Twelve Hours

Twelve Hours of Sunset

As more people get broadband connections, the temptation to share some things has crept up on me. I like seeing music on other people’s sites. I hate it when they force me to automatically download it, though. Surfing is, for most people I think, a silent activity. But one of the weird things I’ve been doing while I pack and sort to move to Minnesota is rediscovering a lot of the odd unlabeled disks of music I have around here—many of these things could be shared without too much of a moral quandary, because they are recordings which the artist has either implicitly or explicitly voiced the opinion that sharing of non-commercial material is a good thing.

I was looking through some things and found a copy of a Roy Harper recording from 1970 that includes one of my favorite songs, Twelve Hours of Sunset. The song was written while on a flight from India to the UK and it muses about the relationship between movement and time. Earlier in the week, I was reading and thinking about St. Augustine. Augustine dismisses the possibility of defining time through movement:

I shall confine myself to asking what time is, for it is by time that we measure the course of the sun. If it traveled around the earth in a space of time equal to twelve hours, we should say that it had completed its course in half the usual time. By comparing the two times we should say that, if twelve hours were taken as a single period, twenty-four hours was a double period. And this calculation would hold good whether the sun completed its circuit from the east round to the east again in the single or the double period on different occasions.

I cannot therefore accept the suggestion that time is constituted by the movement of heavenly bodies, because although the sun has stood still in answer to a man’s prayer, so he could fight on until victory was his, the sun indeed stood still but time continued to pass. The battle went on as long as necessary and was over. I see time, therefore, as an extension of some sort. But do I really see this or only seem to see it? (272)

As Roy Harper muses in the song, can we be real or only seeming? I think about the times that I stretched out in my little yellow 1977 Honda Civic and drifted off to the song while doing laundry at the Laundromat. This all seems so long ago to me now, and the past, when we think about it, seems to be fixed as a long sunset receding past the horizon. Packing up all this old stuff is a crazy thing. Some pieces you want to clutch and hold in your thoughts; others grab onto you and refuse to let go.

I wanted to share Twelve Hours of Sunset, which means a lot to me. But I wanted to share it in a very specific way. Now that I’m getting things together in the new/old domain, it seems more possible. Thanks to the file-blocking, I can make sure that only people who read me can get it. Not long after the domain was active, MP3 crawlers started trolling it. It isn’t my intention to be part of any global file-sharing network. My reason for posting the song is quite specific. Being able to “close the gate” and make sure that only people who come inside my space can hear it was important to me. I think that this is a “fair use,” whereas just casting material into the ocean of files out there seems to erode the meaning contained within the data. Ultimately, I suspect that this has something to do with not wanting to let go of “ownership” (though I do not own the song, only my thoughts about it) quite as readily as this new electronic frontier seems to demand.