Winston Churchill’s Afternoon Nap

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Ever since Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity, time has been described as the fourth dimension of the universe, on an equal footing with height, width, and depth. Research in recent years (since Einstein) has extended the understanding of this basic force to realms beyond the physical. Jeremy Campbell, a correspondent for the London STANDARD and author of the well-received GRAMMATICAL MAN (1982), explores philosophy, history, physics, biology, music, cybernetics, and psychology in an attempt to synthesize the effects of time in our lives.

In the physical world, he covers theories of time from the ancients (Plato and Aristotle), the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution (Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton), to the twentieth century (Einstein). In the post-Einstein world, time is not an absolute constant, integrally linked to space, as it had been under the earlier world philosophies.

Biological organisms exhibit marked time-dependent behaviors. Circadian rhythms are reflected in changes in body temperature and blood pressure, as well as levels of production of certain hormones, over roughly a twenty-four-hour period. It is these changes which wake us up in the morning and make us sleepy at night. Winston Churchill liked to take a nap after lunch and before Cabinet meetings because he was taking advantage of a “window of sleepability” which allows us to fall asleep in the afternoon. Other cycles are longer than twenty-four hours....

(The entire section is 408 words.)