I am not usually a fiction writer which is why perhaps I am an early riser, because when Simon is away and I write fiction in the evenings time goes so strangely fast that I am awake late into the night before I have even washed the dishes. In Susan Stewart’s book On Longing she talks about the relation between the experience of duration and the experience of scale: a psychology experiment involved people moving little figures around in models of houses, instructed to imagine themselves that size and to make the models do what they themselves would ordinarily do in that space. They were asked to keep doing this for about half an hour, but they were given no clock, just told to stop when they felt they’d been going for about that long. Their sense of time turned out to be astonishingly proportionate to the scale of the model they were asked to work with: if they were working with a 1:12 model, they thought they’d been moving figures around for 30 minutes after 5 minutes; if a 1:24 model, it only took 2 and a half minutes for them to think the time must be up. How strange! This is so astonishing I’m not really sure I believe it. But it makes some kind of sense of how fast time flies when I am writing stories but then I wonder, why are the people so little in my head? What is the scale I am working with, since I thought I was imagining them out in the world, at a 1:1 scale, picturing the world as large as the world I live in? Are they actually contained in a head-sized space - but then isn’t the world outside me also contained in the head-sized space in which I perceive it?
(Now my neck has seized up and I cannot write. The first three chapters of the story I was writing are here.)
These are paragraphs without essays or books to go in.