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[personal profile] proximoception
Do you know what's bullshit? The notion that time is an illusion. "Mental construct" may work (may), but only using definitions of mental and construct that are very different from the ones evoked by that phrase. Brains making elevators to where the floors would be if the universe had thought to make any, is the viable sense - and of course by making us it in some sense did think ("think") to do so.

But anyway. It's no illusion. Clocks past the veil of Maya also tick, though the symbols on their faces likely change.

But saying it's illusory, faked, made has use as well as appeal, since it has us thinking about it a second way - as we can hardly have abandoned the first. The universe hasn't ended, but it will, and first we will, our feet will, our shoes, then all shoes, then any feet. So endurance can't be the standard by which things matter: if two nights in Bangkok are great that's because one is, which is because one minute is, or whichever the shortest unit of time is in which one can fit a riveting game of chess - or whatever that guy was talking about.

You can argue that only holds when we're falsely convinced that such nights will somehow endure, but (as we've hardly abandoned the mode of thought valuing them) such false convictions will return, so one thing we can do when contemplating eternity, or long-ternity, or a-ternity is plan for how to love once we love again. Which is to stick to moments, to individuals, to what's here. Even if we have to lie about them, which I doubt we really do. Is a photograph a lie for having edges?

It feels crazy but it's true: next year can't matter and today can't not. If we have to think of next year then that's a problem, an inhabitant, of the present, so in fact a preoccupation with a certain sort of representation of it. We're obsessed with the portrait of the future next to the mantel, not with the future. Might not seem to mean much in practice but the principle does: let go of what will happen and embrace your ideas about what will happen.

Try to make them good, though. Really, really plausible. For everybody's sake. Because what I've really been talking about is ethics, which is a fancy word for avoiding premature suicide (which, since there's only now(s) and never later(s) (though there are likely later nows) is any suicide). You can ignore what I've been saying and be good but you won't know why. And a time will come when you can be even better if you know why, according to the word balloon on the portrait near my mantel.

Almost certainly you know all this. If so, maybe reading this, or realizing how badly I've put it, will help you say it better. Say it such that you never forget it, I would wish. Then maybe you'll tell me so I'll stop forgetting it so often. Because believing in the wrong sort of time is what most of our fuckups reduce to.

Date: 2017-01-02 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
June Second, 1910

Date: 2017-01-02 07:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, basically. Love that part.

Date: 2017-01-02 04:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for this. Can you say something more about this part:

"We're obsessed with the portrait of the future next to the mantel, not with the future. Might not seem to mean much in practice but the principle does: let go of what will happen and embrace your ideas about what will happen."

It's the reverse of the conventional wisdom (especially here on the West Coast), which is to "release your expectations" about what will happen. So, not embrace your ideas about what will happen, at all.

Date: 2017-01-02 08:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A modeled/projected moment usually comes to differ from a lived one - superimposing it over the present moment can help it retain that lived quality, but large differences between them will mean focusing on one rather than the other, making the nips and tucks of imagination that accomodate the world brought to the surface to the underlying "frame"-world an increasingly distracting nuisance as details are added. The temptation will come to abstract one away from the other. And then when one focuses on just one of them, as one will often come to, that will be assumed to BE the world and the assumptions about life logically proceeding from its taking place on only that world will be adopted. We'll be on Duck planet or Rabbit planet, neither of which is an actual planet although both are superficially much easier to talk about than this one - both the "there is no present because it's always all been over" one (or its "there might as well be no present because everything meaningful will soon and forever always have been over" near-equivalent) and the "there is no future anyone can know" one (or it's "there might as well be no such future because no one seems to know what they do know" cousin). Modeling time as space and deciding time cannot be modeled at all are not just modern approaches but ancient ones. We fall into being too sure and into being too unsure, basically, and these can look a lot like each other since oversurety makes us unable to make sense of a lot of things, and overunsureness makes us too afraid of the limits examination to examine various things we're unconsciously sure of (and, of course, sure that various things belong in the "unsure" category that in fact don't). Both mix everything up while looking no more mixed up than reality, which is probably what makes them dangerously appealing - there's always some soldier in there whose wife we're after, and instant banishment at the shift of a paradigm is always something we're capable of, so trouble's our stalker.

So we need models of the future that stay present in the present without either being engulfed by it or taking it over - houses that manage to stay on the elephant's back. It requires humble self-awareness about what's necessarily artifice as well as immense confidence in - and restlessly looking out for possible expansions/reforms of - just how much reality can be mimicked by, suffused into or assembled as artifice. And when all of this fails and we fall and our house with us and everyone gets trampled we need to still remember that the alternatives are worse in the long run because they silently destroy worlds rather than clamorously breaking bones and that successes do happen so will again.

I trust my awesome 3:00 a.m. explanation will itself need no explaining ever.
Edited Date: 2017-01-02 08:43 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-01-03 09:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
FWIW, this comes at a very helpful time.


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