Einstein's Dreams | Study Guide

Alan Lightman

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Course Hero. "Einstein's Dreams Study Guide." March 30, 2017. Accessed January 19, 2019. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Einsteins-Dreams/.


Course Hero, "Einstein's Dreams Study Guide," March 30, 2017, accessed January 19, 2019, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Einsteins-Dreams/.

Einstein's Dreams | 20 June 1905 | Summary



In this world time changes according to location. If two clocks are near each other, they pass the time at the same pace. But clocks that are farther apart keep time differently—the farther apart the greater the difference. Cities do not do business with each other since they understand time differently. Each city stands alone and must provide everything for itself. If people leave their city of origin they never return; they must adjust to a new city's time after being "cut off in time" from their former city. Some are content to stay in their original city, but others yearn for contact with people from the outside and eventually leave.


This dream world connects to other dream worlds in which time keeps people separate from one another. Lightman presents a paradox in which cities are kept apart because of time differences; as a result they become diverse but isolated. Each city is remarkably unique because cities can't influence one another, but since most people don't leave their city they never have the perspective to appreciate their own city's or other cities' uniqueness. The narrator notes, "The abundances caused by isolation are stifled by the same isolation." Here Lightman shows people are rarely content to stay isolated; they fundamentally yearn for connection and outside influence. Yet in this world when they leave home they can never return, which might eventually make them feel even more alone and isolated.

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