“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”
How is the question posed by any simile, how is this to that, how are sands to hourglass, thus, so, are days to lives, and how are sands like days and how is the hourglass like our lives – after all, time = time, so how does this articulation, this hourglass configuration, of that equation (whose parallelism also poses the question of how like is to so, to which the structure of the sentence answers equal, equivalent, tantamount, even as it suspends and/or defers, the naming of the thing equalled until after the equivalence with it has been established (cf. My love is like a red red rose, or reread it like so, Like a red red rose, so is my love), in a kind of inversion of the hourglass which is both form and content here), or does it, extend our understanding of sands – how does this figure of speech of a sentence escape pure tautology as it pours through the comma and back; through is the answer given by the sentence, through is how sands are to hourglass, and days to our lives, moving from one side to the other, one now to another, passing falling filing through a passage, a mouth, an aperture, a tollbooth, a tunnel, through at a constant rate, whose constancy requires some wait time, just a moment of whooshing through preceded by a bottleneck and followed by a pileup, a piling up and reaggregation on the other side
: how again :
if not by being held in a potentially meaningful dynamic system, whose meaning lasts for just a little while, a set amount of time, until stasis is reached, a still state that could last forevermore, unless some prime mover turns the thing over so that sands can head back the other way again – meaningful only as long as that mover is watching, counting, and waiting outside, to interpret the passage of the sands – meaningless otherwise, those tiny specks of glass in the double-globed glass jar, meaningless their passage through its middle, its wasp waist, meaningless their stillness in the one globe or the other, meaningless the jar itself, unless our mover reads a quantum of time into and out of the mechanism – while outside of the hourglass sands mean even less, can mean little, other than, if anything, the passage of time, the duration of the tossing turning grinding down of minerals over eons by water, or rather by its tides, by the ocean’s own tossing from one side to the other and its turning back, by the motion of air, and by each other, the crashing and caressing of beautiful individuals no two alike, infinitesimally small each one, and in the aggregate unfathomably huge but equally meaningless – like the days of our lives, from which no escapism, but in each one of which some 42 minutes of familiar characters in the same old settings furthering multiple subplots can be counted on.
Alexandra Chasin is the author of Brief, Kissed By, Selling Out: The Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to Market, and Assassin of Youth: A Kaleidoscopic History of Harry J. Anslinger's War on Drugs. Associate Professor of Literary Studies at Lang College, The New School, Chasin lives and teaches and writes in New York City.