Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Quoth the Scotsman | David Towsey on the Distance of Difference

I've been feeling my age of late.

Given the content of the last Quoth the Scotsman, you must've imagined as much. Continuing along those lines, then, I came across a particularly perceptive passage in David Towsey's debut, which I'll be reviewing in full on the site soon, discussing how time affects our understanding of distance.

And vice versa, because distance, I find, also influences our perception of time. But we'll leave that subject for another day, eh?

What follows is an excerpt from Councilman Cirr's lecture to the attendees of the Black Mountain Common Consensus: a punctuated prologue of sorts that has — worry not — little bearing on the book's plot. 
An appreciation of distance is always framed by an understanding of time. To a human child, tomorrow could seem a hundred miles away. A twenty-minute walk, from one side of a town to the other, is a vast and tiring expedition. But as they grow, the world around them shrinks. Over the years they shift their expectations of time, of what could and should be achieved in a single day. They begin to think of the future and the past. They lose a minute-by-minute existence, an immediacy of needs and wants. This is the transition from child to adult. 
And then, everything is reversed. The world shrinks again. It takes twice as long to walk anywhere; confined in their homes, only the most essential journeys seem worth the effort. Thoughts turn to making the most of their time. The past holds too many memories; the future, only an end. This is the transition from adult to elder. 
An example: a boy dreams of the Redlands. They are an expanse of adventure and possibility. As he grows into a man he discovers that the map of Pierre County disagrees — the Redlands are a set of lines the size of a thumb. His adult eyes realise the relative scale: big, but a space that has its limits. Then then man becomes elderly. He looks on the same map again and marvels at the sheer size of that rocky wasteland. 
There is only one disruption to this cycle. For some it is final, for others only moments. To those lucky enough to be born again, time becomes infinite and distance is reduced to nothing. 
This is the transition from human to Walkin'. (pp.99-100)
The very transition Your Brother's Blood's protagonist undergoes at the outset of what must be the most engrossing zombie novel I've read since Exit Kingdom.

Expect more on David Towsey's debut in early September, when he and I plan to put our heads together to talk about faith, before and after the fall.

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