Messing with my students’ heads, _________ it real or _________ it is you’d _________ what I do, I asked classes the following question:
Which of the 5 senses is the greatest threat/enemy to the illusion of time?
The answer, of course, is smell.
It hit me when I was walking _________ Bravo Murillo one night and listening to Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s Slaughterhouse 5 on the Ipod. In the (audio) book, the author seems to milk the metaphor of memory as time travel enough to warrant the category of science fiction. To be ________ , he does throw _________ some flying saucers and aliens, though sparsely. Vonnegut, like Frank McCourt and many other writers, puts a high premium on personal experience —on memory —as fodder for fiction. It’s a good way to steer _________ of the great common mound of cliché and rehash, if nothing _________ .
And there is a time travel element to remembering, to be ________ . So it was _________ of ironic that it hit me while I was mentally traveling along that particular narrative. My feet, ________ , were carrying me toward a Kentucky Fried Chicken, which had won _________ amid several roughly equidistant competitors in a complex calculus of taste, price, healthiness (imagine the competition!) and portability (Metro eating, ideally).
The thing is, I’m walking and listening, minding my own business on a crowded Madrid street, when I must have caught a tiny _________ of that KFC chicken. Instantly, _________ before registering the smell, I was rocketed back to Shattuck and Virginia, in Berkeley, at the age of 8 or 9 –maybe even earlier –and to the KFC that _________ to be there. Though the space/time dimension of this teleportation was keen, overriding it was another feeling. Or rather a feelings mix. All _________ the same micro instant came a layering of feelings from several visits to that KFC, from many times and thus from no particular time.
The feelings were good, _________ the food itself –the chicken and perhaps accompanying mashed potatoes, _________ of which I liked and like –along with feelings of satisfaction, safety, protection, being cared for and nurtured/nourished, needs superbly ________ , appetites optimally satisfied –all warmly cloistered _________ the comfortably nostalgic envelope that comes with remembering childhood haunts and stomping grounds.
Another curious illusion, along ________ the time specificity/vagueness problem, is that it was ________ feeling those feelings and smelling those same or similar chicken smells. As if the intervening 40 or so years meant nothing, didn’t really exist. That I was the same person now ________ then. As ________ a lie as ever could be. On a par perhaps with dreaming of being someone else, or a shifting panoply of someone elses, all experienced in the 1st person –as oneself, though possibly doing things the waking self would never dream (so to speak) of doing.
It’s all hallucination anyway. You don’t really time travel. Scrutiny proves that the time you’ve visited never ________ existed and the you who ________ visit could certainly ________ have been a part of it even ________ it happened. Surely the transportive feeling is vivid, as real-seeming as the delusions of the most out-there mental patient.
Science tells us that the “physical” nature of time is very much at ________ with the human experience of it, warped and relative rather than straight and uniform. Experience shows that the human version of time has its _______ of internal ________ _________well.