Marcia Bjornerud '83 Explains How The Study Of Geology Instills Timefulness

September 13, 2018
By Marcia Bjornerud in Nautilus

As a geologist and professor I speak and write rather cavalierly about eras and eons. One of the courses I routinely teach is “History of Earth and Life,” a survey of the 4.5-billion-year saga of the entire planet—in a 10-week trimester. But as a human, and more specifically as a daughter, mother, and widow, I struggle like everyone else to look Time honestly in the face. That is, I admit to some time hypocrisy.  [...]  Antipathy toward time clouds personal and collective thinking. [...] Our natural aversion to death is amplified in a culture that casts Time as an enemy and does everything it can to deny its passage. As Woody Allen said: “Americans believe death is optional.”This type of time denial, rooted in a very human combination of vanity and existential dread, is perhaps the most common and forgivable form of what might be called chronophobia.

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