Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Steinbeck's Time

I'm back stateside, and on an American lit. kick to mark my (inconspicuous) return. First up is Steinbeck's East of Eden, a book I wanted to read well before Oprah told me to — Steinbeck is one of my all-time favorites.

I've been hunting around for a universal theory of time perception for the last few years; that is, ever since time slowed to a standstill when I moved to London. And I think I found it in — of all the unlikely places — East of Eden. Near the beginning of chapter 7:

"Time interval is a strange and contradictory matter in the mind. It would be reasonable to suppose that a routine time or an eventless time would seem interminable. It should be so, but it is not. It is the dull eventless times that have no duration whatsoever. A time splashed with interest, wounded with tragedy, crevassed with joy—that's the time that seems long in the memory. And this is right when you think about it.— Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all."