To the editors:
John Stevenson wrote an excellent review of Michael O’Malley’s book, Keeping Watch: A History of American Time [“Reading: Good Time, Bad Time,” November 30]. However, I feel that Stevenson’s counterpoints to O’Malley’s lamentations about industrialization betray a narrow view shared by the majority in our society.
To my mind, there can be absolutely no denying that O’Malley’s “sun time” (can I say that in this paper?) is a more “natural” time than today’s quartz time, regardless of the natural purity of quartz crystals. Considering the two equally natural on these grounds is like comparing homemade bread to Wonder Extra Flaccid. By dubbing it “natural,” O’Malley clearly has in mind that it is plain and simple rather than overcomplex with detail and a bitch to maintain. Stevenson is splitting semantic hairs on this one.
As for O’Malley’s nostalgia, a general lesson can and must be learned by those who object to the locomotives of progress: We can get by on so much less; why are we being so wasteful? We pat ourselves on the back for recycling and increasing efficiency, but those just serve to help us avoid the real issue of waste, in terms of both matter and time. (By the way, has the Reader been looking toward tomorrow by significantly reducing its press run in favor of on-line media? Hang the traditions; you’re killing too many trees!)