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September 07 , 2008

A Walk in the Garden of Time


We don't think about time much, do we? Time surrounds us. We can't think about it any more than a fish can imagine the water in which he swims. Einstein said time is an illusion. Henri Bergson sees it as "duration, a natural flow. A Buddhist would see it as a circle, a priest as eternity's antechamber, a historian a history of human development and decay. On the other hand, a lawyer might see his hours as billable units, and a psychiatrist might see them as fifty minutes long. It's all these things, and more. In this book, I distinguish between chronological, personal, and circular approaches. to time. There is a large gap between our relentlessly chronological views of it and a relaxed non-European perception of time. Much of it leads to misunderstand and miscommunication. Part of it is the imprecision of our own speech, part of it is, simply, due to the separate evolution of world cultures. Exact speech and a strong cultural sense of time's different faces can do much for world understanding.

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