A moment in time

The other week at Savers I found a curious object, nestled amongst the old man’s reading glasses, Pierrot windchimes and broken barbeque tongs. It was long and silver, rounded at one end and looked like a very thin, groovy sort of Esky. I unscrewed one end and discovered it was a time capsule. Well, it said on the side: Time Capsule.

Ten bucks! Mint condition! Bargain!

I realised only at that moment a time capsule was exactly what I needed, so tucked it under one arm and bustled off to join my friends at The Retreat. On the way to the beer garden I was assailed by various wags who seized it, placed it in front of their groins and made thrusting gestures at their delighted friends. Merriment ensued. Melbourne men know their way to a woman’s heart, do they not?

Now I’ve got this sparkling new time capsule ready to fill, and haven’t an earthly idea what to put in it. What of mine could represent moi in Melbourne in 2008? What’s going to last that long? And where should I put it? Newspaper clippings will degrade, CD players and computers will become outdated and photos will stick together. And if I bury it in my backyard, some insufferable couple years from now will dig it up, replace it with a trompe l’oeil of a Tuscan vineyard and use the capsule as a toybox for their repulsive child.

Racked by this beastly vision, I turned to the Internet:

Andy Warhol used to keep all his old crud in a series of cardboard boxes, which viewed as an exhibition only 20 years later is really interesting.
-The Crypt of Civilization is designed to be opened in the year 8113, according to 1930s boffins, the ‘midpoint of recorded history’.
-There’s a proposed time capsule in space, the KEO. As it’s designed by an artist with things in it like ‘a diamond with a single drop of blood inside’ and will ‘sprout an artful pair of wings’, I’m sensing the launch date may be a while away.
-And a totally daggy-sounding Yahoo time capsule.

The consensus is that most time capsules don’t provide much historical information of value. If it’s to be any good to people in the future, you’ve got to fill it with insightful bits and pieces of daily life such as personal documents and images, rather than prime ministerial speeches, baby’s bootees and your footy tips.

Another problem is that if a capsule is sealed for a certain amount of years, then the intervening generations will have no access to what’s inside them. There could be something totally random inside that makes no sense to people hundreds of years on. “What’s this,” they’ll screech, their feelers waving excitedly, sniffing your hot water bottle then stuffing it down their pants. But we make do.

In terms of the ‘daily life’ proviso, my problem is that I don’t really feel of my time.

I don’t own an iPod or a digital set-top box – whatever that is. I don’t really do gigs or outdoor festivals or even movies any more. I don’t own a house, a dog or a car (I’d rather be tearing around town in bloomers on a penny-farthing. Or on a horse and trap. Or in a litter, borne by six husky gents in their prime). And then I’ve never done (many) drugs, or shagged my way around Europe or had an ill-advised live-in relationship with a musician or a comedian. I feel that modern architecture, modern art and computer games are all a total waste of time. I just don’t get it. Most days I feel completely in the wrong place and time.

Neither do I feel particularly of my gender.

I can’t afford ‘retail therapy’, and don’t own a hair-straightener. I don’t think life owes me a Big Day and a pouffy dress. I don’t insist in martyred tones the need for ‘me time’. ‘All the bloody time’ is ‘me time.’

It seems a bit fash for modern ladies to take great pride in the fact they cannot cook. “Nope! Couldn’t boil an egg!!” they say delightedly, as if we should all fall on their necks and congratulate them. Who should cook for them, one wonders? Somebody else, one presumes.

Men of course have gone the other way. They fret over buffalo mozzarella and verjuice and Jamie Oliveresque shit like we should all congratulate them, then throw ourselves naked on the ground to await ravishment. Pah! I have no time for that posturing either. Cooking is a fundamental requirement for human survival. If you can’t, or won’t do it, then you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. If you can do it, then fix me something nice and I’ll pour the wine.

And then there’s the ‘tude. I just don’t get what makes most people tick any more.

I think I’ve well and truly covered the excess consumption thing on this blog. It also seems quite trendy these days to parade a litany of minor ailments and injuries. Just check out the number of nasal sprays and cold & flu tablets at the chemist that cure nothing. TV shows. Articles on good health. A multi-squillion dollar industry. Don’t get it. If it’s not the sinuses it’s the sore back or cricked neck or general ‘stress-related ailment’ that seems to afflict so many. Myself, I take great pride in the fact that I’m in continual rude good health. Unless you’ve got a genuine illness or injury – what have you got to complain about?

And what’s with the busyness all the time? You ask how someone is these days, and the answer is always the same: “So so busy! So much on,” they say, as if they’re even a bit too busy to have this conversation. We are all busy. Get the fuck over it.

Where was I? Time capsules, yes.

The International Society of Time Capsules at Oglethorpe University in the States has the following tips on making a good one (my thoughts in italics):

Select a retrieval date. A 50-year or less time capsule may be witnessed by your own generation. The longer the duration, the more difficult the task. Centennial (100-year) time capsules are popular.

Choose an ‘archivist’ or director. Committees are good to share the work load, but a single person needs to direct the project.

OK the committee is you guys. Comments below.

Find a secure indoor location. It is not recommended that time capsules be buried – thousands have been lost in this way. It is important that the location be marked with a plaque describing the ‘mission’ of the time capsule.
Tee hee. My mission is to waste time and amuse myself. To become immortal? To waste 10 bucks I could have spent on beer? To waffle on about me me me??

Secure items for time storage. Many things your committee selects will have meaning into the future. Try to have a mix of items from the sublime to the trivial. Items are usually donated. The archivist should keep an inventory of all items sealed in the time capsule.
I think it will be fun to explain the significance of the Figgtacular to persons of the future.

Have a solemn “sealing ceremony” where you formally christen the time capsule with a name. Invite the media and keep a good photographic record of your efforts, including the inside of your completed project.
I name you Siegfried.

Don’t forget your time capsule! You would be surprised how often this happens, usually within a short time. Try to “renew” the tradition of memory with anniversaries and reunions. You might also send out invitations to the projected opening. Use your creativity at all times.
I like this last line. Perhaps some sort of interpretive dance is in order?

Thus far my list looks like:

How to document blog in capsule?
Edinburgh Gardens – buy spade
Shopping list
Seal the lid with wax?
Theme.

There is however a time limit to the ‘sealing ceremony’. I’ve got to get this sucker filled and buried soon, because if I see another man pretend it’s his cock I’m going to have to brain him with it. My housemate’s done it several times and the image is burned unpleasantly on my memory.

Och, I’ve opened a can of worms with this one. Maybe I should just bury that.

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16 thoughts on “A moment in time

  1. I think the most valuable thing you can leave in a time capsule is something that tells the tale of everyday life in your time.Genealogy is a big thing in our family and we know lots about dates and places, but it’s the stories of peoples lives that is the most interesting.I’d think given the information age that we live in, all the ‘important’ things will be easy to find out about. But it’s the everyday trivial stuff that is less likely to be remembered.Given your wonderful writing skills, maybe you could write a vivid experiential diary over a few days about life in Melbourne in 2008?Oh and put some pegs in. I’m sure our society will be most remembered by our techological advances in pegs. xox

  2. i should mention that my ‘word’ comment relates particularly to the delightful digression in the middle of this post – not that the whole thing doesn’t deserve the big up of my saying ‘word’… but it just doesn’t make as much sense without context. that said, i thoroughly enjoyed the whole post. as you were.

  3. You absolutely must put in that cup thing you use for your period, I forget what you call it, also any sex toys your dour-faced lesbian roommates might have left behind.Put in nothing of good taste,the usual time capsule stuff is just dull.

  4. Kakariki: much good advice here! I just have to think about what I would find interesting if I dug one of these up. Probably deeply personal stuff, trinkets and gossipy whatnots. And ads. I always like looking at old ads, particularly the copy.Pegs? I saw a good segment on the Collectors recently on some old buffer who collected pegs..Susanna: Tres bon! Merci!! I was worried that my ranting might have a soporific effect but then thought….well it is my blogge anyway.MAi: ho ho – so gynaecological implementata is the go, yes? Can you imagine the faces of future-people upon digging up such a relic? Hmm, could be a very long-standing practical joke. I like it.Twinkies we don’t get here, but I long for it. Aren;t they supposed to survive for centuries underground, like hot dogs? Or as any hippie might tell you?That journeyman thing is GOLD. I have to go hunt one down now. You know me well.

  5. BBBJ,Imagine! A country, nay, an entire continent sans Twinkies. I think of The Eagles Hotel California: ‘This could be heaven or this could be hell.’ No sugary Twinkie defence, but also no chewy plastic cake with a creme filling. I don’t know.Menstrual cups and no Twinkies. I must needs do some more thinking about Australia.About the journeymen. I don’t think I really know you that well. I know me, what I like and we have similar tastes. Good thing we’re halfway round the world from each other. It wouldn’t do to have us competing for the same few – very few – MEN.

  6. a current tv guide would be of interest to me in the future.some kind of magazine with fashions of the day.lollies. i have my own mini collection dating back to 1976 (Jaws 2 bubblegum – crumbles into dust in your mouth after 30 year, surprisingly) and would love to come across other gems from my childhood again.old cassettes with liquid papered names of bands on outside.old Korowa record book.

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  9. I remember making a time capsule with a friend a long time ago, it was an old biscuit tin we filled to the brim with all things 10 year old girls think are important. It was quite exciting. We dug a hole, buried it and then covered it all up so it didn’t even look like the ground had been disturbed. How proud we were!Pity neither of us can now remember where the hell it is. Anyway, I hadn’t thought about that for a while now, but your post brought it to the front of my mind.Moral of the story is: whatever you fill it with, however long you keep it sealed for… just remember where you actually put it.

  10. Time-capsules and “no time for this conversation” ?then we need a capsule to swallow so the day seems longer … and Alice would take it.I guess a good time capsule would contain all those “what is it” things they have on The Collectors.I am house-sitting in the home of some people who have been ON The Collectors.The rooms are stacked to the ceiling with the thing they collect.I was watching the night they had that peg collector and I loved it when the panel woman confessed she color coded her pegs when hanging the wash …. because I do too and I thought I must be nuts and the only one.such a relief.

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