Monday, March 19, 2012

How long does it take?

Check plus for sentences that name the speed of action.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick, 1851, Chapter XCIII. The Castaway
"Tashtego stood in the bows.  He was full of the fire of the hunt.  He hated Pip for a poltroon.  Snatching the boatknife from its sheath, he suspended its sharp edge over the line, and turning towards Stubb, exclaimed interrogatively, "Cut?"  Meantime, Pip's blue, choked face plainly looked, Do, for God's sake!  All passed in a flash.  In less than half a minute, this entire thing happened.
"Damn him, cut!" roared Stubb; and so the whale was lost and Pip was saved."

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, 1996, page 609 (see also page 871)
"Hester Thrale now has her pink-nailed hands over her eyes and is screaming over and over for nobody to hurt nobody especially her.  It's the Bulldog Item that holds the attention.  The two guys chasing Lenz around the Montego are unarmed but look coldly determined in a way Gately recognizes.  They're not wearing coats either but they don't look cold.  All this appraisal's taking only seconds; it only takes time to list it."

And here is a different idea that brought to mind the first two:
John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, 1974, Chapter 37
"There are moments that are made up of too much stuff for them to be lived at the time they occur."