Time Travel Primer

It’s short-attention span day at The Chutry Experiment, as I continue to find things to blog about when I really should be doing other things. This time, via Craig Phillips at Notes from Underdog, a link to Jeffrey Anderson’s Time Travel Primer. Anderson breaks things into four basic categories, “Present Man in Past, Past Man in Present, Future Man in Present and Future Man in Past,” a move similar to one I tried to make in my dissertation (but without the gendered terminology, which Laura pointed out in the comments). I’m taking things in a slightly different direction in my book, but Anderson’s essay is a good summer afternoon read.


  1. Laura Said,

    May 31, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

    Not to split hairs, but is it always a man?

  2. Chuck Said,

    May 31, 2006 @ 4:35 pm

    Er, uh, good point. Those weren’t my categories, but I should have been more attentive to the gendered language of those category names. Now I’m mildly embarassed….

  3. Chuck Said,

    May 31, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

    On a quick skim through the article, I find it interesting that the author overlooks several films featuring “time jumpers,” most of which feature female protagonists, namely Sliding Doors and Me Myself I. Also no mention of Run Lola Run or another fave, Groundhog Day. Not sure how these fit the categories in the article, but I loved writing about them in my dissertation, especially Lola.

  4. Craig P Said,

    June 4, 2006 @ 2:48 am

    Thanks for the pointer Chuck!

    Regarding the use of “man” – believe me, I thought of it while editing, thought of changing it, but the thing is in this particular usage “man” is actually the English language’s – chauvanistic though that language, like most languages, can be – way of generally saying “humankind.” Or at least, it’s still listed in the dictionary as that way. Wikipedia’s entry for “man” notes “Man does continue to carry its original sense of “human” however, resulting in an asymmetry sometimes criticized as sexist.” So essentially, it’s still accepted as a way to say “human” and is less cumbersome than saying “man or woman” each time – but indeed, it is a bit archaic at this point and I’m all for progressing into some other use altogether.

    Groundhog Day could have been mentioned, sure, it is a less conventional use of time travel device in a story but to the protagonist he most certainly is stuck in time so it would fit. Run Lola Run is interesting case…at first glance it seems more the filmmaker playing with time rather than the character Lola experiencing time travel herself, but seeing it again recently it does seem she’s at least partially conscious of the time shifts. Sliding Doors seems to be pushing it because even more than Lola it really is the structure that is the time experiment there, not the narrative itself? Really interesting to think about though. I’d love to see your dissertation someday.


    PS: Mum’s the word but I’m drafting a screenplay that is time travel and the main protagonist is a woman. Won’t say more, though.

  5. Chuck Said,

    June 4, 2006 @ 10:36 am

    For the sake of my research, I’m more interested in opening up these categories, in part because it gives me more material to write about. The dissertation is on its way to becoming a book, but that’ll take a while. Interesting definition of that distinction (film’s structure versus narrative).

    Not to be too picky, but in most English departments, where such standards are generally established, the generic use of “man” would be considered inappropriate (from what I can tell this practice is probably pretty common to most presses at this point).

    I’ll be interested in seeing your screenplay, too.

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