Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.
~ Fly Like an Eagle – Steve Miller Band
I’ve always been fascinated about time as a human construct since I was a kid. Like gravity, time is a unseen force, yet its influence on us informs every waking minute of our lives. We plan our days around minutes, our social lives around days of the week and we can plan our future, retirement and even our deaths based on what we think the future holds.
I remember a teacher in elementary school commenting once on the date and the time, saying something to the effect “You will never relive this exact same moment, again. This second, minute, hour, day, and year is gone.” I can’t recall what we were discussing, but something in the way he said it made a connection go off in my head. It wasn’t so much an epiphany as a waking to the truth of the matter.
We tend to measure time as if we can parcel out the exact minutes and seconds like some physical element like water or air, yet intuitively we all experience time differently. Our perception of time can slow down, speed up, and everything in between depending on the circumstances. Waiting to get news on something or sitting around a doctor’s waiting room, time can seem to crawl. In the heat of intense experience time can seem to elongate seconds stretching out to minutes. Even in life as we get older, the years tend feel like they come faster.
My interest in time has lead me to both read about in fiction and in non-fiction. In fiction I love reading about – you guessed it – time travel. If you are going to explore time and all its ramifications what better way than to turn the concept inside out and bend time. Time and by extension time travel has been used as a literary devices as long as there has been story telling. I started ‘collecting’ examples of time travel in 1999 on my website Andy’s Anachronisms.
Two non-fiction reads that I found fascinating are:
A Geography of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist, or How Every Culture Keeps Time Just a Little Bit Differently by Robert Levine
Time Lord : Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time by Clark Blaise
Both books look at how we perceive time culturally and how it influences how we behave & interact with the world around us.
I am always looking for more references both to time travel and the concept of time in general so feel free to share with me if you have any favourites.