The Whirligig of Time
“‘And thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges’. Line of prose. Recognize it? From the last act of Twelfth Night. Feste the clown, to Malvolio, just before Feste sings that lovely song, before he sings, ‘A great while ago the world begun, / With hey ho, the wind and the rain.’ and the play is over. I couldn’t get that line out of my head. “And thus the whirligig of time brings his revenges.’ Those cryptogrammic g‘s, the subtlety of their deintenisfication — those hard g’s in ‘whirligig’ followed by the nasalized g of ‘brings’ followed by the the soft g of ‘revenges.’ Those terminal s‘s… ‘thus brings his revenges.’ The hissing surprise of the plural noun ‘revenges.’ Guhh. Juhh. Zuhh. Consonants sticking to me like needles. And the pulsating vowels, the rising tide of their pitch — engulfed by that. The low-pitched vowels giving way to the high-pitched vowels. The bass and tenor vowels giving way to the alto vowels. The assertive lengthening of the vowel i, short i, long i. Short i, short i, short i, boom! Revenges. Brings in his revenges, His revenges. Sibilated. Hizzzzzzuh! Driving back to Newark with Ira’s weapons in my car, those ten words, the phonetic webbing, the blanket omniscience… I felt I was asphyxiated inside Shakespeare.
– Philip Roth, I Married a Communist
If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.
—William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act 3, Scene 4
Maybe time is a whirligig. I tend to think it is a continuum. For how else to explain dreams of things that happen 15 years later in the exact place? Are psychics those for whom the slider is untethered?