Friday, 13 August 2010

A “tyranny” we forget

The brilliant writer Bill Kauffman has noted how time standardisation has had major deleterious effects on how people organise their life.

Kauffman says that time standardisation began only when long-distance rail services had to schedule themselves to arrive at major stations as consistently as possible. He says that before this, clocks kept time according to the passage of the sun, so that midday would always be when the sun was as far overhead as possible. Over the years, especially with the spread of daylight savings. time has been removed increasingly from reflecting what I agree it is supposed to do. Though Kauffman neglects to mention it, daylight savings time is again driven by big businesses and government to maximise work and leisure during daylight. This reasoning almost becomes obsolete when activities like sport shift to the night to maximise television revenue, so that there is further reason to argue as I have come to in recent hot summers against daylight savings at all in Australia.

The life I have today - where I often am awake until 2:00 and sleep until 12:00 or even 13:00 - is the ultimate reflection of a tendency I must condemn even as I condemn my own behaviour. I know it would be better for me to get up earlier and not work after midnight, but my tendency to shift focus from one obsession to another makes this very tough.

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