A Tale for the Time Being: Shared Time Beings

There is so much to talk about in this last section of the book, but one thing I found interesting was the inclusion of 9/11 as a major part of the story. While I was just a child and therefore hardly remember the event itself, let alone what life was like beforehand, I thought it strange that Ozeki would use this event to frame her story. All other turning points for characters had been deeply personal, such as Nao’s father’s suicide attempts or the summer she spent with Jiko at the temple. But what made 9/11’s inclusion in the story so interesting was that it connected everyone in the novel. Few events in modern memory have occurred that were strong enough to be felt and remembered all around the world, but 9/11 was one. By using this event and each individual character’s memories surrounding it, Ozeki creates what could be called a collective time being. The “time being” definition in this story is hard to grasp usually, but in this example, Ozeki clears up a lot of the confusion. In the epigraph of Part 3, a quote from Dogen Zenji, Uji reads, “To grasp this truly, every being that exists in the entire world is linked together as moments in time, and at the same time they exist as individual moments of time. Because all moments are the time being, they are your time being” (Ozeki 259). This passage explains that small moments link the world together, and while they may be experienced by one person, they can also be seen as the reader’s experiences. Ruth feels personally attached to Nao even though these are quite separate times and their experiences have never before been linked, but through the reading of the diary, Nao, the time being, comes alive for Ruth. I’m still a bit unclear on what exactly a time being is, but this passage and the inclusion of the 9/11 story helped clear up a lot of my confusion.

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