from the Oddity Mall

from the Oddity Mall

I read this book last year, Thinking in Numbers, by Dainel Tammet, and discovered that I had something in common with American philosopher William James, who noted that “the same space of time seems shorter as we grow older.” He cites a mathematical explanation by contemporary French mathematician Paul Janet, who noted:

our experience of time is proportional to our age. For a ten-year-old child, one year represents one-tenth of his existence, whereas for a man of fifty, the same year equates only to one-fiftieth (2 percent). The older man’s year will thus seem to elapse five times faster than the child’s…

I came to that same conclusion at least thirty years ago; it’s all math.

Someone on Facebook noted that the TV series The Twilight Zone – Season 1, Episode 1 – “Where Is Everybody?” was presented 55 years ago this month, October 2, 1959. Another commented, “I can hardly believe it.” This response seemed strange. Things that happened 50 years ago (Beatles, ML King, Vietnam) feel like a long time ago to me.

Whereas, when the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the TV show Friends made Jaquandor feel old, that seems more understandable to me. (Not that he’s old, but that he feels so.) Because looking back 20 years doesn’t feel like twenty years when you’re over 40; it’s all math.

Friends isn’t that chronological linchpin for me, as I watched it only about half the time. But the band Nirvana is; the band, with Dave Grohl as its final drummer, just before stardom, got together 24 years ago. Now THAT makes ME feel old.

Looking back can be kind of uncomfortably yucky. Ken Levine listened to tapes of radio programs he DJed in the 1970s, and cringes a bit. The Coverville is celebrating its 10th anniversary this fall, but host Brian Ibbott said on that program, “Don’t listen to the first year,” when he was figuring out the format. I know that feeling.

For some obscure reason, I’ve read old journals/diaries of mine from the 1970s and 1980s, and much of it is cringeworthy. The only reasons I keep them are these: 1) I could use some of it to cull out family and FantaCo history; 2) all the terrible stuff I could throw together as a roman a clef.

3 Responses to “Time passages”

  • Probably true, but I think that’s only part of it. There’s anticipation of the unknown. For a ten year old the world, and the future, is a yawning chasm. But for a sixty year old, who has six decades of information packed away, things are a lot less mysterious and often too predictable. Or rather, sixty year olds think they know it all and think they see all there is to see. Time speeds by when there’s no reason anymore to stop and stare in wonder and horror.

  • CGHill says:

    I’ve been 60 for almost a whole year, and never once has it occurred to me that I know it all: if anything, I am increasingly embarrassed by the things I don’t know but probably should have known by now.

  • Lisa says:

    Explaining to Peanut that time does not stand still while she is “doing something” other than what she should be doing is quite a daunting task! A six-year-old’s concept of time is….non-existant!

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