The Third & Fourth Kirk Elbod Interviews:


P|       (I heard from Elbod again in early February. I was 
Y|  starting to resent his haphazard manner, his 
R|  arbitrariness, his aloofness, his own sense of himself as 
I|  one of those modern day romantic heroes that he maligned. 
G|  I resolved to be a bit aloof myself, indeed to treat the 
H|  man more as an ordinary man, and not this special person 
T|  he had set himself out to be.
||       And yet, as usual, I was unprepared for what I was 
1|  to see. He invited me to an old church in Durham that was 
9|  being restored. I arrived about eleven in the morning, 
8|  under an overcast sky which was still quite bright. I 
9|  went upstairs and found him teaching very young children. 
||  Kirk was reading stories to them in an animated fashion. 
B|  He had them sitting in front of him in a circle, as 
Y|  though he were the elder of a tribe who was relating 
||  myths of the tribe's gods. I noticed that the children 
R|  followed his every move, and were totally engrossed in 
I|  his performance. I watched and waited until the children 
C|  went into a separate room for lunch, and Kirk was free 
H|  for a while.
A|       He offered me some juice left over from the 
R|  kindergarten snack time and then guided me to a window 
D|  where we stared out over the city. It was a grand 
||  perspective, one of the best, since the church sat on a 
d|  high hill. From it we could see most of the major 
e|  landmarks, different neighborhoods, and the downtown.
G|       I was so surprised by this new aspect of Kirk that I 
A|  forgot what I was going to say.
R|       But he began quickly without my prompting.)
I|       ELBOD: History is neither dead or gone, even though 
S|  about ten years ago,Dr. David Herbert Donald, a Pulitzer 
||  Prize winning historian and Harvard history professor 
D|  wrote a letter to the New York Times, stating that it 
O|  was. And the very odd things is that no one since then 
B|  has been able to refute his argument.
L|       What he said specifically was that history was no 
E|  longer relevant to the modern world. To quote Dr. Donald, 
||  "What undergraduates want from their history teachers is 
A|  an understanding of how the American past relates to the 
L|  present and the future. But if I teach what I believe to 
L|  be the truth, I can only share with them my sense of the 
||  irrelevance of history and of the bleakness of the new 
R|  era we are entering."
I|       There may be a speck of truth in what he said, i.e. 
G|  history probably cannot solve today's problems. But he 
H|  has thrown the baby out with the bath water. History is 
T|  our point of reference. It is how we got to the point we 
S|  are at today. It is, in fact, who we are - but I am 
||  getting ahead of myself.
R|       Look through the windows, here, out at the city. I 
E|  have taken a sixty year old map of Durham and have driven 
S|  through the town as though only the old roads existed. I 
E|  saw what I thought I would see -- mostly old homes, old 
R|  factories, old trees, old neighborhoods. When I followed 
V|  the old map exclusively, I traveled the city as if it 
E|  were old. It took a newer map to show me the newer parts. 
D|  So know that the older map, which is out of date, has 
||  meaning for me today.
||       And of course this is true for most towns unless 
C|  there has been wholesale renovation. But even then I find 
O|  it's very rare that a road, once built, is ever 
P|  destroyed. A majority of the roads on the old maps still 
Y|  exist today. You can, for example, still follow the Blue 
R|  Highways marked on the Rand McNally road map published in 
I|  1920s.
G|       In fact if you look at maps of the Piedmont, 
H|  hundreds of years old, you will see roads that roughly 
T|  mark out where the fourlane interstate is today. It seems 
||  that these roads had been an Indian trail before.
1|       So I don't believe history is dead, any more than I 
9|  believe that what my parents did has had no effect on me. 
8|  Any more that I believe that what I teach these children 
9|  will have no effect on them even after I'm dead. Each of 
||  us carries our history with us, even though we forget 
B|  this in the present.
Y|       What Dr. Donald forgot is what I call the "vanishing 
||  point" of history and time.
R|       TALBOT: Well tell me what it is, even though I'm 
I|  sure you were going to anyway without my asking.
C|       (Kirk glared slightly at me, but with a tinge of a 
H|  smile and continued)
A|       ELBOD: Saul Steinberg drew a famous New Yorker cover 
R|  depicting a New Yorker's view of the world. It showed 
D|  Manhattan as huge, all of New Jersey as smaller than NYC, 
||  and the rest of the US diminishing in size and definition 
d|  (with humorous titles) the further you went away from the 
e|  city. Now this is a "vanishing point" view of the world. 
G|  Meaning that the further you get from your point of 
A|  reference, NYC in this case, what you envision, or 
R|  imagine, gets increasingly smaller and less defined. 
I|       When I visited Washington D.C. not too long ago, I 
S|  noticed a rack of huge blow-ups of this New Yorker cover. 
||  Only to my surprise, each one was from a different 
D|  perspective. A view of the world from Hawaii , from 
O|  Chicago, from Miami, etc. In each case the foreground 
B|  "point of departure" was huge, such as Miami, and then 
L|  increasingly the world got less and less defined and 
E|  smaller and smaller the further you got from the initial 
||  point. Someone had a great sense of humor to put these 
A|  all together, so that you could buy your own biased view 
L|  of the world.
L|       Me: (getting impatient) And what does this have to 
||  with history?
R|       ELBOD: Simple. This is how we view time. Recent 
I|  events in time loom very large, ones somewhat further 
G|  away are less important, ones many years away, of very 
H|  little importance. A vanishing point in time.
T|       And this is how it should be: recent events are 
S|  going to have much more impact on us than events long 
||  ago.
R|       Even historians recognize this. For example, when I 
E|  took a basic Western History course in college, we spent 
S|  more time on the Romans than the Egyptians. More time on 
E|  the Renaissance than the Romans. More time on the modern 
R|  world than on the Renaissance. In short the closer we got 
V|  to the modern day, the more detail was covered.
E|       Now Dr. Donald of Harvard had been teaching for a 
D|  number of years. When he started in the 1940s Teddy 
||  Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt were very important. But 
||  during his long career he decided that this time in 
C|  history was less relevant than it used to be. When he 
O|  thought about it, he realized it did not matter which 
P|  Roosevelt carried the big stick, so he concluded that 
Y|  history was not important. That you could go through life 
R|  and live a perfectly useful, moral life without knowing 
I|  about these things.
G|       However during his long career other events had 
H|  overtaken him. Such as Korea, the cold war, Vietnam, the 
T|  space program, and Watergate. Now these more recent 
||  things are important to know. And it is only natural that 
1|  our view of the increasingly distant past will get vaguer 
9|  and vaguer as we keep up with more recent events.
8|       TALBOT: So are you saying that it doesn't matter 
9|  whether we know about the American revolution? Is this 
||  too distant for us to bother with?
B|       ELBOD: Yes and no.. I'm saying that very important 
Y|  distant events which still affect us today, such as the 
||  American revolution and the civil war, need to be 
R|  understood in broad detail, but not fine detail. However, 
I|  we ought to concentrate our efforts on recent history, 
C|  three generations into the past. This time period is the 
H|  most important.
A|       For example, I think today it is important to 
R|  understand the history of the world from about 1930 to 
D|  the present. This includes the causes leading to the 2nd 
||  World War, the war itself, and the post war period. Again 
d|  I would want to understand the most recent events in more 
e|  detail than the more distant events.
G|       But the mistake is to think that history is dead and 
A|  gone. History is alive. For example, our personal history 
R|  is who we are. A family is its shared memories. I make 
I|  choices based on my understanding of things my father did 
S|  and maybe even my grandfathers. Further back than that my 
||  "vanishing point" view of my personal history gets dim. 
D|       But, Dr. Donald is advocating national amnesia. 
O|  Imagine that each of us woke up one morning and could 
B|  only remember the recent past. If you wanted to you could 
L|  look up things in a book, as Dr. Donald suggested, but it 
E|  was not in your memory. Where would you start? You would 
||  not know where to begin. You would have no background 
A|  information to work from, no frame work.
L|       In short people would feel dislocated, alienated, 
L|  frustrated, out of place. And this is exactly what Dr. 
||  Donald is advocating.
R|       Slaves in the south were kept in total ignorance as 
I|  to their location. Even if they escaped, they did not 
G|  know where to go and thus were easily captured and 
H|  returned. So ignorance is a form of confinement, a 
T|  limiting influence. Each of us needs to have "mental 
S|  maps" of how the modern world came into being, so that we 
||  can better understand our position in this world, how we 
R|  got where we are. If this map is blank then we are flying 
E|  blind. We are to some extent lost. And since time is one 
S|  of the four dimensions of the world, as Einstein has 
E|  stated, an ignorance about history means that a person's 
R|  life is not fully realized; it is three dimensional but 
V|  not four dimensional.
E|       (For a moment the sun broke through a hole in the 
D|  clouds. Parts of the downtown were illuminated by shafts 
||  of light, in brilliant highlights and shadows.)
||       Let me go back to the example of amnesia. If each of 
C|  us woke up one morning and could not remember any 
O|  history, even how the United States came into existence, 
P|  e.g. not remember anything about the American revolution 
Y|  or that we had immigrated from Europe, then I believe we 
R|  could not function effectively as citizens. We could not 
I|  make informed decisions about issues, understand our 
G|  place in the world, or have an understanding of the laws 
H|  that govern us. Therefore to answer Dr. Donald's implied 
T|  question: under these circumstances, no, we could not be 
||  good citizens.
1|       Further history is not just what Harvard or any one 
9|  else says about it. It is an endless unbroken thread, 
8|  some of which is written down in books studied in college 
9|  and most of which isn't. As Gerda Lerner, author of the 
||  Creation of Patriarchy said, we must distinguish between 
B|  History, with a capital "H" and history with a small "h". 
Y|  History with a capital "H" represents recorded and 
||  interpreted history. And history with a small "h" 
R|  involves unrecorded history and/or history which has not 
I|  been focussed on and interpreted. Nowadays historians are 
C|  reaching back into time and and revising a lot of our 
H|  notions of how things occurred. In a manner of speaking, 
A|  they are creating new histories, because they are 
R|  collecting, arranging, and interpreting past events in 
D|  new ways.
||       Historians of women, for example, are trying to 
d|  discover the lost history of females. Because it is 
e|  obvious that women have always been a past of history, 
G|  but little has been included in History with a capital 
A|  "H". So in a sense they are discovering the past.
R|       And history is allusive. Imagine that I made an 
I|  appointment yesterday for a meeting tomorrow. Well 
S|  yesterday is history but I'd better remember to be at my 
||  appointment tomorrow or I'm in big trouble. To use the 
D|  old joke, "Today is the tomorrow you worried about 
O|  yesterday." This may seem like a simple example but where 
B|  do you draw the line? Are things a year ago history and 
L|  events since then current time? I know of a daughter who 
E|  is suffering an ailment from a drug her mother took 
||  thirty years ago, when her mother was pregnant with her. 
A|  Is this where you draw the line? There are recurring 
L|  histories of diseases and susceptibilities to diseases 
L|  that run for generations through families and affect 
||  people today. So where do you draw the line.?
R|       And if this is true for individuals then how true is 
I|  it for nations?
G|       Recently the Russians and the Americans held a 
H|  conference on what happened during the Cuban missile 
T|  crisis. Now this event was over twenty-five years ago. 
S|  Yet the conference was important and may affect us today. 
||  Because through the conference the superpowers may have 
R|  learned ways to prevent such a crisis from re-occurring.
E|       And another news item comes to mind. The queen of 
S|  England has made plans to visit the U.S.S.R. Which will 
E|  be the first time an English monarch has visited Russia 
R|  since the execution of their ancestral cousins, the 
V|  Romanovs, during the Russian revolution. And this visit, 
E|  which reaches back into time about sixty years, will help 
D|  thaw relations between England and the Soviets. So in 
||  these two examples, it is clear that even the distant 
||  past can effect the present.
C|       But we must come to terms with the dynamics of time 
O|  and the human needs. Recent history has got to be more 
P|  important than history ten years ago , which is still 
Y|  more important than history twenty years ago and so on. 
R|  Like looking into a mist. Things up close are distinct. 
I|  Things get blurrier and blurrier until we really cannot 
G|  make out much of anything. 
H|       It still history but recent events, and those 
T|  preceding them need to be given more weight. Which is as 
||  it should be.
1|       But if we forget all of the past in our mad rush 
9|  toward the new, we will have forgotten why we wanted all 
8|  these new things when we get there. 
9|       (He paused and I realized that I had said almost 
||  nothing, in spite of my stern resolution to myself at the 
B|  start of the interview. I began to speak but with one of 
Y|  his looks he indicated to me that he was finished. He 
||  lead me down the stairs, out the parking lot and then 
R|  drove away in a '65 Ford Falcon with a loud engine. It 
I|  seemed that our third interview was history.)
e|       (After thinking about Kirk Elbod's discussion of 
G|  history, I decided this time to track him down myself. At 
A|  the beginning of March around noon, I went to the old 
R|  church where he had been teaching. The sky was stormy, 
I|  with dark low hanging clouds. As I arrived, all hell 
S|  broke loose. It seemed as if the skies had opened and 
||  rain gushed from every gutter around the church. Water 
D|  dripping from my clothes and my umbrella, I ran into the 
O|  foyer. Kirk saw me coming and went into an adjoining 
B|  room. I followed him. 
L|       "Kirk, I have a number of questions that I want to 
E|  ask you about our last interview", I said in my most 
||  forceful manner. "Can we talk some time, soon?" 
A|       Again he surprised me. "How about now, I'm going to 
L|  go get some lunch." And without another word, he lead me 
L|  down the stairs. We ran out through the rain, jumped into 
||  his noisy 65 Falcon, and drove to a downtown lunch 
R|  counter in Woolworth's department store.
I|       A number of people waved, and said hello as we 
G|  arrived. We sat down on some old fashion rotating stools. 
H|  The waitress came over and asked if he was going to have 
T|  the "usual". "Yes," was the reply, "and one for my friend 
S|  here as well." Then he turned to me.)
||       K.E. Your probably wondering why I brought you here 
R|  (he said in a humorous tone of voice, recalling the old 
E|  joke). It's because of the short order cook.
S|       TALBOT: (Getting a bit impatient) I don't care about 
E|  the cook. I want to continue our discussion about 
R|  history.
V|       ELBOD: Precisely my dear Talbot (he said again with 
E|  a smirk). History is about time and our concept of time. 
D|  Watch the short order cook! The way he perfectly balances 
||  all the elements of an order so they come out all at the 
||  same time. First the burger on the grill which takes the 
C|  longest to cook. Then he slices some lettuce, tomato and 
O|  puts it on the side. When the burger is almost done he 
P|  toasts the buns under the grill, and when the burger is 
Y|  completely done he toasts the cheese for just a second. 
R|  Then, in one swift motion, he puts them all together on 
I|  the plate, along with the mayonnaise and mustard and at 
G|  last (we watched two burgers get passed to a waitress who 
H|  put them in front of us) it arrives in front of me, with 
T|  everything timed right. The perfect burger and the best 
||  short order cook I've ever seen. (With this I only could 
1|  wait because he was devouring his burger, and it was 
9|  clear I would get no sentences out of him until he was 
8|  through. Together we sat in silence as we ate our food.)
9|       Me: (finally when we had finished) I believe the 
||  Harvard professor my be right. That we can lead perfectly 
B|  good, useful lives, have children, be involved in our 
Y|  community and not know much about history, except perhaps 
||  a few essential facts.
R|       ELBOD: Superficially he is right. But the US is a 
I|  democracy, and as such the people vote based on the 
C|  information they have. What if their understanding is 
H|  just plain wrong, and they make decisions based on a 
A|  misunderstanding of history.
R|       TALBOT: I don't think it could be that serious.
D|       ELBOD: Judge for yourself. According to a poll most 
||  Americans think today that the Russians fought on the 
d|  side of the Nazi's in World War II. In fact the reverse 
e|  is true - not only did the Russians fight against the 
G|  Nazis, they suffered more deaths than any other single 
A|  nation or ethnic group.
R|       TALBOT: And your point?
I|       ELBOD: That today, right now, we might be spending 
S|  less money on armaments, and defense if the majority of 
||  citizens believed the truth instead of misinformation. We 
D|  might have saved billions of dollars if the public knew 
O|  the facts. And this is just one example.
B|       Now, as you know I'm not suggesting that everyone 
L|  know all the history there is. My notion of the 
E|  "vanishing point of history" means that we mainly need to 
||  understand recent history in detail, by which I mean 
A|  about ten years before World War II to the present.
L|       But clearly a majority of people do not.
L|       TALBOT: Well, there will always be experts who can 
||  interpret present events in terms of history for us. Why 
R|  not leave it to them?
I|       ELBOD: Another specialist! (He almost shouted.) 
G|  Specialization is an entirely another subject. But 
H|  leaving history to the experts means that we will feel 
T|  even more alienated than we already do in modern society. 
S|  If we have to go to an expert to understand our own 
||  past...(he made an exasperated expression, reaching his 
R|  hands into the air)
E|       One of the main complaints I hear about the modern 
S|  world is that people feel a lack of connection. A feeling 
E|  of not engaging; alienation. But much of this is the 
R|  fault of the individuals, not the big corporations and 
V|  big government who usually get blamed. If you want to 
E|  feel a part of your own time, and culture you need to do 
D|  the work yourself; understand history yourself, for 
||  example.
||       But also specialists, hired by certain people, can 
C|  put their own interpretation, their own "spin" on 
O|  history, which is what they do in Russia and what the 
P|  Nazis did. In fact they can reinterpret history and 
Y|  redefine history to suit whoever hires them. In the book 
R|  "1984", George Orwell warned us against things like this. 
I|  Is this what we want in a democracy?
G|       Let me give you a for instance.
H|       Suppose that the United States had fought for 2 
T|  years on Russian soil, aiding armies whose purpose was to 
||  destroy Soviet Russia? If this were true, wouldn't it 
1|  explain some of the current Soviet attitude toward the 
9|  U.S., some of their military obsessions and paranoia.
8|       TALBOT: Yes, but of course it isn't true.
9|       ELBOD: Wrong, it is true. And very few people in the 
||  U.S. are aware that this ever happened. United States 
B|  forces were in Archangel and Siberia from 1918 to 1920 
Y|  aiding the White Army whose purpose was to destroy the 
||  recently established Soviet government.
R|       Now a very interesting thing happens when you try to 
I|  find this incident in a reference book, as Dr. Donald 
C|  suggested we do. You don't find it, at least in half the 
H|  books I read. It is not even mentioned. One sixth of the 
A|  books got their facts wrong. And only one third of the 
R|  books I referred to had their history correct.
D|       So this is what happens, even in a democracy, when 
||  you try to look up an incident that everyone would rather 
d|  forget.
e|       Let me attack the question from another perspective. 
G|  Every time I see a news story on TV about a home being 
A|  destroyed by fire, or tornado, or some such total 
R|  disaster, the people invariably say "Even my photographs 
I|  are gone." That's what they miss the most. Why? Because 
S|  they can replace everything else, if they are insured, 
||  but not the photographs. Part of them is gone. The photos 
D|  which are their personal history have been lost, and they 
O|  feel as though a piece of themselves was destroyed. Which 
B|  it has been.
L|       Now those photos are history, not stuffy academic 
E|  history but a personal, important, essential history 
||  which is badly missed when it is eliminated.
A|       Dr. Donald's way of thinking cuts off our connection 
L|  to the past. But history is our point of reference. It is 
L|  where we come from. The past is where most of our 
||  concepts, our culture, and our language originated. Why 
R|  else would we use a word like "horsepower" to describe a 
I|  highly technical, modern engine? (He laughed.)
G|       TALBOT: To go back to why you brought me here: You 
H|  said that history had to do with our sense of time. 
T|       ELBOD: Yes, and the short order cook here.
S|       Look at the cook again. Suppose he left the rolls in 
||  too long and they burned, or he didn't cook the hamburger 
R|  long enough so it was a bit raw. Then he wouldn't be a 
E|  good cook.
S|       He is juggling, balancing each portion of the task 
E|  so that even though the parts take different amount of 
R|  time, they all are ready at the same time. A juggler, if 
V|  you will. A time juggler in fact. And a very good one.
E|       TALBOT: And what does this cook have to do with 
D|  history? 
||       ELBOD: We think history is unimportant, because we 
||  believe history is in the past and does not affect us. 
C|  Dr. Donald's main criticism, in fact, was that the study 
O|  of history was no longer relevant to today's world. But 
P|  perhaps the past does effect us, more than we realize, in 
Y|  the present.
R|       So the question really is one about time. Now, I do 
I|  not pretend to begin to understand all the subtleties 
G|  about time, but I do know that there is more to time than 
H|  meets the eye. So let me indulge in some speculation 
T|  here.
||       TALBOT: Why, that very humble of you Kirk. 
1|       ELBOD: What is time? This is the key question. What 
9|  is the past, the present , and the future? Once something 
8|  is done, can it be undone? Is their any point in crying 
9|  over spilt milk? We are always "another day older and 
||  deeper in debt" and the river that you put you foot into 
B|  is never the same. Is time the relentless forward 
Y|  movement of the ticking clock?
||       It turns out that our sense of time, according to 
R|  psychological studies, is triggered by events. When an 
I|  event ends, one begins, or something significant happens 
C|  within an event, then we feel the passage of time. In a 
H|  sense the clock is a series of artificial, mechanical 
A|  events which makes us acutely conscious of time, perhaps 
R|  too conscious, or even self conscious - but I'll save 
D|  that for another discussion.
||       However, life is lived by the ticking of events and 
d|  more by the dynamics of events. It's as though each of us 
e|  is a time juggler. We juggle a number of separate events 
G|  in the air as we go though our lives. Not unlike the 
A|  short order cook, only the events are larger.
R|       TALBOT: You've lost me completely. I don't 
I|  understand.
S|       ELBOD: My point is that time is subtle. And events 
||  which give us a sense of time also have dynamics all 
D|  their own. There is time within an event to make changes, 
O|  in a sense to go back into time, until that event is 
B|  over. This idea is expressed, for example, in the phrase 
L|  "in time." Such as: I caught the jug of milk "in time", 
E|  to prevent it from spilling; because I knew that if the 
||  jug fell and broke it would be too late; the event would 
A|  be finished; and then there would be no use crying over 
L|  spilt milk; instead I would be looking for the mop.
L|       TALBOT: Very cute Kirk (I said rather snidely)
||       ELBOD: (Ignoring me) The assumption is that the past 
R|  is the past, over and done with - which is why people 
I|  think they don't need to understand history. But my point 
G|  is that time is in reality a myriad of overlapping 
H|  events. And that within an event you may be able to - in 
T|  a sense - reach back into time, by being able to affect 
S|  changes. Or things from the past can effect the present.
||       Events are like time areas or time spaces. However, 
R|  these spaces in themselves, are very subtle. They are 
E|  like "windows of opportunity". The windows can close - 
S|  sometimes suddenly and sometimes gradually. When they do, 
E|  we can no longer affect changes: "the opportunity has 
R|  been lost" or the "time is gone". 
V|       We do this everyday, but don't really think about 
E|  it. Before I leave the house to go on a trip I have the 
D|  opportunity to remember a notebook I've forgotten, pick 
||  it up, put it in the car. I can do this any time before I 
||  leave.
C|       But once I've driven away then it become harder and 
O|  harder to do this. Five minutes down the road I still 
P|  could, although it would be annoying. Two hours down the 
Y|  road and I'll just have to do the best with what I've 
R|  got, make do without the forgotten notebook. The time to 
I|  easily pick up the notebook and put it in my car is gone. 
G|  And besides I've got to get to my appointments now and it 
H|  would make me late.
T|       In an accident when things happen unexpectedly, 
||  quickly, and violently we may only have split seconds to 
1|  try things, or do things before the accident has run it 
9|  course and whatever we do will be of no use. "What's done 
8|  is done".
9|       These areas of time can be quite large such as the 
||  life of a nation, an era, person's life time, or quite 
B|  short as in an accident. There may be many separate areas 
Y|  that overlap and interweave. Some may close imperceptibly 
||  slowly, and others maddeningly quickly. Each area seems 
R|  to have its own dynamics.
I|       As an occasional photographer, I know about this. 
C|  Photographers in fact, seem to develop a sixth sense 
H|  about time because frequently taking a photograph 
A|  requires being at the right place at the right time, 
R|  whatever that may be. For example, when I take nature 
D|  pictures outdoors there may be hours when I can take a 
||  number of pictures over and over until I get exactly what 
d|  I want. But all the time the sun is moving, the clouds 
e|  may be building. Suddenly I look up and there's a bank of 
G|  clouds covering the sun and I realize that I can no 
A|  longer take pictures that day. It may be a day, or a 
R|  months before I can get back, according to my schedule or 
I|  the weather. In the meantime the foliage may have changed 
S|  or someone may have bought the land and bulldozed it, 
||  which has happened more than once. When I return the 
D|  place may or may not be the same as the time before. 
O|       A death bed confession is an example of a person 
B|  using a last opportunity to set things straight, to do 
L|  something before they die, before the window closes on 
E|  them and they can no longer act. What they confess may 
||  have happened when they were very young, and they may 
A|  have carried it all their lives. But before they die the 
L|  window is still open for them to act. In effect, they 
L|  want to reach back into time and set the record straight. 
||  In a sense a person 's life, from birth to death is one 
R|  event. 
I|       TALBOT: (I could sense he was through.) So what your 
G|  saying is that past, present, and future are not so clear 
H|  as they appear to be and that some of history is still 
T|  part of the present if we can only understand it in the 
S|  proper light.
||       ELBOD: Yes, and also that we need to try to 
R|  understand the dynamics of time, because as humans, in a 
E|  sense, all we really have is time.
S|       (With a summing up sentence like that I knew that 
E|  our interview was over. The storm had subsided. He gave 
R|  me a ride back to the church and then quickly vanished 
V|  upstairs. I tried to follow him and make our next 
E|  appointment but couldn't locate him anywhere. It was as 
D|  though he had disappeared in the church. And again I was 
||  left with a strange taste in my mouth of having been 
||  tricked in some fashion but also intrigued.) 

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