Saturday, March 16, 2013
time on a line
I was trying to explain Darwin with a map and a drawing of time laid out on the dirt. "Will he be offended if I use a banana?," I wondered, before preaching aloud at him, "the past is on the left, the future's on the right!" He gave me a quizzical look and grabbed the avocado I'd been using to navigate my visual space. "And this here is now," I said, pointing with a banana. He leapt over the timeline, from left to right, and yanked the banana from my hand. "Well, that is a good question," I condescended. "How do you get through now? Now is nothing at all like a dot. There is only now, clearly -- what we're living" I said, struck by a revelation, and then, a banana peel, "and spatialized time is a uniquely human thing evolved because vision-based abstraction skills help dominate locales. And isn't it amazing," I continued, "how the human can reach back into a Shakespeare play written centuries ago and understand the word 'hair' to mean the same exact thing as the hair on their own head, in spite of the logically demonstrable impossibility of the existence of identical objects, and bring Shakespeare's hair into now, to keep it really alive for humans in a now, though it would, in any case, have been alive in some other sense, because there is no past or future, there is only change, only fading in and out in different forms?" My bonobo friend draped his arm over my shoulder. "I love you too," I said.