Believe it or not, this book came to my house faster than any other one. I live in Chile and it took just five days to arrive: normally it takes more.
I'm not kidding. I read it in a week and it's still with me, I mean, the ideas and associations that James Gleick does between time and whatever facts of life. Since I read "Faster" I'm always thinking on that curious idea of doing anything faster or in the shortest way possible. But then, what do I get. After all, I said to myself, you did something (whatever) in fifteen minutes less, so what. What those fifteen minutes mean. What do you do now in order to fill up that surplus. The time you win is here, waiting to be used, but the question remains: how.
So this book isn't just a matter of time. That's why it begins with a chapter named "Pacemaker" and finish, just before "The end," with another named "Bored." In between you have thirty five topics or approachings to this crazy idea of going faster not matter why. In this vein, the author takes his time to attack the subject of living faster from different directions: the epoch, the technology, the globalization, the nets, the links, the nodes. And the place where you live: "All humanity has not succumbed equally, of course. If you make haste, you probably make it in the technology-driven Western world, probably in the United States, probably in a large city... Sociologists in sevarel countries have found that increasing wealth and increasing education bring a sense of tension about time... What is true is that we are awash in things, in information, in news... and --strange perhaps-- stuff means speed."
Time -the author tells us-- is not what you have, is that what you live in. A flux that has been segmented in hours, minutes and seconds in our clocks. Do you wear a watch? If you do, then you have been defeated by the matrix of the alloted time. But if you don't, if you live in a forest, far from the madding crowd, what did you get? Time? More time?
Perhaps, the solution to this conundrum is the advice that Anne Morrow Lindbergh gave us in her Gift from the Sea: time is not an issue about quantity but of quality. At any rate, we find in Gleick's book several recipes for dealing with this "something" that is always filtering out from our present, fading away, leaking out. One of such recipes is the multitasking perspective. "No segment of time," says Gleick, "can really be a zero-sum game." You can "drive, eat, listen to a book, and talk on the phone, all at once, if you dare." Maybe is true. All of us have try that sometime. But the problem persists.
Faster doesn't mean better or more. As a quote by Lao Tse I found in a Don de Lillo's novel (White Noise): "There is no difference between the quick and the dead. Both are a unique channell of vitality." James Gleick's book is a comprehensive and very disturbing work about our way of living that doesn't offer a way out, just the insight of a highly clever awareness.
So it deserves your time to read it.