Monday, April 18, 2011
From this perspective
It is a curious phenomenon, but from any position of the worm’s body we have the ability to look back in one direction only. We are able to ‘see’ along our body in that direction, which we label the past, but we can’t see the other way, upstream, into the future. It’s as though a half of us is buried in mud (out of which we're slowly rising).
We possess theoretical knowledge of our feet underground, but our actual awareness of that part of our body is very limited. Intellectually we grasp that we stretch in that direction, but we have no idea how far. Because we have much less vision ‘upstream’, we declare that it hasn’t happened yet, and we call that the future. But that’s not correct. In reality, there exists just the one continuum. Every point within it is as real as another.
Re-enter the spark. Gentle as a butterfly, it alights along our tube’s length like a finger playing chopsticks. Or, because of the eye-blurring speed with which it performs, it may be imagined as a giant hand playing all eighty-eight keys at once—a chord more powerful than the all the grand pianos at the end of Sergeant Pepper.
Time, then, is nothing more than an illusion. It is the phenomenon that results from our (limited) ability to see or remember along one of the dimensions of our being. It is the equivalent of our ability to look down the length of only one outstretched arm. The other is shrouded in thick mist. Time vision is like a diode that allows electricity to travel one way only.
Suppose that someone is afflicted by not being able to retain memories—neither long-term nor short. For such a person time would have no significance, because you cannot sense the passage of time unless you have the abilty to compare the present with at least one previous imprint. Perhaps it’s like that for animals. Perhaps it’s like that for people with Alzheimer’s. Their lives would be lived entirely in the present. Maybe their perception of life is more accurate than ours.
But we’ve strayed from our brief. Let’s return to the topic thread. We were speaking of the spark that leaped. Very well then, after every such leap our consciousness quantum brings to life its host’s complete store of background memories. It is instantly updated.
However, that moment can occur at any point of the host’s life. Any point is as good as another. There is no objective ‘now’, you see. The present is no more special or real than any point in the host’s past or future. I may have started this book in say 2005, completed the first edition in 2010, be working on the second edition, ‘now’, in 2012, but who knows when you’ll read it? And when you read it for the second time? And when you loan it to a friend?
It’s like the universe expanding a thousand-fold. You wouldn’t be aware of it. You wouldn’t know that time was jumping about at random. At any point in your life, whether it’s your twenty-first, the day of your first marriage, or the day that the doctor tells you that you have six months to live, that instant would be perceived as the cutting face of life thus far. Click your heels together, and you could be anywhen.