115: Time by Eva Hoffman

by Gerard


115: Hoffman, Eva. Time. New York: Picador, 2009. 189 pp. ISBN 978-0-312-42727-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 110: Metaphysics
  • 115: Time

Time is all at once the most universal, the most intangible, and the most misunderstood concept. We make time, take time, keep time, lose time, waste time, borrow time, but never really understand it. Eva Hoffman’s Time takes a look at time from four different vantage points: physiologically, psychologically, culturally, and contemporaneously. And in each perspective, we see time in a whole new light.

Hoffman manages to steer clear of the marriage of space and time and instead tries to get a more clear, personal look at time. All animals, human included have an understanding of biological time. Cicadas, swallows, and even bacteria have internal clocks, guiding their lives into certain patterns. Sunrise and sunset govern a lot of biological processes. From the broadly scientific, Hoffman then progresses to the individual’s perception of time and then the culture’s use of time. Some cultures don’t view time as a single linear thread from one event to the next, but rather as several overlapping cycles that help to describe the moment or the season. Lastly, she investigates how modern history has changed how we interact with time.

All throughout this book, there were moments when I had to go over her arguments, but overall, it was quite an intriguing read. We hardly think about time as a construct in both our lives and our society. Hoffman’s writing flows well, which is good for a book on such a heady topic. Those who enjoy a healthy amount of reflection will be right at home here. A delightful read.