THE DANCE OF LIFE: The Other Dimension of Time by Edward T. Hall

THE DANCE OF LIFE: The Other Dimension of Time

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Rambling reflections--now anecdotal, now theoretical--on the ways people in various cultures perceive time and consequently shape their social behavior. Hall, who has done this sort of distillation before (The Silent Language, 1959; The Hidden Dimension, 1966), works some interesting veins of anthropology here; but the result is nuggets of incidental (though sometimes quite suggestive) information rather than bars of deep or systematic thought. Hall's basic point is that the rhythmic patterns running through the lives of ""monochronic"" (following a discrete linear order) Americans and Europeans differ radically from the ones pervading the world of ""polychronic"" (attending to many objects at once) Arabs, Japanese, Hopis, etc. This parallels Einstein's notion that there are as many kinds of time--none of them uniquely privileged--as there are clocks (biological, psychological, physical) to read them by. Either way, we can better understand the tensions that arise, for example, when white bureaucrats, try to organize Indian reservations or communicate with blacks or Hispanics. Hall's presentation, however, has some serious flaws: loosely structured arguments, scatter shot documentation, truisms (""There is still much to be learned from the proper study of other cultures""). But if Hall's abrupt transitions from technical talk (""proxemics"") to homey reminiscence (youthful days in Arizona) and back may confuse a few laymen and irritate a few students, his analyses of time-frames, especially the narrow, hyperkinetic Western variety, are intelligent and ponderable.

Pub Date: Feb. 4th, 1982
ISBN: 0385192487
Publisher: Doubleday