i remember reading once that the hindu concept of time is multi-layered: imagine strands of different times hanging across the sky in front of you & that your life is a line that dissects those strands at different points, up & down, in a non-linear, but consistent way in that your life touches on different points of the past, the present & the future.
are you still with me? let’s use for example, the metropolis case by matthew gallaway that i am currently reading. in this book the four main characters each live in a different time (& place,) but i’m sensing that they may be all parts of a greater character (the protagonist, if you will) & although i’m not far along enough in the narrative to know this for sure, the spark it’s lit in my imagination (& my memory) has me remembering a time when i felt such strong connections to other periods of time (the past always, rarely the future sadly) that i was thoroughly convinced i had lived then.
it’s possible that i still feel these connections & on a day like today, with a cold rain drumming on the roof (that gargle & gurgle you hear as the water falls through the downspout) they seem even closer than they have in quite some time. of course, i realize that where i touch these times are little knots tied with a flourish & flow from my reading (those required & those i found on my own,) but, & i know you’ve felt this too, when you make that connection & inside your mind you think, “i’ve lived this,” then that time, that very point in time, becomes an irrevocable part of you.
& that is what i’m feeling reading the metropolis case. isn’t that what great writing should do, make the sense of character & time & place so real for the reader that they have no choice but to have lived then as well? of course, as i’ve grown older, & the stack of books by my bedside & my chair & in a bookcase or put away in a closet has grown, ebbed & flowed (& over-flowed), my sense of belonging to specific periods of time, as if i had lived then, has grown stronger (not weaker) & when i discover a new writer who transports me to those times i arrive with my bags properly packed & my cultural touchstones at my fingertips.
this then, this connection, knot, knowledge, shared as it is by the author with his audience (we, the readers — now there’s a constitution!) can be such an intimate one because, as if you were two strangers on a street corner in a busy metropolis, you brush past each other or you meet for just a moment’s time through friends, acquaintances, other strangers, however it is, your time lines (those strings hanging down through which our lives traverse) are knotted together at that one point & although you may never meet IRL (ah, the language of digital age), for just that moment you share a life. that for me is a great pleasure.