While I was on vacation last week, I read David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks, and I have what might be a strange theory about it. I'll talk about some other time. What's been on my mind, though, is the strange relationship I develop with books that I read when I'm away from normal life, on vacation or days off.
I'm never so aware of time as when I'm on vacation: every day, no matter how enjoyable and restorative, is also a scrawled slash through another day on the calendar. Holidays are microcosms of lifespan, precious for their finiteness. As a result, the books I read when I'm away become suffused with the changing emotions of the trip - from the first breath of limitlessness that comes with immersing yourself in a new work, to the sorrows of dwindling pages and an inevitable end.
I was thinking about previous books I've read in similar circumstances, like Peter Watts' Blindsight, in which human beings travel into space to meet an alien presence that clearly developed under wildly different conditions. I was SCUBA diving, venturing into a hostile and alien environment, the closest thing to zero-gravity found on earth. Just as the aliens' bodies reflect a different origin, the body morphology displayed in lifeforms that developed in a marine environment differs from those that had to resist the press of gravity. (Also, the wireframe body of the dancer in my last post reminded me the texture in a sea sponge.)
Apparently, even marine creatures born in zero gravity have difficulty adjusting when they come back to our gravity well. The lack of gravity during their development may be preventing them from building appropriate nervous system connections to recognize and use information on which way is up.
Sort of like how I feel after I draw a line through that last precious day on the calendar and come back to the gravity of my everyday life.