Inspired by Eva Hoffman’s book Time, I will be writing a series of blogs in the coming days. Given that I can expend only a certain amount of words on each blog upon your tired eyes, I will take Time to spend more Time on elaborating about Time.
Eva Hoffman has authored a series of books, the most famous till recently, has been, Lost in Translation. In this elegant and slim, but deceptively simple looking book, “Time”, she has expounded her ideas on Time using the tools of our modern technology. Time has always been studied from different angles and perspectives, but has nevertheless been relegated to the musings of philosophers.
Her four essays, “Time and Body”, “Time and the Mind”, “Time and Culture” and “Time in our Time” take you across the full spectrum of Time, back and forth. And you are left pondering about the “Future Time”. She takes you across the cosmology and physiology of Time, from neuroscience and into the most darkest recesses of our consciousness to understand Time from all its dimensions.
It takes Time to go through this book. You need to savor it, ponder over the lines and words, and I had to revisit the essay on Time and the Mind twice!
Hoffman sprinkles her essays with her own experience of Time when she was a child in Poland and, to Europe and America, as an immigrant. She paints a lazy picture of the time spent by the people in communist countries as compared to the hustle and bustle of America, and to the quaint Time periods often captured in some spots of Europe. She also explores what Time today costs us and what exactly “lived time” has evolved into. How technology and medical advancement has brought about longevity, but our lives are still governed by “measured time”, which has now come to equal the old adage, Time=Money. One is often reminded of the March Hare in “Alice and Wonderland” who forever is late and believes its tea-time as his friend the Hatter has supposedly “murdered time”.
This books is rich in information and detail. Hoffman’s bibliography stretches across disciplines, from biology, culture, psychoanalysis to neuroscience. Hoffman also explores the many scientific as well as artistic treatments that help individuals deal with the stress of Time, especially on the rise being ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), now seen as a result of our “hurried and harried” times, and, very visible in the growing generation.
The one thing that I missed in her essay, “Time and Culture” that would have added a zing, is an exploration of Time adages and proverbs that we have all grown up with – “A stitch in Time saves Nine”, “A little too late is much too late”, ” All good things come to he who waits”, “Procrastination is the thief of time”,”The early bird catches the early worm”, etc. Exploring Time through these adages and proverbs across different cultures and across various eras, would have painted before us the progress of Time itself- of how Time has marched on!
Nonetheless, this is a must read book, if you have pondered and deliberated on Time itself. What should you be doing with your Time, how can you spend it fruitfully, will Time cease when Life ceases – are questions that are woven into her four essays. But this cannot be read and kept aside. You will find yourself going back to it often to reread and ponder on her passages of Time.