Blog Rating

Selected Books by Edmund Blair Bolles

  • Galileo's Commandment: 2500 Years of Great Science Writing
  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

« New FOXP2 Variant | Main | A Writer Asks for Help (Part Two) »



The calendar and clock metaphor has worked best on me in the past. It is a bit shop-worn but that is probably because it works. Good luck with finding a new one that works as well. I hope you do.
I usually, but not always, find the long geological time inspiring rather than depressing.
I hope you have considered the possibility of singing for the communication of emotion as opposed to content. I can imagine a sort of humming accompanying gestures as a very early pre-language. I have no argument or facts to back it up. It is just an image that 'sits well' in me.

Giorgio Marchetti

Hi Edmund

in my view, this is just a way of presenting facts, different from other ways: it has pros and cons. All depends on your final aim/objective, what you want to finally convey and have the reader be conscious/aware of. Therefore use it instrumentally.

Of course side effects occur, always. Sometimes they add unexpected viewpoints to the readers, and even to the writer him/herself who suddenly may realize he/she can say more, or in a different way.

The important is the final, global picture that you want your book to express

Miriam Gordon

What beautiful thoughts - as I read this post I felt suspended in a dream. The image of deep time with the red line showing a human life span will evoke all 3 and more reactions from various readers. It is an incredibly powerful and highly worthwhile image to share. Leave the reader's reactions to the readers and go with your gut.
Another thought I had as I read this post is the evolution of metaphor in language. It's almost a necessity considering the vastness of our history. You could actually weave a whole tapestry through your book of metaphor to language skill development in today's human babies. It brings to mind telescopes and microscopes, and what they can reveal to us.
So have I made your job any easier :-)?
BLOGGER: My job will be easier if I heed the words, "Leave the reader's reactions to the readers and go with your gut." When trusting one's genius, however, it helps to be a genius.


WIth deep time and space, it is all of the above. Mostly I find it comforting, if not inspiring... for example, when re-realizing how numerous yet distant the stars are, I am thrilled by that knowledge as well as how the stars will be there after me, and that they have been there before me.

Perhaps if you offer readers an anchor of some sort within the narrative, either metaphor or concrete, it may aid them not to flounder in the depths of time.


Creation stories are obvious examples of literature that expresses grandeur about time. But what makes them non-threatening and how to extract it for other purposes...*shrug*

Genesis 1:2: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."

John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (there are parallels here with Hermes Trismegistus)

Völuspa, which opens the Old Norse Poetic Edda: "Years ago, when Ymir lived,
There was no sand, no sea, no cold waves;
Earth was not, nor heaven above,
But only a yawning gap, and nowhere grass."

and for some reason I keep thinking of this excerpt from A River Runs Through It:

"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters."

The red line is not the life span, the life span is the river running though it, that can see the past (in the rocks'layers), but not the future.

onno de jong

Well, if you consider that we are on the threshold of a great extinction (not necessarily ours, for we are resourceful, like rats and cockroaches, and can survive) That the few generations that have used stored sunlight to fuel the industrial revolution experiment will have provided the next generation with a perspective that we do not yet have, that people can witness the collapse of millions of years in the span of a very short life, and that it is the excess of a few people that can be said to be responsible for holding this trajectory that has brought the world to this precipice . . . what a gift to our children, to provide then with such a spectacle, to crush so much for so little. You can imagine what the world was like millions of years ago, how about several hundred years from now?


When you look out over a vista, the ground closest to you has the most detail and as you look further off the view becomes less detailed and more "sweeping". The same with one's own past. Memories of more recent things are more detailed (and more usefully so). Going backward from the present might emphasize this but it seems natural enough anyway.

This affects the content of our scientific observations as well: the more recent the event, the more we know about it. Also, of course, we are more interested in more recent events. And dare I suggest that the rate of complexification is, in fact, accelerating: the more recent the time, the more has been happening?

Anyway, it would be an interesting problem except that most everyone is already use to it without thinking much about it(!). I suppose that's why when people stare at the vastness of the stars, they sigh and go back inside for some refreshment :).


“Geologic time versus our brief span”. In spite of our brief span, we can think of geological time. What about Pascal´s “Le roseau pensant”? This might be applied to your issue.

Kocaeli Haber

ıs thıs photo of wadi mujib ?
BLOGGER Not unless that is Turkish for the Grad Canyon in Arizona.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Bookmark and Share

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

Visitor Data

Blog powered by Typepad