being and time


You can tell a lot about a person by the relationship she has with time — what she values, how she works, and often where she came from. I have often wondered if my own anxiety about the wide expanse of the day goes back to my rural Kansas upbringing. Barred from watching television and encouraged (pushed) to explore the outdoors, the way I view the hours of the day correlates with the view of the horizon: flat, never ending, bichromal. I wake in the morning to wonder how in the world I will ever find a way to break that expanse into manageable chunks without falling into boredom or uselessness. Whether it’s the American motto “time is money,” or the Eastern European saying “When man is in a hurry, the devil makes merry,” the primary way in which a culture deals with the passing days marks the people who live in it. Ethnographers and anthropologists have long understood this, and used the way societies react to time — from how they divide their day to how they react to the aging process to the language they use to describe the past, present, and future — to tell the stories of what makes this culture unique.

more from Jessa Crispin at The Smart Set here.