by Eva Hoffman
BIG IDEAS // small books / A Picador Paperback Original
• An AIGA's 50 Books // 50 Covers Best Cover 2009 Selection
Novelist, cultural commentator, memoirist, and historian Eva Hoffman examines our ever-changing perception of time in this inspired addition to the BIG IDEAS/small books series
Time has always been the great given, the element that establishes the governing facts of human fate that cannot be circumvented, deconstructed, or wished away. But these days we are tampering with time in ways that affect how we live, the textures of our experience, and our very sense of what it is to be human. What is the nature of time in our time? Why is it that even as we live longer than ever before, we feel that we have ever less of this basic good? What effects do the hyper fast technologies—computers, video games, and instant communications—have on our inner lives and even our bodies? And as we examine biology and mind on evermore microscopic levels, what are we learning about the process and parameters of human time? Hoffman regards our relationship to time—from jet lag to aging, sleep to cryogenic freezing—in this broad, eye-opening meditation on life’s essential medium and its contemporary challenges.
It’s about Time, but what aspect of time? When you have plenty of it, it never comes to mind. You only think about it when you're running out of it. That’s what I needed to think about. With deadlines approaching and running out of time, I think and let go. Sometimes after the end of a long workday, with time standing still, I stare at my wall and my mind drifts. The afternoon’s setting sun begins to cast shadows of my windowpane across my office wall.
It made me think of the long shadows of late August. That melancholy moment when you realize that summer is almost over. Where the sunlight becomes golden, hazy and lazy. That's when time makes itself known. When it tells me that moments are drifting away. Goodbye summer. That’s what time is to me. Fleeting moments.
I’ve already established this BIG IDEAS series with a minimal color palette and minimal imagery. Using a golden color would be out of place. But I was also designing another subject in the BIG IDEAS/small books series about the British SIXTIES where I needed to incorporate the red, white and blue of the Union Jack. I had to break my rules. I placed my type along the shadow's edge. The transition point that separates day from night. Interesting thing about this image is that it’s not a photograph. I didn't want to use a stock image. It seemed simple enough to photograph live. But I was designing this in the wrong time of the year, winter. So I mocked up my concept by creating it in Photoshop with Gaussian blurs and gradient masks. I did have photographer Jon Shireman shoot this as he has for all of the other in this series. But I decided to stay with my mock up because it just seemed to capture the mood I wanted. Sorry Jon. But wait till you see what we came up for the next in the series, CHOICE. I can't wait to show you.
It's a beautiful autumn here in NYC and summer's a distant memory. Replaced with apple picking, butternut squash, crisp blue skies, rustling leaves, cocktail parties, great weather for leather and dressing in layers. Hello autumn! Did you have a nice summer?