Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Time Machine - What Would Ali Do?

At my university's history blog I write for, we always ask our interviewees one question, whether they're a lecturer or a librarian - if you had a time machine for one trip, when and where would you go, and why?

I've heard some responses to these questions but none of them have been quite as curious and meticulous as my mind when I contemplate my answer to it. As it's a lengthy debate, I thought it'd be a great idea to blog about it, and hopefully inspire others to write their own responses!

Not only am I a History student, but I'm also a sci-fi geek, so time travel is a topic I've raised in my own mind for the majority of my life. For this reason, I have a million different answers to this question, but first I need to break it down:

How long will my trip last? Ten minutes or a year?
If it's ten minutes , I want to go to a crucial turning point in time when so much happened in those ten minutes, so I could say I was there for that dramatic moment. Perhaps when victory was announced in England in 1945.
If it's a few hours, I'd want to be in the audience for a Greek play, perhaps Oedipus, not because of the topic but because it holds such great significance in Greek theatre.
If the time machine can only drop me off and leave me there, then I'd go somewhere a little closer to home - Britain in 1973. I'd like to witness all the great musicians just as they started making it big - Queen, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, T Rex, Barry Manilow. I'd love nothing more than to witness them all performing live, back in the day when music was flawless. Then I'd live through the 80s and 90s soaking up every moment. Those who lived through those decades can't see why I love them so much, but then again I can't see why someone would want to go back to the 90s when I grew up.

Can I change an event and alter the space-time continuum?
If so, I'd prevent Freddie Mercury from meeting the man who gave him (and Kenny Everett, if I'm not mistaken) AIDS. The world would be a brighter place today.

Am I visible to others on my trip? Or am I invisible?
If I'm invisible, I can appear anywhere on the planet without any confrontation or danger. Then I'd want to be in Beijing on the night of June 4th 1989. I want to be standing in Tiananmen Square to find out what really happened. Of course, I've considered the fact I'd have to witness deaths, but I plan on spending my life academically researching the topic, so seeing it first hand would help me greatly.

Can I interact with people without affecting the future?
I'd like to meet a numerous amount of people just to interact with them - Ryan Dunn, William Shakespeare (who I recently found out I'm very distantly related to), Freddie Mercury, John Lennon, Truman Capote, Juvenal, but specifically Kenneth Williams. If you don't know him by name, he always played the snobbish part in Carry On movies. I'd love to just hear him speak, rambling about his piles, anything. He's an absolute inspiration to me.

Can I visit my own timeline?
If so, I'd visit myself just before I die, and if I'm dying happy, then I can return to my life before with relief. However, if I'm not dying happy, then I can return to the present day and do everything in my power to rectify that. I know some people wouldn't want to know when they die for the sake of spoilers, but I like the thought, being the morbid person I am.

So in summary, I have no real answer to the question. I only make more questions and confuse myself with it. But I guess that's better than resigning myself to one response, because if time travel does appear in my lifetime, I need to keep my options open!

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

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  1. How very interesting! If I could go back in time, I'd probably try and make Morrissey fall in love with me, but then I think he probably wouldn't write amazing music if he were happy and in love. I think I'd still love him regardless, but imagine the amount of people I'd have robbed The Smiths from. Mental.

    Another thing I'd probably go back for would be to have a lecture from C. S. Lewis or watch Beatrix Potter draw the very first Peter Rabbit :)


  2. That's a really interesting question, and I love how you've broken it down. Yay for Kenneth! I love the Carry On films.
    Although now I'm going to be up all night thinking about this.

    ps. would you kill Hitler?


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