Analog clocks—I love them. I photographed these last weekend. Anybody recognize them?

When you look at the hands and face of an analog clock you're looking at the past, present, and future, at once: a half day, so to speak, at least a kind of map of a half day. The hands (which are really more like arms) sweep around the face (which has its features, when it has them—numerals or dashes or, say, songbirds—arranged around the outside edge). In comparison, the little lit green numerals on our stovetop are as ineloquent as the fake clicks of our smart phones.

Telling time with a digital clock seems a little bit to me like navigating via a map on a smart phone, useful enough, but constraining. One closes down time. The other closes down space.

Funny how much context matters. Seven hundred or so years ago, when churches began building some of the earliest analog clocks in towers, of steel, they accelerated the growth of time consciousness. As it was the Middle Ages, however, the main impetus was to signal that it was time to pray: in other words, to pause. By the Industrial Revolution, however, clocks were akin to slave drivers, especially for the human cogs in the machine.

Today, timepieces are practically necessities of life. When our daughter was learning to tell time, we did tuck our digital clocks away. Her very first bedside clock was pink plastic with an illuminated ivory face—a full moon in a sunset sky. We hoped she'd grow up knowing how to read analog clocks at a glance. She did.

Add a y to analog, and you've got analogy—a strictly human concept, one that cannot exist without imagination. What (so-called) anachronism sparks your imagination?