Monday, June 27, 2005

For some time I've harbored an intuitive suspicion that there is no "now," at least as we commonly perceive it. I think it's more likely our perception of the "present" is a convenient neurological fiction.

This uneasy sense of timelessness might be explained (or at least made comprehensible) if there is no "arrow of time," and we continually create the past just as we continually shape our future. We couldn't, of course, be directly aware of this since by modifying the past we perpetually create our own memories. If this theory is true, then the passage of time is an artifact created by the intermingling of past and future states. Jenny Randles examines this concept in greater detail in her recent book "Breaking the Time Barrier."


Bsti said...

I'm of the opinion that everything happens simultaneously, we just process it slowly.

Mac said...

That's more or less what I have in mind, too.

Kyle said...

Mac -

This reminds me of the numerous times in the past few years when someone would comment that the war was taking longer than announced, or that the 9/11 terrorists flying planes into buildings could have been foreseen, with cries of "revisionist history".

The absurdity of their cries were drowned out by their indignation, and a willing press.

History, like all human perception, is a movable feast. We often replace history with nostalgia, and believe that life in the 50s was innocent, or that life in the 60s was psychedelic, or the 70s were narcissistic, the 80s were anrdogynous, etc., etc. That these broad swipes of the historical brush are inaccurate is inconsequential to the "truth".

We are increasingly re-inventing the "past" to justify/rationalize/condemn things we do in the "present".



Mac said...

We are increasingly re-inventing the "past" to justify/rationalize/condemn things we do in the "present".

Try putting *that* on a protest placard!

W.M. Bear said...

The Cosmos is four-dimensional. Our consciousness illuminates one of those dimensions (time) sequentially (or what seems to it sequentially). This sort of what you mean?

Mac said...

That's essentially it. We perceive a "flow" of time, but that's just because that's the way we're "wired."

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