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Monday, December 21, 2015

Enigma of Time


The experience of time is in part subjective. There is a constant accrual of information --organization of fluid events-- in the mind. Time is also physical. Relativistic time is a product of tremendous operations in the universe, involving propagation of electromagnetic waves --most visibly, light-- and the motion of all matter that has ever existed in combination with all that will ever exist. Our thoughts themselves are part of a frenzy of matter and energy that extends from the irreducible to that which cannot be exaggerated.

Is there, in this endless ultimacy of motion, a point of rest? That is the question I address in this philosophical inquiry, this essay. My experiment begins with a Normaphoto:
It was taken a couple weeks ago of our seasonal decoration, a European Pine I bought and which Norma arranged threadbound balls around. She did this while stripping our reference books from the shelves and painting things. I was unmoved.

It did not stop there:

Some books disappeared into the pantry, others into Goodwill Industries. The shelves went from orange to white. A week is an interval of enigma, time. A week had passed. I was unmoved. According to experience and astrophysics, yet another week has passed and, except for refilling my wineglass...

...I am unmoved.

I have collated the data. There is only one possible conclusion, and it too is a question: Am I the one true fixed point in a chaotic universe? Not a chance, I only think I am (after enduring Norma's energetic paintbrush) and you should think you are too. After all, how long can the spirit of humankind ask itself, "What the hell am I doing in all these bodies?"

So, upon this astronomical and personal advent of winter solstice, so sacred to so many, I invite you and our upwards of 7 billion kindred --despite havoc others conduct around you-- to declare yourself a true fixed point in this chaotic universe as well...and to all, a good night.


28 comments:

  1. You are proving my theory. Time does not exist. There is only now.

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    1. Now definitely exists and Norma always thinks it needs paint.

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  2. I find time to be trickier and more slippery than Houdini. I am so very grateful for your permission to declare that it stops. Here. With me. With you. With whoever else is feeling overwhelmed.

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    1. Time is indeed elusive but now is a reliable spot to find it.

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  3. Yes, a fixed point, a passenger on the blue planet which also seems a fixed point in an unfolding event.
    Those are beautiful orange shelves, btw.

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    1. Thanks, Tom. Planet will remain blue only until Norma decides what to paint it next.

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  4. A fixed point in the universe - or, more humble, in our life - is a beautiful dream. I agree with Shakespeare:
    “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” (The Tempest)
    And love Norma's witty ohotos on (seemingly) "frozen time"

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    1. Dear Brigitta, Norma provides the dream, and I furnish the "frozen" part.

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  5. Ah, your scenes are playing out in my house also. Time stands still for some and others must paint.

    I wish you peaceful and happy (and now more colorful) holidays, Geo, and some fine wine to add some glow.

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    1. My best wishes to you too, Arleen. These are good times.

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  6. I think there are lots of times when I'm in a fix. Does that count as being a fixed point in time?

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    1. Whenever we pursue precision in chaos, I think that counts.

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  7. Time is a myth and we, the masters of it.

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    1. We are practiced navigators of time, Delores, but sometimes it's hit and myth.

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  8. I'm looking at this through the lens of the Second Law, which implies that things get messier, disordered, with passage of time. Also, since the shelves went from orange to white, perhaps it's possible that entropy can be reversed, such as in unscrambling an egg....
    It's clear you have a closed system there, and a stable spot within.

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    1. Could be the entropic arrow of time is occasionally a boomerang.

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  9. Here I sit, and here I'll stay, though atoms collide and small worlds fall. :)
    Happy, bright Solstice and the best of your dreams come true, dear Geo., whether you ever move or not.
    Laura
    x

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    1. Thanks Austan. My best wishes to you as well. I DO move when in danger of being enameled with the shelves.

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  10. Clearly you have no cats in your household, for if you did those threadbound balls would have shown changes from one photo to the next to the next. In fact, they probably would have disappeared - matter lost forever, if my experience is any indication.

    All the best for the holidays, Geo. and Norma. Thank you Geo. for writing your tremendously thought-provoking posts and thank you Norma for providing the visual accompaniments!

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    1. Most perceptive! Who knows how much of the universe has already disappeared down cats? Happy holidays, Jenny!

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  11. I am in such a fixed point that I almost missed this enjoyable blog post.
    I tend to agree with Emma (first comment) - time doesn't really exist. And sometimes I get the feeling that I don't really exist, either. Life has too many enigmas to contemplate.

    By the way, I like the white bookshelves.

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    1. Existence is indeed enigmatic, Jon. Currently I favor the Swiderski Solution to Cartesian Dualism: "Cogito Ergo Spud."

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  12. I laughed and said to my wife that I am glad to know that I am not alone in the universe, there is another wife who decided to paint the living room during the Christmas season (and both used similar peach colors). My wife then said, "both of you should be damn glad you have wives that paint..." Enjoy the season

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    1. Sage, this could mean our wives are related. Happy holiday!

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  13. I like that first photo with the open window, the road reaching away into the distance, the orange shelves, the Christmas decorations to the fore... and the Philosopher suggested. Norma, it has a look of some deeply meaningful kitsch art work. I can only Comment on your blog Geo, when I exist in Internet Explorer, which requires a mental shift that has been beyond me for too long. Usually I exist in Google Chrome. Thanks for all your lovely comments over the year and whether or not you observe Christmas I hope you have been entranced by the brilliance of that heavenly body,the Moon, tonight.

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    1. Thank you, Lady M! Yes, we do keep Christmas here and have been marveling at the moon. My appreciation and best wishes to you this day and all days.

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  14. It's a noble aspiration to be a fixed point in the midst of chaos, dude. The passage of time be damned! Far better to be a steadying influence and a safe haven for those who are seeking a welcoming place to enjoy a glass of wine. There, with a contemplative philosophizing "rock" like you, time can take a hike as we enjoy a much-needed hiatus.

    I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas, and here's to (I'm lifting my glass in a salute) a less chaotic new year, where you continue to be our oasis of humor and out-of-the-box kinda thinking.

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    1. Thanks Susan. Cogito ergo dude, salud!

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