Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Ramblings of a Mad Hatter

Confucius advised that one should study the past and divine the future.

Divining the future. Hmmm. Why should divining be limited to that?

I guess as well as divining the future, I could also divine "a" past. Isn't that what the author Elizabeth Kostava --- Is that how you spell her last name? --- did in her novel The Historian? You know, the one about Vlad? Isn't that the same notion as divining the future? Isn't it the same for any fiction? Isn't fiction simply a divining of something set back in history or of something set in contemporary times or something that could happen in an unset future? So we can study the past, but there's no reason we cannot put a spin on it that didn't actually exist except in our subsequent imaginations. After all, any subsequent imagination or remembering is a fiction. Similarly, we can do the very same thing with the future.

I guess, though, truthfully we can't do that with the present. The present is that knife blade that is cutting through the past and the future. It is here instantly and then gone; it is a point of decision making and acting.

Lately, I've been a little obsessed with the notion of time, which doesn't seem much like a notion at all but a reality. Only the Mad Hatter questions the reality of time. Each of these words on this page or screen come in succession. I can change their order and rearrange them, I guess, but doing so also has an order and succession. None of it is a mumbo-jumbo and totally at random. However, it seems like there is also mumble-Jumbo and totally randomness, like the dust floating through a ray of light.

The reason I hold time to be so critical is because I believe in free will. If time is simply a construct that doesn't exist, then it seems to me there is no free will. If time is simply another block, like we perceive height or breadth or depth, and has always existed in full form, then my will is not free. And if my will is not free, life doesn't seem to have any meaning or necessity to me. And intuitively I know it's not that way.

So I'll be studying time and the notion of free will even more in the next while. Those notions --- of time and free will --- seem so critical to me, although, if they are not real, I have to ask myself whether my life would be as meaningful as it has been in recognizing the possibility that I have misperceived it all along.

It just seems so unsettling to contemplate that as a possibility.

I have purchased a new book entitled From Eternity to Here by Sean Carroll. Its subtitle is The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time.

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