Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Mutability of Time or: 50 Ft. Faces

by Michael Strenski

It was fitting that Lindy and I forgot our watches.

The theories and concepts surrounding time are vast and luminous. Judaeo-Christian belief treats time as a linear arrow, while Buddhists and Hindus dream of a circular wheel where everything comes around again. Like that Rage Against the Machine song. Immanuel Kant believed that the world is merely sensation, that time is created in the minds of individuals and is therefore completely subjective. Tupac Shakur thought time was a son of a bitch.

As the fourth dimension expounded by physicists the world over, time is one of a certain amount of elasticity, in which the closer an object is to the speed of light, the slower time moves. This concept of spacetime is the fundamental structure of the theory of relativity and is responsible for one of the biggest mindfucks known to man. Thank you Einstein. Further extrapolations on the theory of spacetime and other developments within theoretical physics has led many to hypothesize on the potential for time travel.

“Wormholes” are hypothetical tunnels that circumvent the curvature of spacetime by bridging two points into a more direct route. Imagine the path that time follows as a trail running along the base of a mountain. A wormhole would effectively tunnel directly through the mountain, so the distance travelled would be far less and the object in question would arrive at its destination sooner than anything (even light) that travelled along the conventional path. Although at this juncture traversable wormholes are still hypothetical (there being no evidence of their existence), they are valid within the concepts of general relativity.

INLAND EMPIRE is a film that bravely and poetically deals with fidelity, identity, reality, integrity, destiny, catsup, and mustard.


Now that’s just silly.


  1. What's silly is how much more I would have liked to have read. But I think I know what you're going for here and I like that, too. I just wish you'd expound a bit: take us through one of IE's "wormholes".

    Like, the biggie: how'd she wind up back there, interrupting the rehearsal? And from there, how'd she wind up in the valley tract home with all those lovely whores? Even the "wormholes" in this movie aren't linear: time is unfolding like the burnt-through silk.

    Thanks for this. It's made me think twice about which way I'll attack a new essay. Like, how will it unfold over time/reading? And how does that mirror the film?

    In a way, I'm starting to see the brilliance in William S Burroughs. When asked what his writing study was like, he responded, "Everywhere I go, I take a typewriter and a pair of scissors." Knowing that, I think I can get behind him a little better: William Tell mariticide be damned. And, it seems apt to movie makers, too: all they do is cut up film they've captured. What's a writer if not an editor?

  2. After viewing Inland Empire a second time the other night, I have come to fully appreciate this analysis. This film is about the malleability (or "mutabilty", as you nicely put it) of time itself, as much as it is about anything.