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Inspiration through horology

July 4, 2010

It’s been a busy week, even if it doesn’t feel like I’ve achieved very much. Certainly no writing (of the fictional variety, unless you count my CV and job applications, but they aren’t really fiction, merely the best representations of reality…), far less editing than intended—but lots of planning, lots of thinking, and lots of talking and listening. Talking because I’ve been caught up in the whole Audioboo movement that Annie & Jodi mentioned at the start of the week.

Also talking with, and listening to both Jodi and all round media genius Greg McQueen about existing projects (Chinese Whisperings) and future projects.

So it has been a somewhat desk-bound week this week. Which is quite fortuitous, since I got a whole new desk and everything as you will remember from last week’s post. And it all segues nicely into the prompt for this week (courtesy of The Publicity Hound), which is:

What’s the most unusual thing in your office that inspires, entertains or humors you?

I have a number of inspirational items in my office. The Writer’s Block I mentioned last week that I put inspirational quotes into. My wedding photo. I’ve got unusual things too. A Beanie Baby Grim Reaper. A finger puppet Julia made.

If I may be permitted something that is in my office, but usually carried on my person, then I can give you something both inspirational and unusual; my pocket watch.

There’s nothing “special” about it. It isn’t antique. It isn’t a gift for a significant occasion, from a significant person. I bought it for myself, because I liked it. It is brand new.

But it is unusual for being a pocket watch. Who uses them these days? Not many. The site of me fishing it out from the mysterious fifth pocket on my jeans (bet you always thought that pocket was for loose change) or from out of a waistcoat pocket draws stares.

And it is inspirational for what it is. Complex simplicity, simplicity through complexity. I love clockwork—the idea that the simplest of ideas, turning wheels, could be applied over and over to create an item that keeps time regularly, that predicts sunrise and sunset, that records the date, all through the regular turning of gears, wheels, and the tension of springs. It is elegant in a way that modern watches, particularly digital watches, can never be.

For someone so firmly wedded to the digital, it is a curiously analogue item. But everything about it says beauty, elegance, simplicity and order, even though I understand the sheer complexity behind it and devices like it.

It also reminds me of the ideas that I have. I’m increasingly drawn to the world of steampunk, the steam and clockwork driven scifi worlds decorated in Victoriana. And the quiet ticking in my pocket is an incessant engine driving me forward with the idea in my head, an idea I’ll reveal more about later in the year.

To paraphrase a great spiritual leader, it is an elegant timepiece, for a more civilised age.

So that’s my unusual yet inspirational object. Show me yours.

Happy Birthday America, love from Mum.
  1. adampb permalink
    July 4, 2010 3:40 am

    I also own a pocket watch, which I wear to work with a waistcoat; it feels so old world, yet so right. My students comment on it all the time. Beyond that, the thing that humours me is the 6 inch tall Phantom figurine. The thing that inspires me is the range of books sitting in piles in various locations around the room. Shakespeare is a good one for a line or two. And I closely associate my drums with inspiration, trying to feel the rhythm and pace of my words. Hence, there is always a pair of drumsticks and a practice pad on my desk.

  2. adampb permalink
    July 4, 2010 3:52 am

    I also have a pocket watch that I wear with a waistcoat to work. My students comment on it all the time. It has that old-world, refined feel to it.
    As for humour, I have a 6 inch tall Phantom figurine that looks over my desk. For inspiration I have books piled everywhere, but Shakespeare and C S Lewis feature prominently. Also, there is always a pair of drumsticks and a practice pad on my desk, as I link words to my drumming, the rhythm and pace of words with the beats and grooves of a drumkit. So why do I suck so badly at poetry? LOL.

  3. July 4, 2010 8:00 am

    I love pocket watches! I’ve always wanted one but instead of buying one for myself, I bought one for my boyfriend for Christmas. He always wanted one too.

    That’s also probably one of the reasons why I’m fascinated with steampunk as well.

    My one inspirational object on my desk is probably my kachina doll. It reminds me of my youth when I first fell in love with books and writing.

  4. July 4, 2010 12:06 pm

    Love the watch. It reminds me of a passage from Faulkner, where he describes the ticking of a watch for several (brilliant) pages. My inspirational item is a lock. I was recently in Paris where I saw a whole slew of locks fastened to the chain links on a bridge. A great story came out of it. Not even my story, the story of how they got there. I wrote about it on my blog. Normally I share writing exercises there but I had to put that story out there.

  5. July 4, 2010 2:33 pm

    I love pocket watches, so I think it’s jolly spiffy that you’ve got one! Liss, my commander from Vertigo City, would wholeheartedly approve.

  6. Deanna Schrayer permalink
    July 8, 2010 9:52 am

    Lovely pocket watch! I’ve always been fascinated with timekeepers of any type. In fact, I’d love to have a wall full of various clocks, all set for different times, so that when someone asks what time it is I can point to the wall and say, “What time would you like it to be?”

    I have several odd, and not so odd, objects in my office. My favorites are the tambourine and dreamcatcher. So much inspiration flows from them. I posted a blog last September when I completely redecorated my office – there are before and after pictures here, in which you can see both the tambourine and dreamcatcher, as well as a lot of my other “junk”. :)

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