The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann

pg. 37

“Keep quiet! I’m very clear-headed to-day. Well, then, what is time?” asked Hans Castorp, and bent the tip of his nose so far round that it became white and bloodless. “Can you answer me that? Space we perceive with our organs, with our senses of sight and touch. Good. But which is our organ of time—tell me that if you can. You see, that’s where you stick. But how can we possibly measure anything about which we actually know nothing, not even a single one of its properties? We say of time that it passes. Very good, let it pass. But to be able to measure it—wait a minute: to be susceptible of being measured, time must flow evenly, but who ever said it did that? As far as our consciousness is concerned it doesn’t, we only assume that it does, for the sake of convenience; and our units of measurement are purely arbitrary, sheer conventions—”

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