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Chronophilia; or, Biding Time in a Solar System


Hall, Marcus (2019). Chronophilia; or, Biding Time in a Solar System. Environmental Humanities, 11(2):373-401.

Abstract

Having evolved in a dynamic solar system, all life on earth has adapted to and depends on recurring and repeating cycles of light, heat, and gravity. Our sleep cycles, reproductive cycles, and emotional cycles are all linked in varying ways to planetary motion even though we continually disrupt, modify, or extend these cycles to go about our personal and collective business. This essay explores how our sense of time is both physiological and cultural, with deep ramifications for confronting such challenges as jet lag, navigation, calendar construction, shift work, and even life span. Although chronobiologists have posited the existence of a Zeitgeber, or external master clock that serves to reset our internal clocks, it has become clear that any master clock relies as much on natural elements (such as a rising sun) as cultural elements (such as an alarm clock). Moreover the “circa” of circadian rhythms, suggests that our activities and emotions recur, not in exact twenty-four-hour cycles, but in more plastic and approximate cycles that, according to circumstance and individual, may span somewhat longer or shorter periods than one earthly rotation. Or as one chronobiologist explains, “Any one physiologic variable is characterized by a spectrum of rhythms that are genetically anchored, sociologically synchronized . . . and influenced by heliogeophysical effects.” As we contemplate faster and further travel and other activities that disrupt our biorhythms, we need to develop greater awareness of chronophilia, our attachment to rhythm, our love of familiar time.

Abstract

Having evolved in a dynamic solar system, all life on earth has adapted to and depends on recurring and repeating cycles of light, heat, and gravity. Our sleep cycles, reproductive cycles, and emotional cycles are all linked in varying ways to planetary motion even though we continually disrupt, modify, or extend these cycles to go about our personal and collective business. This essay explores how our sense of time is both physiological and cultural, with deep ramifications for confronting such challenges as jet lag, navigation, calendar construction, shift work, and even life span. Although chronobiologists have posited the existence of a Zeitgeber, or external master clock that serves to reset our internal clocks, it has become clear that any master clock relies as much on natural elements (such as a rising sun) as cultural elements (such as an alarm clock). Moreover the “circa” of circadian rhythms, suggests that our activities and emotions recur, not in exact twenty-four-hour cycles, but in more plastic and approximate cycles that, according to circumstance and individual, may span somewhat longer or shorter periods than one earthly rotation. Or as one chronobiologist explains, “Any one physiologic variable is characterized by a spectrum of rhythms that are genetically anchored, sociologically synchronized . . . and influenced by heliogeophysical effects.” As we contemplate faster and further travel and other activities that disrupt our biorhythms, we need to develop greater awareness of chronophilia, our attachment to rhythm, our love of familiar time.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:1 November 2019
Deposited On:17 Mar 2020 12:00
Last Modified:07 Apr 2020 07:27
Publisher:Duke University Press
ISSN:2201-1919
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1215/22011919-7754523

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