Friday, April 15, 2011

Russian nesting dolls

At this stage I’d like to introduce an alternate way for how time operates. I’ll demonstrate that it’s a dynamic phenomenon that can be brought about through a static process. I’m not going to ram it down your throat. I just want to admit that it holds water, that it’s airtight and that it could stand firm.

We’ll begin where we left off: that time is a collection of instants. In other words, time is quantized, discrete, digital or particulate (enough synonyms already). I suggest that consciousness results when a set of memory moments is uploaded into a particular instant. Now then, if this includes the awareness of a set of other 'consciousness-quanta', together with their cqs, nestled and contained . . .

Rats, I've lost you again.

How am I going to do this? How did Einstein keep it simple?

Okay, picture this. Have you ever created your own cartoon? Maybe back at school during an especially dull lesson you might have drawn a little figure down in the corner of your exercise book. On the next page you drew it again, but slightly altered, and again on the following pages. When you reached the end, you had something to show your friends. You told them to look as you flipped through the pages. Your stick figure skipped, walked, ran, jumped and flew (you were inventive). In essence, you brought your little animus to life.

In reality, of course, our little fellow doesn’t move. It’s static. It appears to move when we bring it alive, and maybe that’s what it thinks of itself too. But before you smile indulgently at Mr Stick, consider this. Perhaps on a higher plane the same principle applies to us.

Perhaps ‘upstairs’ some mechanism is operating to flip through a book of our leaves. Perhaps a wind is blowing through the pages of our calendar. There could be a giant thumb progressing us through time. We appear to be alive, but that may only be apparent. To our selves our bodies seem fully fleshed, but on a higher level we may just appear to be transparencies.

And the way that this illusion could be brought about is through memories. They might be the driving force. Memories, as an awareness of a set of other moments of awareness, could be the key. We define that set of memory awarenesses as ‘our past’.  We know they have happened. Or, more accurately, we say they have happened because we know about them. It feels as if we have lived through those moments.

To illustrate what I mean let’s look at birthdays. Mine, if you like. Shall we start with my tenth?

At that age, I hold the memories of my ninth, eighth, seventh and-so-on birthdays in my head. The memory of each of them includes the memories of all previous ones (at nine I remember 8, 7, 6 . . . at eight I remember 7, 6, 5 . . .) They come tucked inside one another like Russian nesting dolls.

What that nesting gives rise to is the passage of time. It has the effect of flipping pages without any action needing to occur. Nested memories flip without any external help.  You see, whatever age you are, you see that as the latest in a chain of memory instants. This produces the illusion that you just have arrived there, as if having just stepped off bus.

Now, the flipping does not need to happen in a particular order. Imagine that you’d drawn your stick figures on a deck of cards. If then you shuffle them, you’ll witness the most amazing thing. It doesn’t alter the illusion! I’ll say it again because this is important: shuffling the deck doesn’t make a scrap of difference. In every case it will seem that life proceeds in an orderly fashion. How could that be?

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