A Sideways Look at Time
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A Sideways Look at Time

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  290 ratings  ·  37 reviews
A brilliant and poetic exploration of the way that we experience time in our everyday lives.

Why does time seem so short? How does women's time differ from men's? Why does time seem to move slowly in the countryside and quickly in cities? How do different cultures around the world see time? In A Sideways Look at Time, Jay Griffiths takes readers on an extraordinary tour o...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published March 8th 2004 by Tarcher (first published November 1st 1999)
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Can you hear that? It's the sound of an axe grinding for almost 400 pages.
Bet you didn't know that all the evils in the world can be attributed to time! Bet you didn't know that we're all going to hell in a hand-basket because of watches and clocks and so forth. Yep. It's all Time's fault.
Villains like corporations and science and men and christianity and industrialization and Benjamin Franklin and governments and such, yes, they're all bad, according to Ms. Griffiths - but what do they all have...more
Oct 17, 2007 christina is currently reading it
I heard the author of this book on Radiolab, and she talked about various alternative ways of telling time, which people have invented over the years.

The smell clock, which switches from spice to spice by hour, so you wouldn't need light to tell time, and most impressivley the flower clock. Which is a circle in your garden planted with flowers in sections, that open for an hour, then close.
So you can tell the hour by what is blooming at the moment!

Egad, this killed me, because there are so many interesting things in this book, lots of little factoids and perspectives I was tremendously curious about. And I would have enjoyed it a lot more, if she could have quit finding different ways to say how the "witchy, twitchy blood flow of the she-goddess moon" was repressed by The Men. Bloody fucking hell. Around page 130 I just gave up and started writing notes in the margins for the next lucky reader. You'...more
Matthew Rasnake
Jun 13, 2009 Matthew Rasnake rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: absolutely no one.
It's not often that I will actually STOP reading a book, on purpose, once I've started. Sure, sometimes I'll put it down for a while and come back to it later, but like leaving in the middle of a movie, putting down a book--for good--without finishing it is something I just don't do.

Well, now I have.

The premise of this book intrigued me, with its vague intimations of a philosophic and Zen inspired discourse on time--how we perceive it, and how we might get back to a better relationship with it....more
This book has an fascinating premise, which I suppose is in the form of a question: is time an external, mechanical thing? And if so, must we submit to it even though our perceptions of time vary with the way we are experiencing the events that are happening to us "in" time? Jay Griffiths in no uncertain terms casts her lot with the small towns who favored "local time" over "railroad time" (in the late 19th century, as the railroads expanded west, American towns that had established local "time...more
Mary Cawthon
This book gives me very mixed emotions.

I was excited to start reading it. The subject matter is very interesting and it sounded great when I heard about it on Radiolab. Griffiths' writing style is very clever while still accessible (although at times unnecessarily highbrow). She makes an interesting argument, rich with really great annotations and perspectives.

My complaints about this book start with the digressions she makes into subject matter that doesn't seem pertinent to the book. She bri...more

This is an absolute must-read book. You may have noticed that I've only given it three stars; that's for a whole bunch of reasons, the most striking of which is an editing failure. This book is wonderful for its content, and leaves a lot desired in terms of its technical execution: a good editor would have resolved most of them.

While this book examines time, it is itself a beautiful depiction of the limitations of time. Written before the turn of the century, the content is time-bound, even tho...more
Finished! Finally! I enjoyed Wild: An Elemental Journey, her second book, but a little Jay Griffiths goes a long way; her prose is wild itself, stuffed with puns and playful redefinitions of words. It's hard work keeping up with her. She has an anarchic spirit and writes anarchic books.

This book is theoretically about time and the way it has been captured and distorted in the capitalist west, but she manages to cram in all sorts of subjects, addressing every aspect of life and death. Her messag...more
Charles Martin
There's an excellent, five-star book buried in this lengthy tome. Editing out the over-simplified generalizations would shorten this volume to about the right size. It is thought provoking, however, and rewards the patient reader. Jay Griffiths annihilates the western perspective of time moving in a straight line from start to finish and offers alternatives views from other cultures. Mythological time and the universe, according to modern physics, moves in cycles, spirals and waves, while we try...more
I really enjoyed this book, and i recommend it for anyone interested in "the domestication of time". In general, the theory itself is not new, but I enjoyed the author's take on it - with her historical/cultural anecdotes. However, the overall "literariness" of it all was a bit pretentious at times (pip.pip.pip...jeez.), and some of her ultra-feminist views were unnecessary to the content. In other sections, it reads like a thesis, which can be a bit bland.

All in all, definitely worth the read,...more
Griffiths articulates what it's like to live in modern techno-time better than anyone else I've read on the subject, and gives a sense of what we're missing -- no mean feat to write so eloquently from both inside and outside one's own culture. She is by turns brilliant, say, when describing forest time, and exasperating, devolving at times into diatribe and rant. She is lucid bordering on genius in picking out the historic strands of the cultural shift toward linear clock-time. It would be very...more
Zoe Thompson
Certaily an interesting way of looking at time in relation to our modern lives but I often asked myself when reading this book 'this isn't actually practical or applicable in it? This is like when I was in high school and probably put more thought and analysis into a written sentence than the author did at the time it was written isn't it?' I often felt that her interpretations had no real basis and that they were the product of abstract connections formed by the mind nevertheless the intrinsic...more
I thought this book might give me insights into that elusive concept called time, but it is about how human beings exploited the increasingly precise measurability of time to oppress other less savvy or less lucky human beings. A waste of a good book title: Time does require a sideways look (but what is sideways here?) to get even a shaky purchase on what it is.

Still, a readable book by an obviously outraged polemicist.
Ouch! If you lived life by the clock and watch, this book gives a big finger to a penciled life and the guys who live off their blackberry's. Pretty amazing book! Indulges much though bites out of its scope. It gives valuable life affirming lessons though to meditation and to giving life its own time circle. Could do with a trim and would have been a book worth the keep and a yearly re-read!!
Corey Sanders
I heard about this book on NPR's Radio Lab podcast and I was completely convinced I needed to read it. Unfortunately, while the book does contain the fascinating historical information that was presented on RadioLab, it is mostly a feminist, post-modern rant on modern societies obsession with time. I just couldn't take the constant preaching, so I quit after one chapter.
Rare event: I hated this book, and could only make it through a couple of chapters. Opinions vary, and several blurbs indicated that the author is witty, but his writing had a strong "fingernails on the blackboard" effect on this reader.
Apart from style, the book seems vaguely structured, tendentious and repetitive. The two-star rating understates my reaction.
Susan Clark-cook
A wonderfully interesting and thought provoking book, after I read it I went around telling everyone they needed to read this book. It has so many ideas and thoughts that I, for one, hadn't considered before. Read it, and I guarantee you will enjoy the things it says and brings to mind.
Quirky with some original ideas, but she DOES go on. Clever, enjoys playing with words, but rather than charming, I found it tiresome. Intriguing insight into the history of clockwork and its impact on power, control and industrialization. Considering planting an herbal or floral clock.
I'm almost halfway through this book, but having an increasingly hard time as the author is quite anti-Christian. Because of that, it's hard to remain engaged when my armor is up to block the barage of attacks! For now I'll continue on...
Very interesting winding book about how we use and are used by time, and how other cultures might have done it better. Jay comes from an eco feminist angle, and the book is very personal and funny and downright fascinating.
An insightful look at the way various societies measure and interpret the passage of time. Not for everyone, though, and the feminist arguments peppered throughout the book do not add much to it.
A discussion of time from many viewpoints, including gender realted. A lot of history is discussed here, especially concerning Christian ideas about time. A very thought-provoking book.
Do you ever stop and really smell the roses? This is a cool way to slow down and just think about time...or as I like to think of it, think about thinking. Was a fun read!
WOW. Time IS on my side or rather on ALL sides, if there were sides. I especially like the amazingly diverse anthropological versions of time.
a few interesting historical tid bits but lots of genralizations to stretch a few observations into a pretentious treatise "pip, pip" - what the???
Mike Gonzalez
Remember me Jay? Mike. We were trekking partners on Annapurna. Read it when it came out.
"Welcome to Hotel Piss-full". Will never forget.
Daniel Noventa
Simply loved it. She's a wonderful writer. I actually fell in love with her while reading this. It is on our high focus on time.
Jul 21, 2010 LINDA rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: books
Full of fact after fact and idea after idea about time and different ways that it is viewed and how it can affect us.
Loved this.
Brilliant exploration of time and how much our worldview is affected by our concepts of it.
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Jay Griffiths was born in Manchester and studied English Literature at Oxford University. She spent a couple of years living in a shed on the outskirts of Epping Forest and has travelled the world, but for many years she has been based in Wales.
More about Jay Griffiths...
Wild: An Elemental Journey A Love Letter from a Stray Moon Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape Anarchipelago The Spiral Staircase

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