64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Time well spent
, December 31, 2002
This review is from: A Geography Of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist (Paperback)
"A Geography of Time" is an almost-excellent study of perception of time, and how this perception is affected by culture and location. A new vocabulary is introduced to the reader, along with a host of new ideas about time, including "event time," "natural time," and the familiar "clock time." The author's research is enlightening and challenging.
The concepts are easy to absorb, and the subject is well-researched and documented. I have no doubt that Levine's work is strong. Some of the work involves providing evidence for well-known concepts, such as bigger cities have a faster pace than smaller cities. Interesting correlations are drawn between the pace of a location and the accuracy of it's timepieces. I found the concept of being able to train oneself to elongate and condense time perception to be particularly interesting, such as in the case of a martial artist who moves fast by forcing an opponent to appear to move slow. Other interesting tidbits include the "contradiction of Japan," which shows that an ultra-fast paced life can be balanced out with cultural rules to prevent aggression, and how a slow-paced city is not necessarily kinder than a fast-paced city.
The reason why "A Geography of Time" is only almost-excellent is due to the author's skills as a writer. Ideas are not presented in a structured manner, information is redundantly repeated and personal opinions are freely mixed with research and evidence. Some difficult concepts, such as Einstein's time dilatation in Special Relativity are introduced as window dressing for what amounts to a sociological subject. A brief history of the introduction of clocks in America is included. The last chapter is almost a "self help" opinion piece by the author, on how to use knowledge of time to greatest advantage.
All in all, while the research is interesting and the concepts are worth reading, the book would have benefited from a tighter focus on the author's part. The book wander's lazily from concept to concept, and hurts the material overall. All in all, worth reading and enjoyable, but falling just short of the mark.
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