Children grow rapidly, forget the centuries-long embrace from their parents, which to them lasted but seconds. Children become adults, live far from their parents, live their own houses, learn ways of their own, suffer pain, grow old. Children curse their parents for their wrinkled skin and hoarse voices. Those now old children also want to stop time, but at another time. They want to freeze their own children at the center of time.
A world in which time is absolute is a world of consolation. For while the movements of people are unpredictable, the movement of time is predictable. While people can be doubted, time cannot be doubted. While people brood, time skips ahead without looking back.
Thoughts are no more than electrical surges in the brain. Sexual arousal is no more than a flow of chemicals to certain nerve endings. Sadness is no more than a bit of acid transfixed in the cerebellum. In short, the body is a machine, subject to the same laws of electricity and mechanics as an electron or clock.
The book is finished by the reader. A good novel should invite the reader in and let the reader participate in the creative experience and bring their own life experiences to it, interpret with their own individual life experiences. Every reader gets something different from a book and every reader, in a sense, completes it in a different way.
Science is an intellectual journey, and to me, it's not the destination, it's the journeyto get there. It's a way of thinking and it's an intellectual curiosity, a desire to know how the world works, and to know what the fundamental principles of the world are, and to know our place in it. I think once we stop asking questions like "what is the age of the universe," or "how are the instructions of DNA carried out on a microscopic level," once we stop asking questions like that, we're dead.
The Diagnosis is by far my most ambitious book. I such great hopes for it... there was so much I wanted to do with the book. I was extremely insecure about it for several years. Just didn't know whether I would finish the book much less for it to come close to what I intended. I think that for any novel you never know exactly how the book is going to turn out...
Despite our strongly felt kinship and oneness with nature, all the evidence suggests that nature doesn't care one whit about us. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions happen without the slightest consideration for human inhabitants.
Don't you feel something magical when you're in love?... I do, I certainly do ... but I think that feeling of magic is a hardwired psychological response. It's a chemical thing in the brain. It's a flow of chemicals and electrical currents, and it developed over millions of years in the process of evolution to aid in the procreation of the species.
Another strand of my writing is the importance of the idea. If you think about fiction writing as a spectrum, where at one end of the spectrum in the infrared, are the story tellers, and the people for whom creation of wonderful characters and telling a good story is the most important thing.
In our constant search for meaning in this baffling and temporary existence, trapped as we are within our three pounds of neurons, it is sometimes hard to tell what is real. We often invent what isn't there. Or ignore what is. We try to impose order, both in our minds and in our conceptions of external reality. We try to connect. We try to find truth. We dream and we hope. And underneath all of these strivings, we are haunted by the suspicion that what we see and understand of the world is only a tiny piece of the whole.
And at the place where time stands still, one sees lovers kissing in the shadows of buildings, in a frozen embrace that will never let go. The loved one will never take his arms from where they are now, will never give back the bracelet of memories, will never journey afar from his lover, will never place himself in danger of self-sacrifice, will never fail to show his love, will never become jealous, will never fall in love with someone else, will never lose the passion of this instant of time.
That has been the great achievement of our age: to so thoroughly flood the planet with megabits that every image and fact has become a digitized disembodied nothingness. With magnificent determination, our species has advanced from Stone Age to Industrial Revolution to Digital Emptiness. We've become weightless, in the bad sense of the word.
Although technology is proceeding at a dizzying pace, I believe that the human mind will always have control of itself. And since the human mind has a degree of infinity and imagination unlikely to be matched by a machine for a very, very long time, I don't think that we will become the machines of the machines.
I spend a lot of time just listening to the ospreys. I watch them go through their life cycle. They spend the winter in South America. The mother and father osprey stay together. It's a monogamous relationship. And every summer they raise a new brood of children. They came back to the nest in the middle of April. They take separate vacations in the winter - the mother and father...
I consider myself a spiritual atheist. I certainly believe there are forces bigger than ourselves, and that we should be searching, individually, for meaning in our lives. But I don't believe there's a supreme being, an intelligence that created everything.
I'm humbled and enormously grateful to be connected to [Franz] Kafka in a any way. He is one of the writers I admire. I think he has been a big influence on me. I appreciate the idea of the individual person battling the society - which is true in all his books.
The Book of Telling tells of a woman's journey to uncover the secret life of her father and to find herself in the process, an unusual counterpoint between personal history and the history of a young nation. Haunting, powerful, and beautifully written.
It's exciting having a student who is not used to expressing their emotional side and bringing that out in them and see that developing and helping to nurture that. That's an exciting thing. In a class of fifteen there are usually two very good writers, equal to good student writers anywhere in the country. Those two make the class wonderful.
One cannot walk down an avenue, converse with a friend, enter a building, browse beneath the sandstone arches of an old arcade without meeting an instrument of time. Time is visible in all places. Clock towers, wristwatches, church bells divide years into months, months into days, days into hours, hours into seconds, each increment of time marching after the other in perfect succession. And beyond any particular clock, a vast scaffold of time, stretching across the universe, lays down the law of time equally for all.
I go live in Maine for the summer. Without computer, and without the telephone service we are mercifully without the faxes and e-mails. So it's really about two and a half months that I'll feel like I can recover some silence in my life...which is so hard to find.
Unconditional love. That’s what he wants to give her and what he wants from her. People should give without wanting anything in return. All other giving is selfish. But he is being selfish a little, isn’t he, by wanting her to love him in return? He hopes that she loves him in return. Is it possible for a person to love without wanting love back? Is anything so pure? Or is love, by its nature, a reciprocity, like oceans and clouds, an evaporating of seawater and a replenishing of rain?
The tragedy of this world is that no one is happy, whether stuck in atime of pain or of joy. The tragedy of this world is that everyone is alone. For a life in the past cannot be shared with the present. Each person who gets stuck in time gets stuck alone.
Who would fare better in this world of fitful time? Those who have seen the future and live only one life? Or those who have not seen the future and wait to live life? Or those who deny the future and live two lives?
I have no opposition at all to technology. I think technology is a wonderful thing that has to be used thoughtfully, and we can't just assume that every bit of new technology improvesthe quality of life; it's really in how the technology is used. What I am very disturbed about is this trend of everything happening faster and faster and faster and there being more and more general noise in the world, and less and less time for quiet reflection on who we are, and where we're going.
I value my correspondence with writers...I was in New York and had lunch with Oliver Sachs and compared notes with him - he is someone I really like. I love staying in written correspondence with some writers. That's enough for me.
In this world, time has three dimensions, like space. Just as an object may move in three perpendicular directions, corresponding to horizontal, vertical, and longitudinal, so an object may participate in three perpendicular futures. Each future moves in a different direction of time. Each future is real. At every point of decision, the world splits into three worlds, each with the same people, but different fates for those people. In time, there are an infinity of worlds.
I think all tragedies are best told with some humor. You have to relieve the darkness to let the reader get through it. Also, that life has happiness and sadness mixed together. If you told a story that was all darkness, it wouldn't be real.
For me, spirituality includes the belief in things larger than ourselves, an appreciation of nature and beauty, a sensitivity to the world, a feeling of shared connection with other living things, a desire to help people less fortunate than ourselves. All of these things can occur with or without God. I do not believe in the existence of God, but I consider myself a spiritual person in the manner I have just described. I call myself a spiritual atheist. I would imagine that many people are spiritual atheists.
Some make light of decisions, arguing that all possible decisions will occur. In such a world, how could one be responsible for his actions? Others hold that each decision must be considered and committed to, that without commitment there is chaos. Such people are content to live in contradictory worlds, so long as they know the reason for each.
I am spellbound by the plays of Shakespeare. And I am spellbound by the second law of thermodynamics. The great ideas in science, like the Cro-Magnon paintings and the plays of Shakespeare, are part of our cultural heritage.
When the first mechanical clocks were invented, marking off time in crisp, regular intervals, it must have surprised people to discover that time flowed outside their own mental and physiological processes. Body time flows at its own variable rate, oblivious to the most precise hydrogen master clocks in the laboratory. In fact, the human body contains its own exquisite time-pieces, all with their separate rhythms. There are the alpha waves in the brain; another clock is the heart. And all the while tick the mysterious, ruthless clocks that regulate aging.
With infinite life comes an infinite list of relatives. Grandparents never die, nor do great grandparents, great-aunts…and so on, back through the generations, all alive and offering advice. Sons never escape from the shadows of their fathers. Nor do daughters of their mothers. No one ever comes into his own…Such is the cost of immortality. No person is whole. No person is free.
In a world without future, each parting of friends is a death. In a world without future, each loneliness is final. In a world without future, each laugh is the last laugh. In a world without future, beyond the present lies nothingness, and people cling to the present as if hanging from a cliff.