can deny its importance. Whether it’s time passing, or perhaps the anticipation of a specific time, no matter who you are you cannot help but feel time’s influence on your life. When dealing with time often you are interacting with a clock. Time is important, and that makes the clock a potent symbol.

Clocks obviously symbolize time. With the passing of time in your life, you become increasingly aware that there is an end. This makes the clock a symbol of the transience of life. In early devotional paintings, an hourglass would indicate the passage of time and as an attribute of Father Time and/or Death personified. In still life art the clock, a modern equivalent of the hourglass, generally is used to express the same ideas. The clock’s relationship to the end of our time is so strong that in many cultures the clock is an important part of death. A common custom is to stop the clocks in the house of a family member that has passed away. To not do so is to risk bad luck or possibly death of another family member. In South America, clocks are placed on graves to symbolize the transition between life and death.

Despite it’s associations with something as primal and natural as death, clocks also symbolize the machine age. As clocks became more accurate and reliable, people began to shift away from being guided by the rhythms of nature. We were no longer ruled by the changing of the seasons as much as the clock.

Jane Austen said, “Oh! Do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch.” We all want more time, time to go by faster, to go back in time. Therefore, like it or not, we are all dictated to by time’s henchman, the clock.