by Mark Dorset
The Man Without Qualities
(translated by Eithne Wilkins and Ernst Kaiser)
There is, after all, something peculiar about the process of habituating oneself in a new place, the often laborious fitting in and getting used, which one undertakes for its own sake, and of set purpose to break it off as soon as it is complete, or not long thereafter, and to return to one’s former state. It is an interval, an interlude, inserted, with the object of recreation, into the tenor of life’s main concerns; its purpose the relief of the organism, which is perpetually busy at its task of self-renewal, and which was in danger, almost in process, of being vitiated, slowed down, relaxed, by the bald unjointed monotony of its daily course. But what then is the cause of this relaxation, this slowing-down that takes place when one does the same thing for too long at a time? It is not so much physical or mental fatigue or exhaustion, for if that were the case, then complete rest would be the best restorative. It is rather something psychical; it means that the perception of time tends, through periods of unbroken uniformity, to fall away; the perception of time, so closely bound up with the consciousness of life that the one may not be weakened without the other suffering a sensible impairment. Many false conceptions are held concerning the nature of tedium. In general it is thought that the interestingness and novelty of the time-content are what “make the time pass”; that is to say, shorten it; whereas monotony and emptiness check and restrain its flow. This is only true with reservations. Vacuity, monotony, have, indeed, the property of lingering out the moment and the hour and of making them tiresome. But they are capable of contracting and dissipating the larger, the very large time-units, to the point of reducing them to nothing at all. And conversely, a full and interesting content can put wings to the hours and the day; yet it will lend to the general passage of time a weightiness, a breadth and solidity which cause the eventful years to flow far more slowly than those poor, bare, empty ones over which the wind passes and they are gone. Thus what we call tedium is rather an abnormal shortening of the time consequent upon monotony. Great spaces of time passed in unbroken uniformity tend to shrink together in a way to make the heart stop beating for fear; when one day is like all the others, then they are all like one; complete uniformity would make the longest life seem short, and as though it had stolen away from us unawares. Habituation is a falling asleep or fatiguing of the sense of time; which explains why young years pass slowly, while later life flings itself faster and faster upon its course. We are aware that the intercalation of periods of change and novelty is the only means by which we can refresh our sense of time, strengthen, retard, and rejuvenate it, and therewith renew our perception of life itself. Such is the purpose of our changes of air and scene, of all our sojourns at cures and bathing resorts; it is the secret of the healing power of change and incident.
The Magic Mountain
(translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter)
Robert Benchley, "What Time Is It? And What of It?"
H&L 178 When he had time to kill, he often killed it, as he always had, by tinkering.
H&L 252 He was suddenly struck by the fact that a great deal of time had passed during which ordinary things like buying a new suit hadn't even crossed his mind, and by the idea that his suit and the new awareness he had of his suit, marked two points -- the moment when he'd chosen the suit and the moment just passed when he'd been reminded of that moment -- between which lay a huge bubble of time
LF 448 Most children do not have a good sense of the amount of work required to build a radio from scratch or of the amount of time required to do it or -- for that matter -- of the passage of time itself.
When did I first notice that time “passed”? The sense of time was not at first associated with the idea of death. Of course, when I was four or five years old I realized that I should grow older and older and that I should die. At about seven or eight, I said to myself that my mother would die some day and the thought terrified me. However, I thought of it as a decisive interruption of the present, for everything was in the present. A day, an hour, seemed to me long, limitless; I could see no end to it. When they talked to me about next year I had the feeling that next year would never come.LF 453 my sense of the passing of time had developed to a point where, although it may not have been as acute as my sense of sight, it was at least as sharp as my sense of smell
LF 486 The picture grows more distorted as time passes, at least in the sense that it departs more and more from the original outline.
WDYS 117 That stretch of time seemed elastic. I envisioned it as a rubber road, twisting and flexing sickeningly, extending into vague, dark space.
(Topical Guide to CPL(sf), pp. 116 and 117)
“Of Time and Toast” (from Little Follies)
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|Copyright © 1996, 2001 by Eric Kraft
A Topical Guide to the Complete Peter Leroy (so far) is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this guide may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
Portions of A Topical Guide to the Complete Peter Leroy (so far) were first published by Voyager, Inc., as part of The Complete Peter Leroy (so far).
The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.
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