12 January 2022

Why is time so warped?


Time has a curious essence. Unlike the other three dimensions - length, breadth, depth - we can travel in only one direction through time: from past to future via the present.
 
We cannot visit a moment in time that we have passed.

Despite the past and future being simply two ends of one dimension, we take the past as cast in stone, and the future as unknown.

Travel into the past is impossible, travel into the future a dream.

How well do we ‘know’ our past & our future?

We fool ourselves that we ‘know’ both our past and our future with stories about each.

The story we tell ourselves about our past is called history.

We put a lot of faith into this story in some ways, but it seems unjustified. If history is important because it facilitates learning, how come our own history is full of stories that are like repeats on television where at some point, often much too late, we realize that we’ve seen this before?

The story we tell ourselves about the future is called a prediction. We put less faith into predictions in general, but curiously, we do put a lot of faith into some predictions. We have many imaginings about catastrophic futures – pandemic, climate change, nuclear war, etc.

All are quite possible, but we tend to focus on one at a time, a flavour of the month (or year). While the possibilities for global annihilation are plentiful, even infinite, annihilation by pandemic is the most current scare du jour.

Before death by pandemic was imagined, we feared annihilation by climate change. Before annihilation by climate change, we feared an ending in nuclear war. Before an end in nuclear war was imagined, we feared … and so on back to various doomsday scenarios, secular and religious.

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