Turn and Jump: How Time & Place Fell Apart

Overview

Before Thomas Edison, light and fire were thought to be one and the same. Turns out, they were separate things altogether. This book takes a similar relationship, that of time and place, and shows how they, too, were once inseparable. Time keeping was once a local affair, when small towns set their own pace according to the rising and setting of the sun. Then, in 1883, the expanding railroads necessitated the creation of Standard Time zones, and communities became linked by a universal time. Here Howard Mansfield...

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Turn and Jump: How Time & Place Fell Apart

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Overview

Before Thomas Edison, light and fire were thought to be one and the same. Turns out, they were separate things altogether. This book takes a similar relationship, that of time and place, and shows how they, too, were once inseparable. Time keeping was once a local affair, when small towns set their own pace according to the rising and setting of the sun. Then, in 1883, the expanding railroads necessitated the creation of Standard Time zones, and communities became linked by a universal time. Here Howard Mansfield explores how our sudden interconnectedness, both physically, as through the railroad, and through inventions like the telegraph, changed our concept of time and place forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Deb Baker's Book Blog
Mansfield's writing is lyrical and figurative, but clear and simple. On describing the town of Turners Falls, MA, where British colonists massacred Native Americans in 1676, and where the falls where salmon once spawned were dammed, Mansfield writes, Turners Falls is divorced from deep time, from the true history of the land. For thousands of years this place kept time by the salmon leaping the falls and the Indians fathering to fish. He tells readers he realizes why he was uncomfortable there: What I had felt on my first visit was the pain of divorce. This synthesis of history, sociology, and personal reflection makes Turn & Jump both contemplative (like wabi, which Koren tells us refers to the inward, the subjective) and informative (like sabi, which refers to the outward, the objective). Ranging from vaudeville (where the title comes from) to outlet damn on a small lake in New Hampshire to a family store in a small town, covering everything from the standardization of time to suit railroad schedules to the nonlinear view of time held by native peoples, Mansfield guides readers along routes of inquiry well researched but never dry. Mansfield is a great writer, and a great thinker. Read his book and you'll feel as if you're talking with your smartest friend.
BILL KAUFFMAN
Hyperactive moderns, running late and never quite catching up to their schedules, are apt to fret that there is simply not enough time in the day. Howard Mansfield would argue that there is too much time-too much consciousness of time, anyway, and too much uniformity in the way we think about it. Throw out your clocks, he advises in Turn & Jump, a series of essays on the cleavage of time and place.
Publishers Weekly
Early in this fascinating gem, Mansfield (In the Memory House) explains how time and place, "once inseparable" (as with fire and light before Edison's electric bulb), became distinct concepts in the late 19th century when railroads created Standard Time Zones. This is the simple yet enthralling premise that forms the jumping-off point for Mansfield's investigation into the meaning of progress. "What we want from the past is presence," writes Mansfield. "We want the moment restored," and a handful of chapters detail examples of bygone times: an ancient grandfather clock, hollowed and packed with generations of children's mittens, marks time in a more profound way; a clever young man's money-making scheme gives birth to "Continuous Vaudeville," where shows run for 12 hours; a farmer's almanac from 1860 reveals a time kept by season and sun ("the hour and the minute were not important," writes Mansfield). Mansfield inspires readers to contemplate accepted definitions and measurements of commonplace, yet elusive, concepts. "Throw out your clocks," he instructs, carve out a little time and place for yourself, and enjoy this book. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442226388
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/7/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 1,304,685
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Howard Mansfield has contributed to The New York Times, American Heritage, The Washington Post, Historic Preservation, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Yankee, and other publications on the topics of preservation, architecture, and American history. Mansfield has explored issues of preservation in five books including In the Memory House, The Same Ax, Twice, and The Bones of the Earth.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2012

    "Turn & Jump takes us to the very soul of America."

    This is a book about time and place. They were once inseparable.

    Before the railroads required the creation of Standard Time zones in 1883, timekeeping was a local affair. Small towns set their own pace according to the rising and setting of the sun. Our sudden interconnectedness, both physically and through inventions like the telegraph, changed our concept of time and place forever. The origins of our 24/7 world can be found in these great changes.

    In Turn & Jump, historic preservationist Howard Mansfield looks at a few of the “clocks” we carry. He explores time in a once-common, now-vanished dry-goods store; in the invention of Continuous Vaudeville; in an old mill family defending water rights; in an 1880s Broadway hit that is still performed annually; and in the lingering effects of a bloody war that one historian calls the first American Revolution—a war many Americans don’t even know happened.

    “Turn & Jump lights up the present by shining a beam on the past, something Howard Mansfield does better than anyone else,” said Elizabeth Pochoda, the editor of The Magazine Antiques. “From stories about vaudeville to reflections upon water mills or shopping malls, he reads American culture in a way that collapses the distance between what we were and what we are.”

    “Chapter by chapter, Mansfield takes the reader deeper into worlds familiar and strange, illuminating both this historical process and its human cost,” said Eric Miller in Books & Culture: A Christian Review. “But this is not a political book except in the deepest sense; Mansfield stays clear of the fruitless ideological blame-game, an indulgence for which it is way too late. His inquiry rather takes him into the soul of the civilization that imagined and countenanced such changes.”

    “Like Thoreau, Mr. Mansfield is a keen observer and, in his neck of New Hampshire, a granitic critic of the rushed life,” said The Wall Street Journal.

    And John Heilpern, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, said, “As an excavator and guardian of our living past, Howard Mansfield is unmatched. This decent, unpretentious, wonderful writer possesses the sensibility of a poet combined with boundless curiosity and deep, deep knowledge. In its quiet, persistent, honest search for timelessness and truth amidst the clamor of our uncertain times, Turn & Jump takes us to the very soul of America.”

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