First Lady has been so intimately involvedrn—but that she almost completelyrnnegates a case so easily made wellrnthrough her overdose of speculation,rnhearsay, and fantas}’. It does not help thatrnnearly half her sentences begin with “Irnbelieve,” “I think,” or “It seems.”rnNoonan’s book ranges from fim torntouching to weird. Serious, it is not. Andrnit won’t scud een the mildest of Hillaryrnsympathizers screaming in the oppositerndirechon. What a shame; what a missedrnopportunifv’.rnKarina Rollins writes from New York.rnRinse, Pleasernby Andrei NavrozovrnTime: Its Origin, Its Enigma,rnIts Historyrnby Alexander WaughrnNew York: Carroll & Graf;rn288 pp., $25.00rnAs the book’s title has all the lyric delicacyrnof a Rolex advertising campaign,rnand as we quickly discover that itsrnauthor is neither a philosopher nor arnwatchmaker, it becomes clear at the outsetrnthat what we arc up against is the mostrnirritating of genres, popular science. InrnMr. Waugh’s defense, I hasten to addrnthat, for us laymen, one of the most infuriatingrnaspects of the did-you-know approachrnhe plies here is that too often ourrnanswer is a grudging “No.” The result isrnthat the untutored reader, who has ever”rnright to consider himself the untutoredrnwriter’s equal, finds himself learningrnthings against his own better judgment.rnThis is almost as humiliating as listeningrnto your denhst talk about Baudelaire.rnOn the whole, it may be well worth thernunpleasantness, however embarrassing itrnis, to hear Mr. Waugh (grandson of Evelyn,rnson of Auberon) pal around with hisrncrimson-faced audience throughoutrnwhat is undeniably an ill-composed,rnmessy, and repetitive compendium ofrnfacts, conjectures, and ideas. Perhapsrnthat is because this reviewer, in parhcular,rnhas a weakness for Mr. Waugh’s subject,rnand, seeing it twisted this way andrnthat, as it is here, without any apparentrnpurpose and in the absence of a cogentrnthesis, is easily and mightilv pleasedrnnonetheless. Perhaps if you reallv lovernBaudelaire you won’t mind hearingrnabout him between rinses.rnThe lesson of Mr. Waugh’s untidy littlernbook, for me at least, is this: Modernrnman, insofar as he is the aowed creaturernof scientific reason, inhabits a universe ofrnnumbers. The things he counts most assiduouslyrnare time and money. (Incidentall}’,rnI would not mind seeing a book thatrnset out to relativize money even if it werernwritten with the same coltish haphazardnessrnwith which Mr. Waugh tackles hisrnsubject in Time.) Of course, modernrnman’s rahonalit}’ is all make-believe, andrnby far the greater part of his reckoning isrnas much the product of a cultural conventionrnas crossword puzzles, picklingrnrecipes, or Renaissance painting.rnTell the train conductor vho’s checkingrnour ticket to Naples that you’ve hadrna dream about our late grandfather, andrnhe’ll tell ou that ‘ou (jught to pla’ 47 inrnthe weekly lotten- because 47 is the numberrnof a dead man talking. Yet the NewrnYork broker who advises ou to get into estocksrnbecause e-eommerce is the \ ay ofrnthe future is hardK’ more rational, in anyrnmeaningful sense of the word, than thernNeapolitan fantasist. It’s that his vulgarrntautolog} is couched in a more palatablyrnmodern wa.rnSo it is with time. Its objectifieation,rnrepresentation, and measurement is arncult achvih” of modem man, that deludedrnconformist who, instead of listening tornchurch bells or obser’ing the sunset,rnwears a personal wristwatch to proclaimrnhis individualism. Like the impotentrnwho gags at the idea of a love potionrnmade from tiger guts and bat droppingsrnbut will happilv take Viagra, modernrnman is discomfited at the suggestion thatrnhe ought to di’ide his life into the hoursrnoi crepusculum (of dusk), vesperum (ofrnthe eening star), intempestum (of thernnight), galicinium (of the crowing cock),rnand diluculum (of the dawn). He wouldrnhate to be reminded that the hour doesrnnot “have” 60 minutes in it, nor “are”rnthere 60 seconds in a minute, but thatrnthese are mere social comeniences likernproper spelling, acceptable table manners,rnor polite behaior at the theater.rnAnd he would be furious to hear that,rnwhile the earth does turn on its axis (howeverrnabstract this proposition) and goesrnaround the sun (whatever that means),rnthe cocksure confidence with whichrnhe—an irreligious and supersfifious conformist,rnleading a acuous yet rigidly regimentedrnlife—divides his days b- 24 andrnhis years by 365 is no more modern thanrnthe sense of collective securitv that foolsrnhave always found in all recei’ed wisdom.rnA good example of his furv, incidentally,rnare the popular riots that spreadrnacross Europe in the 1580’s, and Englandrnin the early 1750’s, at the introductionrnof the new Gregorian calendar, replacingrnthe Jidian calendar which hadrnbeen in use since 45 B.C.rnThe list of such “relativizing” experiencesrnis long and uncomfortable, culminatingrnperhaps in Einstein’s theorv ofrnspace-time, whichrnwould allow for all times-past,rnpresent, and future—to coexist.rnThat we can only see one plane inrndie time dimension, the present, isrnneither here nor there. When wernlook at a three-dimensional objectrn—a cupboard, for instance—werncannot see all of its sides at once;rnnor would it be sensible to inferrnfrom our one angle of vision thatrnthe other sides of the cupboard dornnot exist. The same is the case forrntime.rnThis is almost a literal, vord for wordrnrepetition of a memorable passage from arntreatise on the philosophy of light in Russianrnicon painting written by Pavel Florenskyrnin 1921, known as The Iconostasis.rnBefore the introduction of perspective—rnitself a cultural convention rather likerntime —religious painting sought to representrnits sacred subjects by means of lightrnupon contiguous planes of time andrnspace. And, of course, it is light that, accordingrnto Einstein, defines infinit}’.rnIn tliis sense, the lesson of Mr. Waugh’srnbook (though irot a wholly intended one,rnI fear) is that, in the 2Lst centur, not tornbelieve in God and Creation is not onlyrnunscientific, it is provincial. The universitv’-rnedueated, well-traveled, newspaperreadingrnmodern man, the Wall Street paterfamiliasrnand culture ulture, proud ofrnhis gold watch and convinced that he isrnnobody’s fool because he can tell ‘ou therntime, is less free, less cosmopolitan, andrnfinally less rational than an illiterate peasantrnliving in an obscure corner of medievalrnEurope.rnAt least the peasant had no delusionsrnabout what made him tick.rnAndrei Navrozov is Ghronieles’rnEuropean correspondent.rn30/CHRONICLESrnrnrn