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A Sideways Look at Time Paperback – March 8, 2004
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"An exercise indeed in Dharma, Poetry, and Philosophy."
Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet
About the Author
Jay Griffiths' writing has appeared in The London Review of Books, The Guardian, The Observer, The Ecologist magazine, and Resurgence magazine, of which she is an associate editor.
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Author does not consider that many people live in big cities today because this is where the jobs are. Today, we need to use a watch, and show up for meetings on time. Not everybody has the luxury to live a life of quiet contemplation, surrounded by nature, without a need to show up on time for meetings or work.
This book reflects a self-absorbed, self-indulgent view of the world. There are some interesting facts and observations, but the book would greatly benefit from a more balanced approach. The editor clearly failed here: the book should have been better organized, and the redundancy eliminated. Often, one or two examples are enough: what type of a reader will need ten examples supporting a single concept or idea?
The author forces readers to endure ENDLESS, unbroken, unnavigable prose, which is occasionally interspersed with some (obviously) well researched factoids about how different cultures and different historical periods view the measurement of time and their relationship to it. Unfortunately, there is NOTHING to break up this relentless diatribe, save for an occasional quote: No subheads, no photos, no imagery at all -- just 360 pages of regurgitated research into time, separated only by 13 chapter titles!
Reading this book is worse than slogging through a text book. I suppose that readers should be grateful that the author saw fit to use appropriate paragraph breaks and a few quotes, or this book would be one LLLOOONNNNGGGG paragraph -- which is how it reads!!
Over-all, "Sideways" is a totally different take on the conventional concept of time and is heavily influenced by native culture's since of time and space. A very eye-opening and engaging read.
The new literary genre invented by Jay Griffiths is splendid, wide-ranging and illuminating. Shapeless concerns are articulated spontaneously and you will get fascinated with your new outlook in life. Sift through this compendious book for strands of gold.
The author may be self-indulgent but her arguments are irresistible and provocative.
Analyze and enjoy the following nuggets of wisdom from her book :
1) It is not that time passes, but ourselves. Time is always there... as long as there is life to use it.
2) Time has immediacy and radiance. It is a sensual perception and not a notation.
3) Time is not inert. We live with the past and present altogether. The past lives in the present spiritual values.
4) We live forwards but we understand backwards.
5) Have just a few hours everyday that are inviolate.
6) Children live in the heart of the ocean of time itself, in an everlasting Now. A child's eternal present is present-absorbed, present-spontaneous and present-elastic. Children have a dogged, delicious disrespect for punctuality.
7) Speed is deceptive and alluring, cruel, adrenaline-pounding and fascistic. Language too is driven faster and faster. Markets become super/hyper markets. Words are pressed from text to hypertext, not to supersede but to hypersede themselves.
8) In prostitution alone, the phrase `Time is money' is almost true.
9) The earth is sacred. It is not for violation, exploitation or negotiation. It is to be cared for, to be conserved.
10) With industrial agriculture, genetic engineering and biotechnology, time is reduced to a sequence of numbers without the vibrancy of natural seasons. Divorcing time and nature makes an artifice of Time and artifact of Nature.
11) Particularity is lost on the Information Super Highway. Being a virtual everywhere is an actual nowhere. It is a Teflon place, wiped clean of muddy, earthly reality. Every act in virtual time is final, finite and finished. No human act is.
12) Computinglish, the type of language dominant today -overweighing command structures and undervaluing language's playful, seductive and gainsaying subtleties, its ambiguities and nuances, disagreements and disobediences.
13) The word `Will' is not innocent. What will be is not in the lap of some-God-of-the-future, but is an act of will, an act of power, the will of today. When the will is infinite in its grasp, the only possible result is tragedy. Will must be tempered with respect. This will could be a present, an act of care and generosity.
14) In this age of `rights', there should surely be Time Rights, fighting any attempts at the metaphysical enslavery of people's time, arguing for a humane clock, for an integrity of time and respect for the dignity of the individual's hours.
15) Trees do not just last passively over time, they create time by creating breathable air. They are oxygenating lungs of the Earth, vital to the ecosystem and home to millions of species. Time is different in a treescape.
16) India has its `vessel above time', always full to overflowing, a notion of eternity transcending any temporality.
17) The mythic moment is where the profane present meets a sacred eternity.
Delve deeply into the following chunks of messages which embrace Dharma, Poetry and Philosophy.
This fantastic book is a broadside against all the misuses of time. It is a manifesto for time to be seen extraordinary, strange, and sensual. Scientists today use femtoseconds, a millionth of a billionth of second. Time has been increasingly divided and subdivided. Everything is timed. Quality time is quantitative, counted and accounted. The fullness of time is over emptied of its grace and generosity. In femtoseconds and cesium atoms, modernity's time is divided but not distinguished.
Chronos and Kairos were different Gods for time's different aspects. Chronos was the God of absolute time, linear, chronological and quantifiable. Kairos was the god of timing, of opportunity, of choice and mischance, the auspicious and the not-so-auspicious. If you sleep because the clock tells you it is way past your bed time, it is chronological time. If you sleep because you are tired, that is kairological time. Kairological time is the spirit of the particular moment. It is a concept, time enlivened and various, time elastic and fertile.
If man has seven ages, women in contemporary Western society has only one. One young one. One fixed one. Time must be stayed, for women, like plastic - with plastic. HRT, cosmetic industry, and the cosmetic surgery all help towards this goal.
Female faces are plasticized into facile facsimile face-lifts. The face's whole meaning is a page to write your character on; the whole purpose of having a face is to show emotion in motion - the mobility at the heart of expressiveness. Obstetricians speed up labor with vacuum extraction or caesarian section. In its wise etymology, what does obstetrics mean? `To be present', to `stand at'. Not to speed up labor but to be present at it. Not to force a woman but to stand by her.
Progress is only an idea, a mental construct, but it is treated as if it had the status of concrete fact, as if the march of progress had a sort of absolute inevitability and preordained certainty. Progressing into the future appeals because it claims an optimistic mobility while the whole idea of sustainability can be characterized as stasis.
Progress is a specific idea; western, money-oriented, and technologically biased. But it pretends to a universality, so that all peoples must be made to define and embrace progress in exactly the same way. Progress is two-faced; it has a lovely smile for the powerful and a cruel sneer for the poor and underprivileged.
Jay's holistic view of time resolves the modern dilemma - a meaningless existence and the Subtle Trap of Counterfeit Meaning. The Search For Meaning is vital precisely because without it, you fall prey to the lure of "counterfeit" meanings. If you make no effort to discover the meaning of your individual life, you thereby play host to an existential vacuum at the very core of your being. Thank the author Jay Griffiths and read her magnum opus with wonder and reverence. You will find the real meaning of your life. You can hear the language speaks instead of the author.
Most recent customer reviews
It has some very relevant quotes.