“Time in itself, absolutely, does not exist; it is always relative to some observer or some object. Without a clock I say ‘I do not know the time’. Without matter time itself is unknowable. Time is a function of matter; and matter, therefore, is the clock that makes infinity real. – John Fowles, Áristos
Time is one of those things that we never think about. In a way, we take it for granted. Our lives are paced out according to the dictates of the hour, minute and second hand. What are our days other than a collection of hours? Time elapses, and we live in the seconds in-between. Yet, keeping time has not always so easy. Unlike the easy convenience of digital time, our ancestors had to painstaking wind clocks weekly, taking care to reset the time.
Similarly, in the historic DeKalb County Courthouse, the clock is wound without fail on Saturday. Access to the clock is restricted due to the difficulty of reaching the clock. Visitors rarely think about it, but the clock remains as it was when the courthouse was rebuilt in the early 1900’s. The first picture shows the clock as it is wound, while the bottom images depict the clock mechanism. Symbolically, it connects the past to the present. Time is always passing, advancing our lives forward. If you listen closely, you can hear the next tick coming.
Written by Samantha Mooney, Intern DeKalb History Center