Academic journal article et Cetera

"It's about Time"

Academic journal article et Cetera

"It's about Time"

Article excerpt

"Culture hides much more than it reveals ... most effectively from its own participants." (Hall, p.29)

HALL ELABORATES on how closely Americans link the ideas of time, speech and action throughout The Silent Language. So closely, in fact, that we must try to view our own society from the outside in, so we can try to analyze our own culture as unbiased as we can.

As Hall compares the difference by Americans saying we're "in the rain" and Arabs being "under the rain," it also occurred to me that the same can be said about the tendency to overstate our whole-being's relationship with time. Hall mainly concentrates on our expressions of exact timeness: in a minute, in an hour, in a while. But he doesn't explore statements like "in a hurry." This, as well as our specific denominations of time, gives our urgency for our whole being to be somewhere an all-encompassing quality. By saying one is in a hurry, the underlying reason is, of course, time scarcity. Our whole being is "in a hurry" the same way we say our physical body has to be "in the car" in order to get there "in an hour."

Time and its "acceptable" limits are variables always in flux in our culture. Limits are the reason that entire presidential speeches are condensed to mere sound bites and movies receive criticism if they exceed the culturally tolerable limit of about two hours. Time limits are the reasons why, when we describe things that take a long time, we readily call them dull, as when we say that it is about as exciting as "watching paint dry." Each of these events - listening to a whole speech, watching a long movie, waiting for paint to dry - implies a state of inactivity, which further produces a feeling of boredom to many people in our culture.

Music provides much insight to the extent of our attention spans. Most pop songs fall within the three-to-four minute range. Interestingly, that is precisely the amount of lateness that is acceptable before people become uncomfortable. Threaded through this idea of music is the variety factor. Hall lists this as one of the things that contributes to boredom. A common complaint about, for example, rap music by a country music fan would be, "It all sounds the same." The rap fan would likely say the same about country. The problem with the cyclical debate about which kind of music is superior over another won't be resolved until both parties listen to the other's music without judgment. …

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