The Time Machine

From Alfred Jarry’s Commentary and Instructions for the Practical Construction of the Time Machine, (I have a more legible copy if you’re interested) written in the year 1900:

We should note that there are two Pasts for the Machine: the past that occurred before our own living present, the real past so to speak; and the past created by the Machine once it has come back to our Present, and which is nothing other than the reversibility of the Future.

Likewise, since the Machine cannot reach the real Past until it has first shot into the Future, it must pass through a certain point, symmetrical to our Present – and like it a still point between the future and the past – and which we should call the imaginary Present.

To the Traveller on his Machine, Time thus presents itself as a curve, or better still as a closed curved surface, analogous to Aristotle’s ether. Some time ago, we ourselves had occasion to write Ethernity, for reasons that were barely different (Exploits and Opinions, book VIII). The observer who lacks a Machine sees Time stretching out from the half that he is in, and sees less than half of Time, in much the same way as the Earth was first thought to be flat.

A definition of Duration may easily be deduced from the way in which the Machine works. Since Duration results when t is reduced to 0, and then from 0 to -t, we can write:

Duration is the transformation of a succession into a reversion.


Will Be Was.