Reflections On Time

Nothin’ But Time…
During the recent period of electoral limbo, and out-of-season Midwestern weather (not to mention an ongoing pandemic), I found myself reflecting upon the nature of Time. I turned to a book that I have read and reread for over twenty-five years called Einstein’s Dreams. This novel is a small, poetic rumination by physicist Alan Lightman, told in a series of vignettes that explore the intrinsic nature of time and our relationship to it. Each short chapter imagines a world in which time is refracted by a young Einstein’s evolving theories.

For instance, there exists a world in which time is a flow of water where, caught in a back stream, people are carried into a past in which they fear doing anything that will alter their future stories. Or time has three dimensions, like space, three chains of events all happening simultaneously. Or there are two times, mechanical time and body time, each time is true, but the truths are not the same. Or an acausal world where people are free to live in the moment because erratic time has freed them from cause and effect. As I read these glorious little episodes again, I thought about other authors who have toyed with time bending. I’ve included some of those titles here. As Jeanette Winterson ponders in the prelude to her phenomenal novel Sexing the Cherry: “The Hopi, an Indian Tribe, have a language as sophisticated as ours, but no tenses for past, present and future. The division does not exist. What does this say about time?”

Other novels that play with the concept of time and parallel universes:

Non-fiction books that address the concept of time: