Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's about time

1 June! You've got to be kidding me! This was the thought that ran through my mind as I rounded the corner into our kitchen this morning and, glancing at our wall calendar, headed towards the coffee-maker. Probably one of the reasons this strikes me so profoundly this year is because of the wet, cold weather we've been having. To give those of you who don't live in these parts some idea of what I mean, it snowed on Monday- Memorial Day. Normally at this time of year, we are well into the eighties and headed for the nineties. By contrast, this year we have only been in the seventies a few times, but mired in the 50s and 60s. Our furnace kicks on at night, keeping our house overnight at 67 degrees.

Apart from concerns about the weather, time certainly flies. In the words of Steve Miller: "time keeps on slippin' into the future." Philosophically time is an interesting concept, or category. St. Augustine took what we might call, truly for lack of a better term, a subjective position with regard to time, writing that time does not exist in reality, but is only a function of change, or more specifically, how we mentally and perceptively apprehend changes in reality. On this basis, Augustine contends that time cannot be infinite because it is merely the perception of change in the created order. For his part, Heidegger argued that time finds its meaning in death, in our realization that our days are numbered, that we are born to die. While Heidegger concedes that our own death is never an event in our life, he still holds that it is our awareness of our finitude that informs our understanding of time. Of course, these two takes on time are not inherently at odds with each other.

Another contemporary (note temp in the word- time conditioned) writer, Michael Stipe had this to say, "I believe... time as an abstract/Explain the change, the difference between/What you want and what you need"

The late writer W.G. Seabald, whose prose moves me every bit as much of that of my dear Frenchmen, Camus and Kerouac, in his book Austerlitz, wrote this about time:

"It seems to me then as if all the moments of our life occupy the same space, as if future events already existed and were only waiting for us to find our way to them at last, just as when we have accepted an invitation we duly arrive in a certain house at a given time."

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