Stopped Clocks and Watches: Rethinking Modern Society and Clock Time

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 45 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Hideo HAMA, Keio University, Japan
We can see stopped clocks and watches that are preserved in Japan. For example, they stopped at 2:46 (Fukushima), 5:46 (Kobe), 8:15 (Hiroshima), 11:02 (Nagasaki), etc. The function of clocks and watches is to tick away and show time. Stopped clocks and watches do not tick away time any longer. They have lost their function as a clock or watch. Nevertheless, these clocks and watches are never discarded because they are unusable. They are preserved as they are. Why are they preserved in this manner, although they no longer function as a clock or watch? I wonder if a stopped clock or watch shows the time different from the time that a working clock or watch ticks away.

About 110 years ago, Georg Simmel wrote “If all the clocks and watches in Berlin suddenly went in different ways, even if only by one hour, all economic life and communication in the city would be disrupted for a long time.” He had the foresight to say that modern society cannot work without clock time. Needless to say, modern society does not work without the clocks and watches that temporally adjust the interactions conducted by many people who are spatially distant from each other. However, modern society does not just depend on clock time.

Edmund Husserl indicated that in each individual’s consciousness, there is the time that accumulates vertically in memory in addition to the time that flows away horizontally. This is true of the social dimension as Alfred Schutz shows. While a working clock or watch ticks away every second of the time that is flowing away horizontally, a stopped clock or watch is showing the time that is accumulating vertically. In this paper I will empirically show this through research on commemoration ceremonies held in front of stopped clocks or watches.