clockwork and time

Sunday, July 22, 2018

2:10 a.m. Difficult night, from about 6:30 on. It occurs to me, I may feel better if I talk to the guys. Alpha state encourages healing, so – let it.

Guys, the moments of sudden clarity seem to be coming regularly. A couple of hours ago, I got two concepts that, I take it, were planted to elucidate your current themes.

No need to over-determine things. One path is as good as another. But since these things came to you (not necessarily force-fed by us, you see, but still, here they are), let’s look at them.

The first, about time, is clear to me now. The second, about strands, is not.

Copy the note you made.

[I wrote in my journal, an hour or two previously:

[“Superimposition of the ever-moving present moment over an underlying timelessness. Like the clock hand over the dial.

[“But, more complicated, each strand living a separate-but-connected eternal life. That’s going to take some explaining. I hope I will have energy enough to do it – and I hope my back muscles will stop hurting so much (or, at all). Hard night, but I’ve known worse. Much worse, and many of them.”]

So, you see, the ever-moving present is a true perception. Time that does not move or pass away is also a true perception. And so simple an analogy as a clock suffices to illustrate the fact, once you realize that the clock face is as important as the clock’s hands. Of course, once you replace analog clocks with digital, the analogy will disappear, and a fleeting, continually disappearing time will appear to be self-evidently true in and of itself, without the equally true opposite perception of eternal unchanging time. And, since people resist having to deal with paradoxical-seeming contradictions, everyone will be happy except those who wish to see beyond surface appearances to a deeper truth.

I don’t know why this wasn’t clear to me before. I have lived with clocks all my life, and I prefer analog to digital even in my wristwatch. But suddenly, voila, I got it. And I wasn’t even looking for it (or for anything); it just welled up during a moment of clarity amidst snatched moments of sleep.

Realize, though, that the analogy does not explain, but merely illustrates. If one does not “get” the underlying concept, one is unlikely to be brought to it by reading about the relationship between the hands and the face of an analog clock. However, for those who do see the dual nature of the temporal experience in 3D, the image may serve as a concrete example. Even in the mainstream view of time, it is clear that the present moment in some way traverses cycles of time. Seasons and days depend upon (that is, mark) the movements of sun and moon. There is a regularity to be measured. Months, too. But successive years, decades, centuries, millennia, are closer to constructs than to natural (and naturally measured) phenomena. So for that matter are hours, minutes, seconds, nanoseconds, etc. They can be, and are, measured, but unlike the natural (let’s call them) markers to time – the day/night cycle, the season, the month – measurements such as hour and its subdivisions, and years and their multiples are constructs. The Romans subdivided the day into hours which were of different length at different times of year. That is, their hours evenly subdivided their daylight, where your hours are fixed and, as we say, of arbitrary length.

Your point being, I take it, that our ideas about the nature of time are reflected in (and shape) the way we measure it?

Let’s say your ideas about the nature of time determine (and are shaped by) what you pay attention to, and the meaning you infer. The analog clock was invented during the Middle Ages. Prior to that were things like the water clock, that left no hint that time was anything but something that flooded by. An analog clock, unlike a water clock, unlike a digital display, reflects a view of the world as a place of eternal recurring cycles. It is still measuring only the movement of (or rather, through) time, but it adds to the measurement of movement a sense of periodicity. An analog seven-day clock merely adds awareness of a longer cycle. If you had a 365-day clock somehow, it would extend that sense of cyclical passage through time even farther. And, of course, you do, only you call it a calendar, and it begins measuring where an analog clock leaves off. And calendars too are subdivided, from the daily calendar divided into hours to the perpetual calendar with the pattern of months laid out in a pattern peculiar to each type of year.

(I know what you mean. Others may not. A perpetual calendar refers the user to a different page depending upon what day of the week January 1 falls on, and whether it is or isn’t a leap year. Fourteen calendar patterns cover all the possibilities.)

And you see, a means of measuring time that emphasizes predictable alternatives within predictable cycles produces in those who live within it (taking it for granted) a very different sense of the world than is produced by a digital display in a somewhat artificial environment. A simple clock, but its present or absence will have its effect.

And still it may or may not nudge us to realize that time per se does not merely move, does not arrive or disappear, is not created or destroyed.

It needn’t, but it may, in a way that other systems are less likely to do.

I am a little surprised that we have spent three-quarters of an hour discussing clocks and time. I thought it would get a brief mention and we’d be on to the second insight that came to me.

It was time warranted, because the point of view will be unfamiliar to many. Nor would you have lasted through the second discussion. This alpha state may be more comfortable, but it is not a cure-all.

I was rather hoping that it was.

Cure-alls are in the same category as “one size fits all.”

“But enough for now,” I’m hearing.

Yes. Nor do you need to transcribe this until you feel more able. There isn’t any rush; the words won’t move.

Okay, well, thanks and I look forward to hearing your comments on strands.

As you like to say, that may set the cat among the pigeons.

Well, I guess we’ll see.


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