EINSTEIN AND THE FIFTH DIMENSION
I received a rejection from another agent this morning. She was replying to an e-mail I’d written several months before. So much time had passed, I no longer thought of my query, but today it was on her mind. What I’d forgotten, she was remembering, a kind of relativity, one might say.
I’m sorry she felt obliged to write. Her response was no more looked for than snow in a summer desert. The experience, however, led me to consider how personal the notion of time can be. A child’s time runs slower than an adult’s. A child asks with impatience, “How many days till my birthday?” An adult seldom does. But I did experience a similar time warp last week with a friend. She was recalling a movie we’d seen together and recounting it to the last detail. She’d been touched by it, so I listened and nodded in an effort to keep her memory company. I daren’t admit that the film meant nothing to me and was hardly remembered.
Our conversation got me to thinking that in this world, time comes in many forms. There is Greenwich Mean Time, time zones and personal time. Personal time seems the most vital to us. What’s important feels recent. What isn’t fades.
Books represent another sort of time. I might I forget the name of one of my characters but the book remembers so that if a reader opens it tomorrow, a year from now or ten, my characters appear as fresh as the day they were written. I won’t say books are timeless. Some of them are and some of them aren’t. I only know that when a book is opened, the reader steps out of ordinary time and into a different dimension. Life might intrude – the phone may ring or the tea kettle whistle – then the book waits, its time suspended until it is opened again. This stopping and starting of ordinary time is an idea Einstein might have considered in his study of relativity. Any reader could have told him the phenomenon is real.