This book is so uncharacteristically unique: it’s a collection of dreams as the title suggests. Time is the central character, and it comes disguised in as many forms & interpretations that can be conceived, or rather, that Einstein can imagine. And throughout, it has this surreal, dreamlike, hallucinatory quality to it. I wasn’t completely onboard at the start, but the more I read, the more fascinating it became.
Alan Lightman is a physicist, so I was expecting a lot of interplay of science and physics in his elucidations of time. However, it really isn’t that. It’s a philosophical, creative, weirdly imaginative & at times playful collection of different worlds in which time functions differently.
There is a world in which time exists in concentric circles. At the centre, time freezes and people are rushing to that centre to freeze into a moment of complete contentment. In one world, memory doesn’t exist, and I loved the interpretation of how humanity would function if there was no concept of memory or retention. There is another in which, every instance of a decision, time splits into 3 dimensions, similar to the spatial coordinates. And parallel universes exist with these parallel decisions, eventually leading to infinity. There is one in which time is a sense, like smell, touch, sight, etc. Try to fathom that! I could go on and on.
Some of them are different interpretations of the same core idea, but it works, because aren’t dreams like that? A thought manifesting in different ways? If you find it initially bizarre, persist, as you begin to find depth & meaning in these wildly imaginative pursuits.
Rating: 3/5 (its a really short read). I’d recommend you check this out if you’re interested in exploring paradoxical, poetic twists on the concept of time. Some interpretations are very interesting, some not so much, but worth a read!