Hourglass: Dani Shapiro on Time, Memory, Marriage, and What Makes Us Who We Are

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“It is the intentions, the capacities for choice rather than the total configuration of traits which defines the person,” philosopher Amelie Rorty concluded in her taxonomy of the seven layers of identity in literature and life. “Time is the substance I am made of,” wrote Borges decades earlier in refuting the most perplexing dimension of existence. “Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.” How is it, then, that we live both in time and outside of time, with it and against it, constantly balancing between resistance and surrender as we sculpt ourselves through our choices across life?"

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