When, in Midnight's Children, the character "Saleem Sinai" writes,
there is a comic element not found in the statement by Sophocles' "Philoctetes",
I must alone do everything for myself.
or Aeschylus, in "Agamemnon",
This is, in part the result of a kind of linguistic playfulness by Rushdie, one which heightens our attention to the shared space between the literal and the figurative. Within this space, Rushdie achieves a merged bathos and pathos, a critic might say.This may be true - but how does Rushdie do it?
In the quotations by Sophocles and Aeschylus, time only does one thing. For Philoctetes, it comes and goes. In Aeschylus, it cleanses. But in the Rushdie quotation, Time "settles down" and "concentrates" on something abstract. The statements, "Time settles in the importance of the moment" or "Time concentrates the importance of the moment" are serious, almost philosophical. But "Time settles down and concentrates on the importance of the moment" borders on comedy. A truly comic line might read like Pratchett: "Time settles down, concentrates on the importance of the moment, and opens a beer." Rushdie's semi-characterisation, however, leaves us hanging -- half chuckling, but also serious about this statement on time. Because for Aadam Aziz, this chance to expand his clientele is critical. On this day, slowness means intensity, not relaxation. Time settles down because Aziz cannot.