Thursday, September 10, 2015

Strutting and fretting my hour upon the stage...

Time is not a flow. The past is not gone, the future is not yet to come. Science has proven that time is just another coordinate, like lattitude and longitude. "Space-time" is a thing, time and space are not separate. This means that death is not an end. Death is a boundary. Birth and death are two coordinates that determine when a person exists. They exist -- we all exist -- where and when we live. Nothing is ever lost.

 I wrote those words nine months ago. Nine months of perceived time squandered; exactly two hundred and seventy days -- are they lost to the ravages of time?

I don't believe so. When writing the words above, I envisioned time as like the boundary of the surface of a table; just because the table has edges, does not mean it no longer exists.

This begs the question, however, why do we perceive time the way we do? Does it matter if everything exists, excuse the term -- language is so limited by our temporal experience -- "simultaneously," if all we perceive is one moment after another? If time is just another definition to our existence, a boundary limitation, how is it that the seconds flow into hours into days and all our yesterdays fade, while the future is never clear?

Logic can answer this question, so simply, and so elegantly, in one word:

Causality.

Causality is the relationship between two events, known simply as cause and effect. I described a table, above, but as far as our memory is concerned, time is a slightly different flat surface. Time may not be a flow, but causality is, and it only flows in one direction, turning this from a boundary on a table to a boundary on a river. Oh, the entire river exists between two points, but causality flows between those two points nonetheless. In fact, perhaps a better analogy than a river or a table is an ocean. The entire ocean exists between its shores, no matter where in the ocean you are. And yet causality moves through the ocean - like waves, but moving only in one direction. If the universe were an electronic circuit, causality is the great diode.

That's enough simplistic analogies. Let's apply them.

Events in the now imprint on our neurons, causing synaptic patterns we know colloquially as memories. As you look at your memories at a different point in time, new memory patterns have formed caused by subsequent events. Likewise, older memories have faded, caused by the actions of biological functions on the imperfect record-keeping of our gray matter. At no point have future events already inscribed themselves on our memories. And so, like a script in a play, at whichever point you begin reading, it reads the same. Mercutio will always invoke Queen Mab if you start in act 1, scene 4, but if you start in act 3, scene 1, he will always suffer Tybalt's blade the same way. And yet, at whichever point of the play you begin reading, Romeo & Juliet still exists in its entirety. If you go back and read act 1, scene 4 again, Mercutio's monologue does not change to reflect his impending demise, the play remains whole and intact.

Causality preserves the illusion of time flow. All points in our existence simply exist, but some consequence yet hanging in the stars remains a mystery to us -- at no point do you remember the future, and what's past is prologue, eventually fading like an ember in our ever shifting present. We do not, in our limited perception, have the option of being the reader and turning back the page. The play's the thing, and we are just the poor players, dramatis personæ, always reading the same lines depending which scene is being read. Perhaps the Bard was a bit more of a visionary than he knew.

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.

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