For the Time Being
Why do we exist? Where did we come from? How can one person matter? Dillard searches for answers in a powerful array of images. For the Time Being evokes the terrifying grandeur of all that remains troublingly beyond our understanding.
"The sight of a cleaned clay soldier upright in a museum case is unremarkable, and this is all that future generations will see. No one will display those men crushed beyond repair; no one will display their lose parts; no one will display them crawling from the walls. Future generations will miss the crucial sight of ourselves as rammed earth."
"Standing again, rubbing my fingers together, I found more stone stairways, more levels, and the s...more
That said, there are good bits, lovely bits. Much of the natural description, and the spiritual meditations, and most of the historical quota...more
Is it not late? A late time to be living? Are not our generations the crucial ones? For we have changed the world. Are not our heightened times the important ones? For we have nuclear bombs. Are we not especially significant because our century is? - our century and its unique Holoca...more
Given that I was in mid-swoon at the time from my first exposure to her work, I couldn't really muster a defense other than of the to-each-his-own sort. Since that time, though, as a non-con...more
The first Chinese emperor, Emperor Qin,...more
I remember some lovely imagery. The story of the Chinese army particularly sticks out in my mind after all these years, but that's about all I remember except that I was generally quite bored by it otherwise.
It's basically about life-and-death, from the perspective of individuals. That is, do individuals matter? What is the meaning of individual life, if it ends?
Dillard proceeds through a series of stories on a few recurring themes: birth, and birth...more
This is a book made up of fragments of history and philosophy, random facts about sand and clouds, and fractured narratives. But it is more than that, too, as Annie Dillard takes these broken elements and tries to weave them together. (You could think of it as a literary version of the Tibetan sand mandala).
She takes on a bevy of big topics: life and death, permanence and eternity, individuality in the midst of billions, and whether God is responsible for calamity. There are no easy answers to t
Dillard: There were no formerly heroic times, and there was no formerly pure generation. There is no one here but us chickens, and so it has always been: a people busy and powerful, knowledgeable, ambivalent, important, fearful, and self-...more
This is the classic...more
“Then before me in the near distance I...more
Who else could teach me about sand, Peking man, Jewish thought, babies and clouds? Not only did I learn about these disparate subjects, but Dillard links them so that they don't...more
For The Time Being is, as most great books are, complexly layered. The layering in Dillard's book is more intentional, however, as her work hinges on the composition of the various strata of the ea...more
Less interesting, for me at least, was all the stuff about theologians' debates about the nature, powers and attitudes of God. And the way she hopped from one story or thread to another in the space of a few li...more
In other words, I'm not sure why I'm giving it two stars instead of just the one. Maybe because I'm a fan of philosophical musings and pretty sentences, and both are in abundance here. And yet...
From the beginning the book put me in an unpleasant place. It star...more