Aug 30, 2018
Annotations/Journal – Einstein’s Dreams
• Setting and Background Information:
o The novel is set in Berne, Switzerland in the spring of 1905. Einstein is twenty-six years old, working on his theory of relativity in his extra time. The novel portrays Einstein’s dreams on physics, time, and relativity. He published his paper on the special theory of relativity called “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” (ASU). Einstein’s Dreams records the dreams of a genius between April 14 and June 28, 1905, as he develops his theory of time and relatively (ASU). Each dream envisions a distinct world, with time behaving in a distinct way. The connections between people and time are explored in the dreams.
o Birds symbolize time in Einstein’s Dreams. To gain time Figures chase after the birds to trap them, even though the birds will die soon after being trapped. The birds in the novel represent the ever changing nature of time and disperses the belief that one can control time. The narrator compares time to a “fleeting nightingale that the old constantly try to catch.”
• Dream Figures
o The Dream Figures symbolize humanity and the ways in which humans deal with the complex nature of time in their lives. Their aspirations, aversions, and uneasiness are depicted as individual struggles, but their stories have components that everyone can relate to. The people who live in his dreams are not meant to be characters that the reader follows but instead circumstances and examples that are meant demonstrates the ramifications of time inside of the dream worlds.
• Time and Dreams:
o Time is a symbol of nature, and our inability to control it proves that nature is more powerful than humans. The novel shows time in many forms: a river stream, linear, body time, and mechanical time (ASU). We must obey it because we cannot change it. Many of the dreams contemplate if people have free will if we cannot control the passage of time.
• “Each time is true, but truths are not the same”
o In a world where two times exist – mechanical and body time – people seem to live in two different realities. “The first is as rigid and metallic as a massive pendulum of iron that swings back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The second squirms and wriggles like a bluefish in a bay. The first is unyielding, predetermined. The second makes up its mind as it goes along.” Lightman suggests that people can only choose one: “they can make a world in either time, but not in both times,” because otherwise they would live in two worlds concurrently, and that is unthinkable. Adopting this idea into our everyday life, it must be noted that people always want to make the most of their time and have both the mechanical and body time but that is impossible so we must make a decision and choose only one. Time is what grounds people to a certain form of existence, if a clock did not exist one would sleep to what we consider odd hours of the day so time serves as an actor for mankind to divide their lives into livable chunks.
• My Opinion
o Einstein’s Dreams is a vivid representation of the truths of society and society’s reliance on and interaction with time. By reading this book, I have gained a better understanding of the impact of time in our lives. I have understood that time also gives rise to the context in which events happen. In one context an event might play out in a certain way and in another time it may play out in a different way due to a change in variables, for example, a city in a gray, biting, and frosty winter while the same city but in a different season like spring would be an entirely different place. Lightman states that time moves in three directions and decisions has three distinct outcomes. Whether consciously or subconsciously, people function according to the limits that time sets. Some carefully calculate all their actions in life but the world is a world of changed plans, leaving many things incomplete (ASU). I have also realized that those who are caught up in the past and are trapped in time will be alone and are less likely to be happy as compared to those look towards the future. Time has helped me heal whenever I have been in distress. Moreover, managing time wisely can help people lead more productive lives. The novel is an epitome of the realities of time and the struggle of the human spirit.
“EINSTEIN’S DREAMS.” Arizona State University, EinsteinsDreams.htm.