French Book Examines Chinese View of Time

 November 3, 2020

The Chinese version of the French book, Pourquoi les Chinois ont-ils le temps, (Why Chinese People have Time) has been recently published by SDX Joint Publication Co. The author, Christine Cayol, who has lived in China for more than 20 years, shares her observations in her writing on Chinese wisdom towards "time."

In the western world, the concept of time is linear, measurable and rational, which seems to be the result of subdivision planning and accelerated extrusion since the Industrial Revolution. This view of time always reminds people of progress, improvement and efficiency.

Unlike the western "race mode," the Chinese view of time is more like a "flowing water mode." In Cayol's eyes, Chinese people treat time in a more perceptual way, and can become friends with time.

"For the Chinese, time is neither a flying arrow at the target nor an hourglass measuring quicksand, but running water," she said. "Water can devour us, but it carries us and holds us as well; it seems weak, but is strong actually, and nothing can stop it from flowing into the sea."

Cayol used to be uncomfortable with the way Chinese dealt with time when she first came to China: They never make appointments, always change the time for a meeting.  However, as she became more familiar with Chinese culture, Chinese wisdom has been gradually imparted to her.

Life in China let Cayol experience the "vertical" view of time, which invites people to listen to their heart, to think and to love. Time in China seems to be perceptual, internal, beneficial and cherished. It is not a constraint, but life itself: It can be solid and fluid, fast and slow, hard and soft at the same time.

Now, Cayol likes spending five hours with friends to make dumplings or noodles. She believes it's a way to get along with each other, and no one will calculate the time it takes. Cayol also loves Chinese square dancing because people can dance together and everyone can participate. For her, square dancing is a special way to demonstrate the Chinese view of time: "Do not resist, dance with it."

"I'm not introducing a method; I just want to reveal a new perspective of time, which is completely different from that in the West. Adopting it will be just like using a foreign language — it gives us greater freedom in the modern world," Cayol said.

She hopes that Pourquoi les Chinois ont-ils le temps can be a cure for Westerners' worried hearts.

Pourquoi les Chinois ont-ils le temps also has been translated into Spanish and Dutch, and has attracted considerable attention from European society.




Please understand that,a non-profit, information-communication website, cannot reach every writer before using articles and images. For copyright issues, please contact us by emailing: The articles published and opinions expressed on this website represent the opinions of writers and are not necessarily shared by