Friday, 29 January 2010

Why life speeds up

A couple of years ago I was walking past the CUP bookshop in town and I saw a title in the window: Why Life Speeds Up as You Get Older. And I thought,‘Yes!’ And I bought it. But sadly I haven’t had time to read it yet.

I’d been meaning to say that for ages—it was one of the numerous things on my blogging backlog—but it only appears here today because I wanted to play with twitterfeed, and posting ‘This is a test’ after several weeks of silence seemed a bit pathetic. So I picked the easiest thing out of the backlog.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Ten implausible years

After dinner yesterday evening, in the final hours of the decade, the conversation turned to fiction that is based on counterfactual history (Fatherland and so on). Someone pointed out that this has an inherent limitation: it mustn’t surprise you too thoroughly, because of the need to keep the story plausible. Reality, on the other hand, is not constrained in the same way. And over the last ten years it has been taking full advantage of this freedom. As someone else said last night, since 9/11 we all seem to have been living in some kind of parallel universe.

My personal experience of the 21st century so far has been rather implausible, too. Most of what I was doing at the turn of the millennium could reasonably have been predicted at least 15 years before that, by extrapolation (not the details, of course, but the broad trends). The disruptive event in my life was the dotcom bubble, right at the start of the decade. I was just sitting there at my desk, minding my own business (or rather, my employer’s), when it picked me up, whirled me around, and then—pop!—deposited me, a bit shaken, in a delightful spot on the bank of the river. The consequences of this are still working themselves out. It was the start of a journey, and I don’t know yet where I’m going.