Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Embarrassing Secret (But Aren't Most of Them?)

"What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets."
--Andre Malraux

So in an attempt be less miserable, I'm going to unload a rather embarrassing secret today. It's a secret that I only revealed to The Wife two days ago, and since I found the whole experience pretty liberating, I figured, why not tell a few people I've never met?

I don't get time travel.

There, I said it. I know I'm supposed to get time travel because I am 1. a guy, 2. a huge Back to the Future fan, and 3. thought Bill and Ted' Excellent Adventure was excellent. But really, I don't get it and I never have.

I bring this up because of the book I just finished, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. SPOILER: There's some time travel stuff in there. And I really couldn't wrap my head around much of it. This is nothing new. In spite of my adoration of Back to the Future (and the fact that I've seen those movies way too many times to accurately count), I have never gotten time travel.

I mean, I get the theory and I'm perfectly willing to go along with the eventual possibility of it happening. I just don't get the physics at all. Any time I read a book or watch a movie and there's any time traveling in it, my head just about explodes trying to figure it all out.

I think part of the problem is there needs to be some agreement on the rules. Can you or can you not run into yourself in your own past or future? Will that or will that not cause problems? If I go back in time as an old man and influence my younger self to act in a way that I did not when I was younger, doesn't that then change me (the old man)? If so changed, am I still presented with the opportunity to go back in time, or would my new life trajectory make that impossible? If it was impossible and I couldn't go back in time as an older man to alter my younger self's life, then---ah! Screw it!





14 comments:

DebraLSchubert said...

I just finished reading a book with a time travel element. I went with the flow. The book was awesome in a women's fiction kind of way. Recommend it to your wife. It's called "Time of My Life" by Allison Winn Scotch (I interviewed her on my blog recently).

Tracy Edward Wymer said...

When You Reach Me has some heavy time travel dialogue and happenings, and I will admit that it caught me in places too. I'm not too proud. It's a little confusing at times.

These are valid questions you bring up. Back to the Future movies make it look so easy though. How's that possible?

Paul Michael Murphy said...

It's possible with 1.21 jigowatts.

Monica said...

The Time Traveler's wife also has time travelling in it ( i know, right?).. awesome book.

Myra said...

I write time travel.

Stop laughing.

Corey Schwartz said...

OMG, I had the exact same problem with The Time Traveler's Wife. Could not wrap my head around it and it drove me crazy! So glad its not just me :)

Lily Cate said...

I think most writers just make it seem so complicated that the audience finally just goes along with it if the story is good and fun enough.
Then you can sit and worry about all the little details later- like, it wasn't okay for Marty to bring the sports book back, but Doc Brown can save the schoolteacher and then raise his kids on a time traveling train... really?

Jason said...

I can't believe that you have never time traveled. I have done it countless times. Typically I am in a bar, it is my birthday or one of my friends’s birthdays or maybe just someone else in the bars birthday. I start drinking Jack Daniels, I start dancing, maybe I Karaoke "Living on a Prayer" and then suddenly it is 11 AM and I am in my bed with a terrible headache craving a Big Mac meal with a throw in double cheese burger for the ride home. Time travel is the only thing that logically explains how I can lose those 10 or so hours.

Betty said...

Favorite Time Travel Book Ever: Timescape - Gregory Benford.

This book made me feel super smart because it seems like it could actually happen. Plus, it's just a darn good novel. :-)

Paul Michael Murphy said...

The Wife read The Time Traveler's Wife and tried to explain it to me. I didn't get it.

Tracy Edward Wymer said...

My sternum hurts.

That Buds for you, PMM!

Monica said...

you leave your sternum out of this, TW.... sheesh.. this is a family blog.

MG Higgins said...

Rent the movie (documentary?) "What the bleep is going on?" I don't recall that it explains time travel specifically but it does get into the physics of alternate realities which is closely related. Totally possible, man. Dig it.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

I dig it, I just don't get it.

Maybe Myra should explain it to me.