Insouciant Reflections on Temporality

There are realms between instants, whether waking or lost in thought, instants with histories of their own and their own laws of nature, peopled by persons we seem to know, sometimes intimately, but at other times not at all.  They are fully formed for just that eternal instant, and then, usually, they’re gone, receding in inverse ratio to how much we try to keep them close.  But not always.

I experienced one of those recently, transitioning from one dream to another, first focusing on many of the mistakes I’ve made in my life.  Then the dream morphed into speculations on how those errors might be corrected.  Humorously I considered how easy it was for grace-based deeply religious adherents of Abrahamic faiths to effect corrections.  First, admit the transgressions to the divine; second, feel honest regret; and third, ask the divine for forgiveness.  Sort of a compressed version of the twelve-step program recommended to repentant alcoholics but without having to seek forgiveness from the ones harmed or having to attain a recompensive balance.  No such luck for me, I thought, I’m a sort of orthodox agnostic panentheist, but perhaps, in abstraction, I have my own sort of solution.  At the other end of the spectrum, of course, there are the “laws” of karma and dharma and the Wiccan Rede.

The instant then morphed again into a sort of para-scientific panacea situated at the border shared by the spiritual and the mystic, the normal and the paranormal, science and philosophy, fantasy and reality.  It went something like the following, which I’ve sought to reconstruct from that instant’s psychic residue.

Try to imagine, eerie, mystic music as you read, perhaps played by enormous sentient whales, eavesdropping on my speculation concerning the interaction of physics, philosophy and the supernatural.  After all, in a dream, even a very brief one, it seems anything is possible:

My discourse, no introduction, it just starts in the middle:

There are purported givens in physics and philosophy with which some people, I among them, do not agree.  Not because through research, trial and error our interpretations of hypotheses have raised reasonable doubts, but because, as suppositions and purported facts and premises are fed through our cognitive, we experience intellectual heartburn, intellectual rejection, … without understanding why.  A sort of intuitive reaction.

For me, two fundamental premises of modern physics just don’t ring true.  That nothing can go faster than the speed of light and that time is irreconcilably one directionally linear, or that it is linear at all. 

The latter caught my fancy as I sat at breakfast with my wife, lost in that world we inhabit where we ponder, perhaps influenced by dream like experiences as we transition into wakefulness. 

In that dream-like state, I saw time, in its more linear variant, and as it applied to me personally, as though it were a private phenomenon.

Reflecting on my introspection, certain hypotheses occurred to me:

  • First; that linearly, time is anchored by two singularities, one on each end, one in my absolute future and one in my absolute past, each generating tides and eddies, waves breaking, creating an ever changing ephemeral balance. 
  • Second; that chaos, in the sense of all possibilities inchoately coexisting, is the ocean on which everything floats or else, subsides, submerged in a strange sort of Jungian subconscious, somehow linked with everyone and everything, but tenuously. 
  • And time?  Time is the behemoth which feeds on chaos, digesting those aspects it finds comestible and excreting them as apparently untransmutable order. 

But “apparently”, I recalled, is a qualifier.

Then, based on the foregoing, I posited that there are also ever increasing and strengthening eddies, counter currents and riptides originating in the past, comprised of nostalgia and regret, and that the further from the past one travels, the stronger they swell.  The pull of the past’s singularity irresistible but impossible to re-claim. 

I’d go back if I could, to relive moments that, in a sense, had become sacred, and to correct others that now seem profane. 

When I was young, it was the inchoate singularity from the future which was strongest, but as more and more chaos was digested, it was the singularity at the other end, the one I call past, that expanded its event horizon and gained in strength, and which made me wonder at the choices I’d made, the options I’d elected from the options chaos presented and on which I’d acted, converting them into what I perceived as realities.

Traditionalist theories, to me mere hypotheses, claim that entropy is intrinsically tied to temporal phenomena, that as one moves between the temporal singularities I imagined, entropy increases.  Something seems odd there as increased entropy seems to involve an increase in disorder, and an increase in disorder seems to imply a movement back towards chaos and away from order, the opposite of what I’ve instinctively postulated, which perhaps explains why I instinctively reject the notion that time travel towards the past is impossible.  Instinctively but perhaps also rationally, based on some sort of inchoate perception.  It seems an explanation, a connection I sense, although perhaps others, for their own reasons, may agree.  We live in a world that seems spiraling towards a new Dark Age as social pressures increasingly forbid is to think what we will; conformity, ironically in the name of diversity, like another singularity, a malevolent form of gravity, driving us away from the light.

I draw comfort from the wonderfully magical world of the quanta.  A rebellious outlaw world that keeps throwing obstacles at today’s Einstein premised universal laws.  As in other areas impacted by those miniscule rebels, hypotheses labeled theories relating to entropy which tie it to the purported second “law” of thermodynamics, appear to break down as reality approaches the micro.  In doing so, they lead me to intuit that quantic uncertainty might tear that specific premise apart, disassembling it into non-physical, elemental particles, each going hither and yon as each possible perception survives in realities of its own.  And that provides a bit of less emotional, more intellectual support for my predilections.  It also provides hope for a future free of conformity’s restraints.

The quantic seemingly justifies my insouciance as I wonder at the nature of linearity, and at how improbable a one-dimensional concept is and how three dimensions multiplied through time create spherical realities with infinite poles each anchored by singularities impacting the version of reality that applies to me.

As I exited my reverie, a warm feeling suffused me as I recalled that String Theory and M Theory posit that, based on mathematical probabilities much less fanciful than my predilections, there are probably many more than just four dimensions with which to play, … if only we could find them.

Then, … as usually happens, my visions and my perceptions and fantasies began to dissipate, increasing rather than decreasing the number of unanswered and unanswerable questions in which my psyche loves to bathe. 

I wonder what I’ll think, … sometime in some future, … as to what I’ve just written should I happen to read it again?
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

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