On Time

Time is fundamental to people. We use time to measure when we should sleep, how long for, and how our entire lives should function. We measure our days in terms of hours and minutes; appointments are scheduled in hours, or half hours. Nine am is the accepted beginning of the work day; this presumption emerges from the natural trend of sunlight and sunset, and broadly, sunlight is present, in the UK at least, from nine until five, for most of the year. There are some black winter days when it is dark by four pm, and not light until nine am, but that is a construct of the seasons.

I’m having a brilliant week, because of an abundance of time. I’m essentially finished for this year, and before exams and revision kick off, I am to enjoy a brief respite from university work. The weather is beautiful, and I have little to do except lie around, reading books, and going to the beach. Waking up in the morning with nothing to do is a fantastic feeling, if it is a rare one. It means you can spend an extra twenty minutes in the gym, and then go home, and conduct your day as you so wish.

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Certainly one of the creepiest portrayals of time I've ever seen. (1)

Without any spare time, household, administrative type things cease to happen; the dust on the carpet reaches levels of visibility, the washing basket overflows, and the purse starts to expel receipts. You get too tired to care about doing menial things, and in my opinion at least, this is depressing. I like to have a day, every so often, dedicated to doing boring administrative tasks. Dusting, and laundry, and so forth. I can’t abide not having enough time.

I also have an extremely irritating tendency to develop viral, throat based complaints whenever I’m incredibly tired. If I work a number of extremely busy days at work, with only five hours sleep between the end of one shift, and the beginning of another, I get some form of cold, flu, or sore throat. This has been alleviated somewhat by a tonsillectomy, however I still get twinges of sore throat, and stabbing pain in my ears. I wish I could be one of those people who can function on only four hours sleep every day, but I’m not sure I could- I get very grumpy, past a certain point of exhaustion. To the point where even I don’t recognize the snarling, irritable, pale creature staring out of the mirror.

Anyway, so back to my point; I like having time. We all base everything we do on time constraints, balancing our lives between commitments. In the modern world especially, we’re busier than we’ve ever been. I suppose it’s important to recognise however, that we should always, always, make time to do the washing. Because everyone needs clean pants.

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(1) http://www.ideachampions.com/weblogs/Dali%2BPersistence%2Bof%2BTime.jpg

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Internally Alarming

In light of my recent post, I thought I’d post this diagram about the human body clock. I love the idea of there being an innate schedule which we have to abide by. It’s quite interesting to consider the idea of how productive we could all be if we were all well scheduled individuals, and what we’d be able to do if we could optimize ourselves. I don’t think anyone can ever be completely tuned in all the time though; everyone has to have the leeway to relax; no one can be productive all the time.

I like to think however that one day, I’ll rule the world. (:

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With thanks to http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5f/Biological_clock

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Up the Mountain of Literature

There are many lists on the Internet and in the great works of people such as F.R Leavis that detail the best novels in the world; the ‘classics’. However, I tend to greet these lists with a degree of scepticism. I find myself debating with my friends and family the merit of Pride and Prejudice, and find myself vilifying it repeatedly. When discussing feminism in philosophy recently,  I somehow managed to spark a rather heated debate on Austen’s merit as a feminist writer and on her position as a ‘great’ author. In hindsight, this was not the wisest of topics to broach at that particular moment. Nonetheless, I defended my position and maintain it today in relation to that particular novel.

Let us for a minute consider Time’s list of the top ten novels; which can be found here.  The list is of American origin, and includes novels such as The Great Gatsby, alongside Hamlet, and even Marcel Proust’s masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time. It is not rare for Proust to appear on the top ten lists; despite being rather inaccessible, and being one of the longest texts ever conceived in the world. Time’s list is a rather complex one and is also rather multinational, ranging from America, to Russia, to France, to England. I do however wonder what criteria leads to the formation of this list; the top one hundred novels in Time Magazine also provides the beginning of a very lengthy literary debate, I think.

On listverse, also an American website, we see many similarities in their list of the top ten novels of all time; Lolita is also included. The nature of this novel is rather controversial, and as a result it often appears as one of the great novels. American lists on the whole tend to include more Russian novels, a form of literature that is perhaps neglected in English universities. Undoubtedly however they are stylistically fascinating, and are another particular interest of mine.

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In the English lists, there is an abundance of European texts, strewn among the classics of English literature. A seemingly omnipotent Middlemarch is included in most of these lists. An interesting and rather comprehensive collection is The Telegraph’s. Some lists, such as F.R Leavis’s have extremely strict criteria for selecting ‘the best’; at the beginning of the rise of critical theory was the simultaneous beginning of a systematic categorisation of the novel in general: what is the best, most profound, and most influential? These questions were all necessary to be considered when attempting to classify “great” ideas.

From a wholly liberal perspective, the best, and the most influential is a very subjective idea. Influential events are not the same for every person, and may be the most minute things; a person never wakes and realises that this day will be the most extraordinary of their existence; in the same way, the best novels could not be considered the greatest by everyone, a prime example being my aversion to Pride and Prejudice. My opinion on the novel is very rarely shared. This does infer however that an opinion on a novel is always different; in an academic environment a novel is put on a syllabus, and even though there is the scope to decide one’s own opinion, it is always slightly guided. An engaging lecturer can always lead the mind down a different path, and encourage a person to consider interpretation beyond their own psyche. This is one of the highlights of university, at least for me.

The great literature of the world can be explored by anyone who wishes to delve in, whether they are a banker, a builder, an electrician, an academic, or a child. The greatness of literature can be explored by everyone, and their own greats may diverge hugely from the culturally accepted, however this does not make them any less valid. I’m curious to know what we all consider to be our greats, for instance the writers who shaped our own ambitions to be writers, or who inspired us to be something.

Who’re your greats? Suggestions welcome!

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(1) http://timeentertainment.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/top-10-books-lev-grossman-v.jpg?w=240&h=360&crop=1