JIM INFANTINO

songwriter, author & nerd

I got a question regarding the Ballad of Barry Allen.

I got a question regarding the Ballad of Barry Allen

Barry Allen, the Fash, created by my uncle Carmine Infantino.

His question:

Hello Jim Infantino,

I was listening to your song "The Ballad of Barry Allen" and its a really enjoyable song, but very sad at the same time. I was hoping if you could explain the flash alittle more for me. In the song, it says things like "I've got time to think about my past as I dodge between the bullets how my life was so exciting before I got this way " and also " How I wish I'd never gone into my lab to experiment that night before lightning flashed around me". It seems like its hard for him to be the flash, and is that because everything is so slow? Like say he has to save someone in Florida and he is in Texas. In the human mind it would seem as 0.001 secs but to him does it take days? Is he able to speed up the process of things so it wouldn't take forever to get to places? Also last question, I know that he can read books really fast but does it take regular time in his mind, or he can just look at the words really fast. How does he perceive time? I have read so many reddit post, but I know you could give me logical answers because of the song you made and also because you are the nephew of the creator of the flash. So if you could help me understand, that would be great because he is my favorite superhero, and please if u could get deep into detail that would be awesome. Hope you have a nice day.

My response:

So, there was no real help from Carmine on this, I was just thinking about his Barry Allen character and the song is a thought experiment.

1. If you act and react in super speed, doesn't your mind need to be sped up to react to events around you? Hence, running from Florida to Texas, you would need to be sure not to trip over anything, or run into a car, so your mind needs to match your speed. If your mind remained slow while dodging bullets, or whisking someone away from a fall, you would not dodge, or catch accurately.
2. If your mind speeds up, your sense of time slows down. You would remember all the details, so your memory of the events would be in a slower timeframe than other people's. Looking back, events would be in slow motion. During time that the flash is sped up, events would elongate during those times, or maybe all the time, depending on whether he can turn it on and off. Except for the instances where he is actively dodging bullets or fighting foes, there's a lot of waiting for things to happen. He still has to put his costume on one leg at a time. The mind does not blur with his speed. Acting on instinct alone would not allow him to do things like get his costume on, or comprehend what he reads.
3. In the present moment, there is no sense of time, only now. Nothing happens now, things only happen when we compare now with before. In other words, we only measure the passing of time by remembering what has already happened. For the flash, a lot happens in a short period of time, so his days are longer.
So the line: "I've got time to think about my past as I dodge between the bullets, how my life was so exciting before I got this way " expresses (and this is just my take on it) Barry Allen's lack of patience with how slow events transpire around him when he is sped up. I leave the question open, whether is is always sped up, or only when he turns it on. From everyone else's point of view, his life must be very exciting, moving quickly, but for him, everything is slowed down so he can react to what is happening. He has to "wait for calamity to strike because when things change in an instant it's almost fast enough for me." In the song, he wishes he could experience events in normal time so that his life might be more exciting "before I got this way."
All this said, the song, in my point of view, is a metaphor for someone who is in a constant state of distraction, staying pretty much on the surface of things, always wishing for a more speedy moment, something exciting enough to keep him/her from staying put with the ordinary passage of time.
I hope this clears things up. Again, I never got to process this completely with my uncle. He liked the song, but we didn't discuss whether my ideas fit with his sense of the character. I think ultimately, he might have felt that I took the philosophical issues with the flash too far, but who knows?
Hope that helps. Thanks for asking.

updated: 7 months ago