Professor Cynthia Port
3 September 2014
Happiness in Segregation
From the outside looking in, Inequality is easy to spot. From the inside looking out, a different story is told. Einstein’s Dreams, by Alan Lightman, is composed of many short vignettes depicting Einstein’s different theories of time. Each vignette is a world with different circumstances of time, for example in one world time flows backwards, in another time is a circle and individuals of that particular world are endlessly repeating themselves. Two of Einstein’s dreams in particular, April 26th 1905 and June 9th 1905, are two worlds of seemingly great inequality due to how time affects both worlds but does this make its inhabitants unhappy? Lightman uses both of these vignettes to show even in a divided world, people can still choose their own happiness.
April 26th 1905 Einstein dreams of a world where time flows slower the farther away one is from the center of the earth. Most of its inhabitants live in the mountains, and even put their houses on stilts. Height is a status, the higher up one lives, the slower they will age. On occasion urgent business would force people to climb down from their homes, which they would do so haste. Each moment they are on the ground they will age a little more quickly so they were always running. Very few inhabitants of this world spent most of their time on the ground level, but those who do are very happy and content with their lives. They lay back, enjoy the scenery, and scoff at the people who rush by them. Taking their time and enjoying the warmer climates is what makes them happy even though they knew they were aging a little faster. The people who live in the high altitudes breath in thinner air and live on sparing diets, which end up making them bony and old before their time. Because of this, despite their efforts, everyone ages the same in the end. Both types of inhabitants are content with their lifestyle choices,...
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