Sense of Time, Sense of Place

Last Updated on June 2, 2020 by

David Abram observes that “The curvature of time in oral cultures is very difficult to articulate on the page, for it defies the linearity of the printed line. Yet to fully engage, sensorially, with one’s earthly surroundings is to find oneself in a world of cycles within cycles within cycles” (186).

I think it is harder for literate cultures to engage the cycles of time that surround us, but I don’t think it is only the provenance of oral or pre-literate cultures. We can observe the changes of the seasons, the phases of the moon, the movement of the stars, and other perpetual cycles in our world, if we choose to do so.

I am aware of my coming menstrual cycle by looking at the phase of the moon. Again, I cannot say when my awareness of the moon’s cycles in conjunction with my own occurred, but it seems completely normal to answer my doctor’s question “when was your last menstrual period?” with “at the last new moon”, even if she requires that I translated that into a calendar date.