Why Alien Time?

from an essay by Paul Valery "Dance and the Soul"

Socrates: (on the dancer, Athitke)

But what is a flame, O my friends, if not the moment itself?

The woman who was there is being devoured by innumerable figures ... That body, in its bursts of vigor offers me an extreme thought; even as we demand of our soul many things for which is was not made, and require of it to illumine us, to prophesy, to divine the future, adjuring even to discover the God - even so the body which is there wishes to attain to an entire possession of itself, and to a point of glory which is supernatural .. But our body fares as does the soul, for which the God, and the wisdom, and the depth demanded of it are, and can only be, moments, flashes, fragments of alien time, desperate leaps out of its form.


Look, only look! ... She is dancing yonder and gives to the eyes what here you are trying to tell us ... She makes the instant be seen .... through what jewels she passes! She flings her gestures like scintillations ... She filches from nature impossible attitudes, even under the very eye of Time! .. And Time lets himself be fooled .... She passes through the absurd with impunity... She is divine in the Unstable, offers it as a gift to our regard! ...