Magritte Transfixes Time, Warps Space Poem by Paul Hartal

Magritte Transfixes Time, Warps Space

The Surrealist Belgian painter Rene Magritte,1898-1967,
astounds and surprises us with his thought provoking
and intriguing images.
Some of this artist-thinker's paintings lead the viewer
to Einstein's Theory of Relativity.
Take, for instance, Magrite's 1938 canvas,
Time Transfixed (147 cm x 98 cm) .
This work features a locomotive emerging
from a fireplace located in a dining room.
Above the fireplace a clock shows the time.
The image emerges as a painted metaphor
for a pivotal tenet of the Theory of Relativity,
namely, that traveling at the speed of light,
a physical constant of 300.000 kms per second,
time dilates so much that it encompasses
both past and future and becomes eternal present.

Another astonishing painting of Magritte,
The Glasshouse, painted a year later,
is a small gouache with the dimensions
of 32cm x 38cm. This is a portrait of a man
resembling the artist.
The picture shows the subject's face
looking at the viewer
in a seemingly impossible way,
as the eyes stare
at you through skull and hair, simultaneously
from the front and the rear.
Now, this painting represents a cogent trope
of what happens to space when one travels
at the velocity of light,300,000 kilometers
per second, or approaching this speed.

At lightspeed space space undergoes
a radical transformation, it infinitely flattens
and would becoume infinitely thin
around the traveler. The rear would move
around to the front and daylight would fuse
with nighttime sky. Magritte's painting
playfully illustrates the warping of space
at the speed of light: due to the compression
of space the traveller looking forward
cannot see beyond the warped wall of space
and the only wisible thing for him would be
the back of his head.

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