After I wrote about feeling that the our trip to Europe hit the reset button in my life, I began to feel somewhat at loose ends. Not ready to resume previous writing projects, nor to pick up the books I’d lined up to read. Anne Mei went to visit a friend for three days. It was just Toto and me. Anne Mei is back and we’re working through her list of items to buy for her dorm room.
I was curious to find out more about Marie de Medicis, but there were no biographies of her in the public library. I did start one about her distant cousin Catherine, whose three sons immediately preceded Marie’s husband as kings of France. The author states that the Medici Pope Clement VII was not an ordained priest, confusing him with the French anti-pope of the same name but 150 years earlier, but I’m reading for the fascinating stories, not for absolute historical accuracy.
Still feeling at loose ends I decided to try a new show on Netflix. From the first moments of the first episode of Rectify I was hooked and have just binged watched all three seasons, except for the third season finale which played tonight and which I will watch on DVR tomorrow.
The series begins when Daniel Holden is released after 20 years on death row, living in a 9 x 12 room with no windows and only ventilation grates through which he can talk to the prisoners on either side of his cell. Prolonged confinement in such a small space has affected his eyesight such that he needs glasses to see distant objects more clearly.
Living within himself for 20 years has also affected Daniel’s whole being. From the first moments out of prison Daniel has a deer-in-the-headlights gaze at a world of blaring sounds, bright lights, people who love him and people who want him dead. In the first season Daniel is still very much in his head, his books and his meditative experiences. This exchange will give you an idea of why I became engrossed in his story. In it Daniel is talking with his new sister-in-law married to a new step-brother gained through his mother’s remarriage after the death of his father while he was in prison.
Daniel Holden: The place where I was had no windows, just these thick walls surrounded by more thick walls. So I never knew if it was raining or even heard the loudest thunder.
Tawney Talbot: That’s so sad.
Daniel Holden: It’s not as bad as it sounds because I didn’t sense things in a normal way, I didn’t miss them. If I couldn’t sense them, they weren’t real to me.
Tawney Talbot: What was real to you, Daniel?
Daniel Holden: The time in between the seconds. And my books. And my friend.
Daniel Holden: Now that I’m here in this world where everything’s marked by hours or dates or events, I find myself in a state of constant anticipation. What it is I’m anticipating, I’m not always sure, nor is it necessarily a pleasant feeling. But in the case of the inevitable rain and thunder which I am sure to experience, thanks to you Tawney, I am very much looking forward to that.
Tawney Talbot: It will be glorious, Daniel. You won’t be disappointed.
This exchange speaks not only to my wonder about “the time between the seconds,” but also to my present circumstance of anticipating Anne Mei’s departure for college.
When I first heard Daniel, I wasn’t sure what “friend” he was talking about. The whole tone and rhythm of the sentence gave me the impression that “friend” had an ontological significance on the order of “the time in between the seconds.” Perhaps it did, but the first order of reference was to the black inmate in the next cell with whom Daniel became quite close. Of their many conversations one touched on a theme of a number of my previous blog posts and the subject of a philosophical work planned for next year.
Kerwin Whitman: I can’t do time the way you do it.
Daniel Holden: I don’t do time.
Kerwin Whitman: That’s what I’m talking about. I can’t do time by not doing time the way you do time.
Even though Daniel’s story and his character become much more complicated and the dialogue becomes less laden with philosophical allusions, the writing and the acting continue to maintain a depth not characteristic of TV murder mysteries. There could be worse ways to ease out of the tangles of loose ends. Through such art we can get out of ourselves and sense that “time between the seconds.”