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March 2, 2009

The Ineradicable Stuff

I am not sure if one really can orient time to oneself, but I sure do love thinking about that weird idea. I painted about that too, a few months ago, in black and white and tones of gray for some reason, and I am still chewing. 
     
The scheduled accumulation of segments of time (the goings and comings of daily life) and recognition and response by others of shared time - these things tend to center time on the self. But I don't really understand why this should be so.
     
The conception of time was radically different to past generations. And that makes me wonder, has the portion of the human brain calculating and marking time been honed to center time on the self as some kind of a survival tactic? 
     
Proust famously (or infamously) created a lot of writing about the fluidity of time, but he was writing in his own time about his attempts to center time onto himself, without the aid of an external scheduled accumulation of time segments (i.e. an office job) or recognition and response (i.e. interacting with kids and friends). He had his memory only. Unlike pretty much anyone alive today. I suppose memory can serve a similar function as recognition or response; you tend to mark and center time on yourself when remembering past events...but to what end? 
     
Is engaging in one's memory an action taken for self-awareness alone, or is there another function? And do our minds jump to recounting experience when there is some slippage in the present marking of time? And why is there slippage anyway? Is it caused by stress, or joy, or other people, or is it just an outcome of being conscious?
     
So I wonder about the reasons for dwelling in memory. And what is the best reason to dwell in the moment? And why do we do both?
    
It can seem (especially when I watch the freaky spectacle that is "American Idol" or hear stories from friends with very small children) that for some, the essential function of just being awake is to center time itself around one's own needs and wants. 
     
I imagine that visually as a clock with hands not pointing to the recognizable numbers on its face, but rather pointing outwards, towards oneself...and while time moves forward, some kind of force (well, a whole lot of self-interest, I guess) must be exerted on those outstretched clock hands, in order to maintain the focus of time on the self. 
     
For others, especially those engaged in thinking about solutions to conundrums in physics or the search for life elsewhere, time seems to be a thing that is wonderfully vast and entirely impersonal.  
     
And for some others of us, the sense that time or forward motion has stopped (in moments of great feeling, while creating, when seeing differently) is what makes one conscious of time at all. And that consciousness can be imagined visually as of a kind of sphere of unchanging stuff that surrounds and holds you as you clearly, viscerally, wordlessly experience whatever it is that you are experiencing. 

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