Time Passages

Discussion in 'General Discussion & Questions' started by Walter Oobleck, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. Walter Oobleck

    Walter Oobleck keeps coming back...or going, and going, and going

    Al Stewart's song Time Passages seems to go hand-in-hand w/this idea I've been discovering while reading Stephen King stories, as well as stories from a number of other writers. In fact, I think it's only been in the last year or two while reading others that I began to take note of it.

    What I mean is the manner in which a character in a story will let his mind go drifting into time passages...to borrow a phrase from Stewart's song. It's a haunting melody. Check it out. While the context of his song doesn't necessarily apply to what I'm trying to convey that buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight seems to apply.

    Okay...the subject: I find it fascinating when a writer has a character imagine things. I've been reading Elmore Leonard...have about 30 of his titles complete. I've discovered time passages in at least three of his stories now, Out of Sight, The Big Bounce, & Bandits. In Out of Sight, Karen, one of the main characters is driving down the road and she has an extended and imaginary conversation with her old man. In The Big Bounce, story I'm on now, there's a lady who is in her hotel room and imagines scenes with Jack, the bad boy of this story...a scene that isn't quite a sexual fantasy, although that lies at the root of it...the idea of that fantasy explains what I mean by time passages.

    The thing of it is, I've not seen it often...even though I think scenes like this bring the story to life. Who hasn't imagined long drawn out scenes...maybe the police knocking on the door, maybe a loved on in an accident, and who hasn't has a sexual fantasy. But the thing about these time passages is that they have all been varied, different, and that scene in The Big Bounce is the closest to a "sexual fantasy" of all of them I've come across in recent reads.

    In Look Homeward Angel, Wolfe has his protagonist, Eugene, reading a story, several pages of it...and following the story, Eugene begins to imagine more and that goes on for some pages. In another scene in The Big Bounce, Jack imagines a scene unfolding...this is what would happen. I've been keeping a kind of record of them, shelving some of these reads under the heading time passages.

    King has been great at this, too...and how much can I write without pizzing someone off because they think it's a spoiler? To me a spoiler is knowing if someone dies or not, not whether or not Father Callahan got on the bus. Anyway...and this is part of the dilemma...that in reading King, I didn't take note of what I've come to call time passages. They do exist, say like in Dreamcatcher, the back room of the mind, the file drawers...know what I mean if you read it? Or more recently in Doctor Sleep...a similar scene, similar description...a character imagining something. Or take Danny in The Shining. Or say like Jake under New York...or earlier, that cave of voices. King has a wide variety of time passages in his stories.

    What I'm wondering is why don't more writers use the tool? We all imagine things...long extended scenes that unfold in our mind, we all imagine, what, the cop knocking on the door. That seems to be a favorite one of mine. Call the police. Quick quick quick. Better not get side-tracked here.

    What instances in either King's work or in the work of other writers do YOU recall where a character imagines things?

    I can post some more instances from my reading later on if you are interested. I'm interested in what you have discovered, if any, as the stories where I've found them I've enjoyed maybe more so than where they do not exist. Thanks!
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  2. skimom2

    skimom2 Just moseyin' through...

    It's a hard technique to manage, IMHO, without the transitions between reality and thoughts (memories, dreams, fantasies, etc) being clumsy, heavy handed, or otherwise slapping the reader out of the suspension of disbelief trance that a writer is aiming for. On reading Lisey's Story again, I was floored by how deftly Mr. King slipped through time and space, between memory and reality. It was really a beautiful thing to behold, because it's so damned hard to do well.
  3. Walter Oobleck

    Walter Oobleck keeps coming back...or going, and going, and going

    Here's some more information:
    • Nobody's Fool, Richard Russo, Miss Beryl imagines conversations with her deceased husband, a short scene, and the tool Russo uses to engage the action is a photo of her husband.
    • Tommykockers, don't recall her name, but a female character imagines...or it really happens...Jesus stepping out of a photo and engaging her in conversation.
    • Look Homeward, Angel, Thomas Wolfe...this is in chapter 9, page 90+ in my USA paperback version of the story. Eugene, a younger kid in chapter 9, is reading , in this pillage of loaded shelves, he actually reads short scenes from several different stories...one sounds like Old Englande or something, the other a 'native' setting...and afterward, he would enact the bawdy fable of school-boys, and picture himself in hot romance with a handsome teacher. These scenes are much more protracted than Russo's singular short scene...maybe about the same length as the Jesus/Tommyknocker scene.
    • Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, Richard Farina: in this one...this is from memory here...I've got 'notes/index' and I'll check it later for facts...but in this one, a mother character and a son-child character are alone on stage...as I recall they are actually...on the run?...anyway, the son asks the mother for...something. She begins to narrate for him an imagined story. I dunno why but for some reason my brain is thinking the Hundred Acre Wood...maybe that's a phrase in her story?
    • Of Mice & Men/ Blaze , Steinbeck/King...don't recall which was the 'slow' character, Lenny? Remember that scene where he is alone, the other guy isn't with him and he begins to imagine the other guy talking to him...and the same sort of thing happens in Blaze? And too, that brings to mind The Girl Who Love Tom Gordon, which is a kind of extended time passages.
    • The Winter of Our Discontent, Steinbeck...small scenes only, Ethan, conversing with the captain, Captain Hawley, his grandfather.
    • Stone Junction, Jim Dodge: and oops! This is the story, not Farina's, where a younger character is indulged by his mother. Daniel sobbed, "I just want to have something. Something I can imagine." I'll check out my Farina notes later to find that time passages...
    • Jakob von Guten, Robert Walser, character imagines himself a soldier under Napoleon...and here , as I recall, it is not what you'd expect, given that brief description I've provided.
    • Betrayed by Rita Hayworth, Manuel Puig, just looked at my 'review' and that does not provide me with anything...but in this one, story of a young boy, his progression through life...he imagines all manner of things and we're privy to that...best I can remember. I'll look again later.
    • Doctor Glas, Hjalmar Soderberg, and he sets it up with this phrase: my thoughts idled into a fantasy with which I divert myself at times...
    • From Here to Eternity, James Jones
    • Killshot, Bandits, Out of Sight, The Big Bounce, Elmore Leonard
    • Texaxville, Larry McMurtry
    • The Death Ship, B Traven
    That's a taste...more later. ​
  4. Spideyman

    Spideyman Uber Member

    Have seen it in many of Sk books-- Lisey's Story/ Bag of Bones/ Insomnia/Dark Tower journey. It boggles my mind how well this happens in SK books. It's a gift that he has and shares so well.
  5. Walter Oobleck

    Walter Oobleck keeps coming back...or going, and going, and going

    Soon as I hit "post" Gerald's Game came to mind...Rose Madder...heh! Maybe it was the short scenes in other stories...a kind of...what? a cold drink of water on a hot day...maybe it was reading those shorts that brought it to the surface as I do really enjoy those kind of scenes. There's another idea I've been toying with, the mark of zero...and that too has been brought to the surface...James Jones. He has this great scene that is like the Smoke Hole in It. In his From Here to Eternity. Too, I've wondered if 'fantasy' is more...something...conducive? to time passages?
  6. VultureLvr45

    VultureLvr45 Well-Known Member

    Hey Walter,

    Check out my favorite movie about time passage, Chronos (IMAX) by Ron Frick. There are no words in it.
  7. Walter Oobleck

    Walter Oobleck keeps coming back...or going, and going, and going

    • Love and War in California, Oakley Hall: there is a short...one/two sentence...a character, Payton, using his imagination on the water taxi to the yacht...and another time, this one a bit longer, in The brand's offices...as he begins to write the piece on the youth and the judge. That 1st one, what happens is Payton sees this yacht...I think Erroll Flynn owns it and this girl Payton likes is already on board and he begins to imagine things.
    • Texasville, McMurtry, listed above...time-passages...this time applies to Sonny...whose mind is slipping...and...at one point, he's in the balcony, imagining a movie playing out on the screen that is no more...a nice touch and too, the balcony is all that is left of the movie theatre, or that's how I recall the description. Anyway, the theatre is/has been falling apart, so yeah...ooga booga, lots of symbolism there.
    And that provides a kind of link to a like-kind exchange of sorts.
    • Darkness Visible, William Styron: This is illuminating: "A phenomenon that a number of people have noted while in deep depression is the sense of being accompanied by a second self--a wrath-like observer, who not sharing the dementia of his double, is able to watch with dispassionate curiosity as his companion struggles against the oncoming disaster, or decides to embrace it." Styron says that he "couldn't shake off a sense of melodrama--a melodrama in which I, the victim-to-be of self-murder, was both the solitary actor and lone member of the audience." Whew. In Leonard's, Out of Sight (listed above), Leonard uses Karen's reflection in the windshield as she drives and she begins to have that imaginary conversation with her old man. And I think this state-of-mind probably describes Sonny in Texasville.
    • Killshot, Leonard: In this one, Leonard has Wayne up on the steel, a high-rise under construction. He's standing on the steel and the guys on the ground think he's frozen but he's not, he's imagining scenarios, going through them, him taking down Richie and Armand. Leonard's stories, four of them now...out of 32 have incidents like what I'm talking about.
    • Pick-up, Charles Willeford: In this one, it's almost like what Styron described in Darkness Visible, this line, it might be interesting for that part of me that used to think things out, to sit somewhere and watch Harry Jordan, the machine, go through the motions. Harry isn't sitting in a theatre like Sonny in Texasville, but it sure sounds like the same thing is going on...Harry, a counter-man, a down-and-out painter with a wife and kid somewhere else while he's in San Francisco.
    • Honey Gal, Charles Willeford: Willeford describes a feeling of unreality, almost impossible to pinpoint, that made me feel like an observer watching someone else do very foolish things, amusing things, that were somehow unimportant to the real me. Maybe a branch on the time passages tree, not quite imagining something as in most of the other instances, although this one is like Sonny in Texasville and like Harry in his other story. Here is another from the story: the rest of the time I seemed to be outside myself, an observer, an anonymous member of a great movie audience watching some new kind of comedy on a life-sized screen, wondering how the plot would turn out in the end. So yeah, a kind of branch on the time passages tree.
    blunthead, Neesy, Autumn Gust and 4 others like this.
  8. carrie's younger brother

    carrie's younger brother Well-Known Member

    Great song!
    I have nothing to add to this thread though. :oops:
    blunthead, Neesy, Autumn Gust and 8 others like this.

    GNTLGNT The idiot is IN

    ....what jumps out at me, is Roland's prolonged "nap" in The Gunslinger....that was one hell of a time passage...
    blunthead, Neesy, doowopgirl and 8 others like this.
  10. Walter Oobleck

    Walter Oobleck keeps coming back...or going, and going, and going

    Thank you...I wonder if there's a way to view it online? I tried looking for something...found this one site spiritofbaraka and there was a link there 'watch it on u-tube' but when I tried the link it says it does not exist. There is another movie that has scenes that remind me of Booya Moon in Lisey's Story, probably the best example of from a King story where a character uses imagination...and in that movie...I want to say Will Smith played the part, but maybe it was another actor who looked like him? Anyway, there were moments when this character...where the scene changed from...reality? Trying to remember the movie...but the scene changed and the effect was almost kaleidoscopic...there were all these wild colors. And no I hadn't taken anything before watching it. I don't remember much else about the movie but I do remember that scene or those scenes...seem to recall it happening repeatedly.
    blunthead, GNTLGNT, Neesy and 4 others like this.
  11. Grandpa

    Grandpa Well-Known Member

    Years back, based on how much I liked Time Passages and Year of the Cat, I bought a "best of" Al Stewart CD. Sure enough, those were the only two songs on the album that I ended up listening to.

    When Stewart sings,
    A girl comes towards you
    You once used to know
    You reach out your hand
    But you're all alone, in these
    Time passages
    I know you're in there; you're just out of sight

    Is it just me, or do others get an instant image of someone who is spot center in a mental picture of melancholy-tinged regret for a potential that was never addressed?

    Sorry, back to the theme. In Of Mice and Men, in the denouement, the dialogue of what-could-be between George and Lenny is powerful and affecting.
    blunthead, GNTLGNT, Neesy and 4 others like this.
  12. HollyGolightly

    HollyGolightly Well-Known Member

    That's me too! But I do like Al Stewart. And my mind drifts through my own time passages all the damn time. I figured it happened to everybody.
    blunthead, GNTLGNT, Neesy and 5 others like this.
  13. VultureLvr45

    VultureLvr45 Well-Known Member

    I think you can see it on Hulu. http://www.hulu.com/watch/87520/chronos Or borrow it from a library on DVD. I enjoyed hearing hearing the commentary after watching it once as presente on DVD. It is available from Netflix. Although I'm not sure you would get the commentary with Netflix. It is interesting to understand No artificial light was used, also the score for this film was composed at the same time as the film was being filmed. Was made in 1985 and is formatted for IMAX films (which was the first way I saw it..remains stunning) This film spoke to me even though it had no words, love it so much. I told hubby when I am about to die to put it it on a continuous play loop so there will be beautiful images (if I don't kick it outside).
    blunthead, GNTLGNT, Neesy and 2 others like this.
  14. VultureLvr45

    VultureLvr45 Well-Known Member

    Time...by Alan Parsons Project ... seems applicable here. Many examples of re-living, reviewing, fantasizing, daydreaming, stepping outside of our normal time span exist. If I am understanding the discussion correctly, examples are requested?

    In Dr. Sleep, at the end, page 527, Dan sees Fred's life review.

    In Joyland, When Devin and Michael Ross are having a conversation, you get a taste of what Devin is thinking while he is speaking (I do like it, because it shows a relevant internal conflict). Others to follow.
    blunthead, GNTLGNT, Neesy and 2 others like this.
  15. carrie's younger brother

    carrie's younger brother Well-Known Member

    I forgot to mention in my first post... this song had been on my lips and mind for a few days previous to Walter posting this thread.
    blunthead, GNTLGNT, Neesy and 4 others like this.
  16. Walter Oobleck

    Walter Oobleck keeps coming back...or going, and going, and going

    yeah...examples are appreciated, Vulture. I'll have to look for that example from Joyland next time I read it...don't recall it...nor do I recall exactly the one from Dr. Sleep. But I do remember that one from Dr. Sleep that is like the one in Dreamcatcher--that back room of the mind, the file cabinets, locked up. That's the thing w/King's examples, it's more than simple imagination, like Booya Moon in Lisey's Story--an actual place. Too, there's a number of times when a character will have a single line of interior dialogue, usually italicized, that's kee-rect, George. Or say like in Needful Things...the characters see things not necessarily there, same as Jake under New York although there...what? I guess it really was. Don't know how to talk about it and no spoiler.

    There's this:
    • Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, Richard Farina...this one, this is where that Hundred Acre Woods (not/tip) comes into play. In this one, Gnossos is with the girl with the green socks. This time, she asks him to tell her about...things...wolf and so on. So in this one, it's like the time passage is...what? once-removed...a character needs to imagine things through the telling of another character. What does that say about reading? About our own imagination when we read? I like this example, too, because King's stories are chock-full of instances like this...the telling with the telling. Telling Tales in Wolves...Gordie in the Body where the tool is an actual story...or stories, from Gordie.
    Okay...back to school for me. Finished one safety video...on to another. Aced the quiz, too. Yippee ki aye! :)
    blunthead, GNTLGNT, Neesy and 2 others like this.
  17. Walter Oobleck

    Walter Oobleck keeps coming back...or going, and going, and going

    There are NO coincidences! What does it mean, though?
    blunthead, GNTLGNT, Neesy and 4 others like this.
  18. VultureLvr45

    VultureLvr45 Well-Known Member

    Nos4a2... Vic goes through Time Passages

    Joe Hills 'Horns' Several Occasions, between what is happening on the outside and what is happening on the inside of the protagonist.

    TC Boyle...several of his short stories..

    But one of my favorites..The short story written by James Thurber 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty`. He became so much more of a real character because we were permitted to see his internal world.
    blunthead, GNTLGNT, Neesy and 2 others like this.
  19. carrie's younger brother

    carrie's younger brother Well-Known Member

    Not sure. That I like the song and it "popped" into my head? That you and I are "connected" in some way? That Al Stewart is sending us subliminal messages?
    I like the last explanation!
    blunthead, GNTLGNT, Neesy and 3 others like this.
  20. HollyGolightly

    HollyGolightly Well-Known Member

    I have this and The Year of the Cat on a mixed CD my husband made for me, so I hear it often.
    blunthead, GNTLGNT, Neesy and 3 others like this.

Share This Page

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams