Most Important—What An Event Means

Conversation In Thin Air Continues
July, ’80

“I read somewhere,” said Noel, “that in the world of space-time nothing changes; that all that has been and all that will be just ‘is.’ Like in a crystal ball, everything in space-time is just there, in Parmenidean stillness.”

“You’ve got to stop reading those ‘new age’ books, Noel,” responded Tony. “Nothing is quite that simple.”

“I absolutely agree,” said Noel, “it’s never simple, and that’s exactly the point. In Minkowski’s ‘absolute world,’ time, as a becoming, is abandoned. We have not learned how to express time as a becoming, either linguistically or mathematically. The temporal process that psychologically constitutes our inner sense of consciousness, in Minkowski’s ‘absolute world,’ gets represented in the absolute rigidity of a mathematical formula. It becomes time as a state of being. That kind of time, as H.G. Wells pointed out a long time ago, sees a person only as ‘slices of time,’ like pictures in a photo album. The time that gets represented in a photo album lacks the flowing, wheeling, qualitative determinations that constitute our inner sense of time. Without that kind of time there wouldn’t be any photographs at all because there wouldn’t be anybody to take the pictures. In space-time the ‘now’ embraces the ‘whole life,’ but totally left out of that picture is time as a becoming. Cassirer comes to the rescue here.

“According to Cassirer, the time where ‘the whole precedes the parts,’ where ‘organic unities’ are formed, that time constitutes personal experience–our inner sense of becoming. In that time we become from one moment to the next our future. In that time, the continuity of our becoming signifies living flux, which is given to our consciousness only as flux, a transitional flux within which arises the meaning of symbolism. Whether we take mathematical time to be the t-coordinate of an undifferentiated continuum or the ‘absolute now’ of Minkowski’s space-time, for Cassirer, either way, it’s still only a conceptual symbolic form, a symbolic form that is produced by our personal time, our time of becoming.”


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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One Response to Most Important—What An Event Means

  1. bwinwnbwi says:

    Discontinuity occurring in continuity (the ~bb of b~b~bb) not only permits the fruits of civilization to manifest, it also allows individuals to actualize their own personal potentials— actualization that gives pleasure and meaning to life. But, “time of mind” is not recognized by science. Time, for science, has nothing to do with actualizing potential; time is merely an objectified measure of scale.

    In the time of becoming, civilizations are born, endure, and are sometimes destroyed. Anthropologically speaking, at the time when animals refused to passively accept their environment and instead worked to actively transform that environment was also the time when animals acquired the rudimentary beginnings of “time of mind” (the implicative-affirmative’s symbol-generating capacity) i.e., the birthright of inquiry, analysis, conscience and imagination. So, we might ask, is it possible to reconcile this new concept of “time of mind” with the time-concepts of science? Or, to put it another way, maybe this new concept of time can help us to better understand why relativity theory and quantum mechanics are irreconcilable scientific theories.

    “Time of mind” or discontinuity occurring in continuity (b~b~bb), in any final sense, cannot become conscious of itself because it carries within itself a rift of nothingness. Without this nothingness our capacity for questioning and logic would not/could not exist. The ~bb of b-b-bb, like a chisel splitting wood (some call it psychological time), frees up the “participatory moment of a conscious self,” a consciousness where critical self-reflection, anticipation of the future, search for truth, concern for moral values and responsibility exist no where else in nature—except in what gets called the civilized world, i.e., the envisagement of ideal potentialities!

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