Was der Daus!   By Zander Heeger

By Jupiter, it’s already June! I blinked after year-end and here we are slap in the chill of mid-year. Who the deuce hit the fast-forward?

The deuce? Indulge me to pause at the deuce for a mo. A bit of tame profanity there, what? Like most of these dazzling epigrams that we use daily sans pondering their literal sense, the origin of deuce is uncertain. One source reckons it stems from 16th century German. ’Was der Daus’ evidently meant ‘What the devil’. I like saying that with some intent. Try it: ’Was der Daus!’. It’s punchy and sounds like a good curse, a powerful oath. And it’s harmless and socially acceptable on a community website. Bonus!  Hmmm, the modern German for Daus is Teufel, so deuce is more likely to have a French origin. Mutter-mutter…

I digress. The cliché point is, time is fleeting. (Wince.) It is a relentless whipping master in our present-day time. (Wince².) But it needn’t be. Here is a sweet view that …’time doesn’t click on and on at the stroke. It comes and goes in waves and folds like water… When a wave breaks the water is not moving. The swell has travelled great distances but only the energy is moving, not the water. Perhaps time moves through us and not us through it. …The past is in us, and not behind us. Things are never over.’

Wasn’t that neat? And quite elegantly poetic too, especially appealing to many of the S&M mystics living in the SS, you must agree. (Huh? Oh, S&M = sea-and-mountain; SS = Scenic South.) Well, it’s a passage from a book called The Turning by Tim Winton. You may be surprised to learn that he is Australian. Yes, I know…

But despite the numinously poetic appeal of this passage, it is also a tad hogwashish, you will concede. I mean, get a grip Winton. Currently, the international unit of time – the second, would you believe – is defined in terms of radiation emitted by caesium atoms. S’true’s Bob. And that’s just for scientific starters. The smart okes question whether there is such a thing as time. The counting activity aside, there has been unsettling and sinister talk of a single continuum called space-time. Now would be a good time to make The Sign to ward off them evil spirits, hey. And it may be time (!) to do another robust Was der Daus too, what the hell.

I must admit, there was something of the continuum concept in Winton’s wave-and-energy metaphor. But face it, defining time adequately has consistently eluded the greatest scholars so it would be presumptuously dopey to attribute the last timely word to a sensitive, surfing Oz in the Outback.

Does this qualify as, sort of, xenophobic hate speech? In that case, I take it back unreservedly. Thing is, you can’t do that with time. You can’t take it back, hey. It’s like, if you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let them go, because, man, they’re gone. Sorry. I suppose you had to be there. I thought that was quite a droll, off-the-wall type of ‘if’ joke at the time. Like, if trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason. Wahaha!  Oh, ok: wince³.

You may have noticed that some time references in the previous paragraph were unsubtly underlined. Even in trivial, easy speak, time is very much part of our fibre and frame of reference, despite the devilish notion that there is no such thing.

Now, if you have the time, you may be interested to read Tim Winton’s books. Although I’ve quoted from The Turning, I found the book to be a bundle of contradictions. Ostensibly a novel masquerading as a collection of 17 short stories, it is an optimistic wallow in the doldrums of middle age. It is full of violence and despair, but is also occasionally tender and poetic. His earlier book, Breath, was well worth the read though. Essentially an Australian paean to surfing, the book also explores an aversion to being ordinary. It is a study of the pursuit of the extreme and extraordinary, pushing oneself to the limits of fear and exhilaration, and then having to cope with ordinary life afterwards, learning how to mask the emptiness of leaving such intensity behind.

In your own time, Breath could be a refreshing pant-read to take the chill out of June, by Jove.

Zander Heeger is a free-lance writer who was commanded by the formidable SS to produce a pompous column and a book review. Schnell! That’s the long and the short of it. Being high on time and low on pressure tolerance, he did a short-cut combo and humbly hinted at a double reward. All in good time, they SS-sniggered knowingly…