When reading through Only Revolutions, one of the things that interested me the most was the selection of dates and events listed in the chronologies. Most of the dates were not historically significant, so I was curious to see if there was a pattern in them. I started out by simply graphing the dates of Hailey’s chronology on a bar graph. On the graph, each vertical bar represents a date referenced in the chronology. As you can see in the graph below, time appears to be compressed near the beginning of the novel, and more stretched towards the end.
To investigate this pattern further, I then made timelines using the dates from each chronology. I also took into account the frequency of the dates in the chronology (i.e. the amount of time between each date). The horizontal axis of the timeline contains the dates which occur in the chronologies, while the vertical axis represents the amount of time in days that has passed between the current date and the previous date. I chose this format because it gives a clear, intuitive picture of the ebb and flow of time within the chronologies. The timelines are somewhat interactive in that the mouse cursor can be placed at any point along the graph, which will display the current date and date interval (frequency) for that data point. The links below grant access to the timelines.
As I suspected, Hailey’s chronology was densely packed near the beginning of the story, with the frequency of the included dates decreasing through the course of the novel, eventually skipping entire years between dates. Interestingly, the pattern of Sam’s chronology was exactly the opposite of Hailey’s. Sam’s started with a relatively low frequency of date occurrences, with the frequency increasing over the course of the novel. I think this is another instance of Danielewski including mirrored patterns in his works. Just as the upper, lower, left and right halves of each page exhibit mirrored symmetry, so to do the dates in the chronologies.
I think it is also possible that Danielewski might be attempting to illustrate what Joanna Drucker’s article referred to as “temporality”, or the changing perception of time’s passage. To investigate this possibility, I attempted to quantify the pace of the narrative throughout the novel, to see if passages in which the narrative appeared to move more quickly were correlated with the changing times in the chronologies. To do this, I tried to count the number of present-tense verbs on each page, as such language usually lends a more fast-paced feel to a narrative. However, I was not able to make this plan work with any of the text analysis tools I used. This is a good example of an inquiry where good old fashioned human reading may be more effective than a machine reading.
I also plotted the frequency of the word “time” throughout the text, as I was curious if Danielewski may have included a pattern between the usage of that word and the spacing of dates in the chronology. Although the usage of “time” is well correlated between Hailey and Sam’s narratives, there is no discernible correlation with the dates in the chronology.