An Inquiry about Time

Dale Houstman

A - Awful doubts... (L'ombre d'un doute)
1. Is there for you any convincing proof that time really exists ?
None. I've been told it "exists" (that is maintains an existence separate from space) but I have never been able to intuitively consider it as anything more than a function of spatial movement and change. The fact that it has no "reality" to me apart from observable spatial changes doesn't mean it doesn't "exist" as such, but it might as well not.

2. Couldn't it be possible that all our movements are not real and that all appearances are just a sort of holographic hallucination ?

Maybe so, but it wouldn't make any difference at any rate: it is an hallucination I am more than willing to except as unbeholding to me, and - in fact - have no choice but to accept as real.

3. Does any object, which has never been observed, but which is existing nevertheless, possess any temporal and spatial existence ?

If an object has not been observed, how can it exist except as a more or less interesting delusion? If one is speaking - for instance - of the famous "blue rose" of the imagination, it holds a place in the unique neurological arrangement necessary to have that illusion, so that is a form of existence. Such "ideal objects" are basically auras of some cognitive function, our imaginations doing their purest labor. And all for free!

B - Approaching Time

1. What is Time to you - is it a friend or an enemy ?

Neither. Insofar as it can be said to exist, it merely does.

2. Is Time something rather positive, negative or indifferent to you and why ?

If time is that element which makes ANY movement possible, it must be seen as positive. All the other effects are merely minor drawbacks compared to static space.

3. If you were given a machine allowing traveling in Time, where would you travel and why?

3.a. into the past ?

Certainly, if only to capture what is least preserved in histories: a sense of the "real life" of those not glorified by myth. And to reify my comprehension that progress is a disease as much anything.

3.b. into the future ?

It's where we're going slowly anyway, and - besides the obvious material benefits to be gained from "insider trading" - I see nothing particularly intrguing ahead, except if it were to view what the universe will be like WITHOUT humans.

C - Looking for the limits of Time

1. Could Time be limited by something ?

1.a. If yes please indicate by what and under which circumstances

I presume time is limited by the length of time...that is, the length of time space exists within. Of course, time as an observed and "considered" item will only last as long as the human imagination is here to fret over it.

2.b. If not, why not ?

2. Are there any means to stop Time ?

2.a If yes, which ones ?

Again: it depends on whether we are discussing the human "sense of time" (and all the mythology that suggests) or some "substance" possibly secreted by space. I assume a coma might "stop" time (although the body "left behind" will continue to experience its passage). If a "substance" leaked by space, it will end when space ceases to exist.

3. What is the contrary of Time ?

4. What is the biggest enemy of Time and why ?

Oblivion, because it erases any sense of time. This explains a lot if intoxications.

5. How do you interpret the meaning of the word "timeless" ?

A description of any idea or process or object which (at least) appears to withstand the most damaging aspects of time: certain arts, beauty, etc. A "timeless" cultural object will assume this aspect if it lends itself to permanent analysis via mythological ambiguity. The more a thing resists interpretation, the further it shall travel forward without losing its magnetism.

D - Parsing Time - Past, Present, Future

1. What does the present mean to you ?

Where my body is forced to remain, quite happily.

2. Where does the future start ?
In our consideration of it, but it recedes.

3. Where does the past end ?
For all intents at the Big Bang.

4. Explain the role of past, present and future within Time.

4.a. Do they play an equal roles ?

The past is a liquid mythology founded on memory (not necessarily one's own), the present is active cognition as it moves amongst physicality, the future is a projection usually baroque and inaccurate, although often (as in science fictions) quite poetically so.

4.b. If not, which of them is the most important ?

Since memories and projective imagination form part of the structure of dreams, and since dreams are the true ecology of the human imagination, I assume they are all important. It's a certain persistence of self.

5. Which statements can you make about past and future ?

They both nourish the present via the mythologizing imagination.

6. What are the most important meanings attached to past present and future?

The past is a lie we are tenuously obliged to. The present is a solidly build yet often shabby shotgun shack. The future seems the only way "out" and so often strikes us as forgiving.

E - Shaping and Structuring Time

1. What is for you the most important characteristic of Time ?

That it lends motion and promises nothing.

2. What makes you recognize or realize the existence or the passing of time ?
Motions of ALL sorts, physical, and imaginative.

3. Do you think Time has any direction ?
As an imaginative construct, only slightly. One can go in any imaginative direction. As a "substance" it only moves forward.

4. Does an expression like "the arrow of time" mean anything to you ?

A militant advance.

5. To which aspects of Time are you the most sensitive ? Please explain when, how, and why.

5.a - rythm ?

Although we often perceive time (like space) in punctuated sequences, and thus with a type of syncopation, in actuality both are continuous and streaming. More like a drone we notice then don't.

5.b - instants ?

When we turn our attention about like a satellite dish.

5.c - events ?

Large distastrous events (of which we now have so many it seems) aspire to leap outside time and space into the reiterations of grand mythology: little people attempting to swell.

5.d - encounters ?

Running into things suggest movement and thus time.

5.e - choices and decisions ?

I try not to make them.

5.f - irreversibility ?

Yes: the sense we are barreling down a highway strikes me as the most cogent argument for the importance of time.

5.g - newness and evolution ?

Again: movement as forensice debris of time.

5.h - continuity and duration ?

Both suggest a sort of comfortable stasis.

5.i - decay ?

The vehicle we are driving down the road in is starting to leak oil.

5.j - the coming of death ?

Never think about it. no point. Background noise.

5.k - other

6. Do you feel Time to be more like

6.a - a straight or curved infinite line ?

6.b - a closed line, like for instance a circle ?

6.c - a spiral ?

6.d - a forest of frequencies ?

6.e - an ever forking shape, like for instance a tree ?

6.f - a piling of geological layers ?

6.g - accumulated dust under your bed ?

6.h - dirty plates in the corner of your sink ?

6.i - other

A line that slowly vanishes into a star.

F - Measuring Time
1. What is the meaning of the clock as regards the conception of time ?
It is the commercialization of time.

2. If there were no more clocks, would it still be possible to mesure time nevertheless ?

2.a. If yes, in which way ?

Observed change: the sun, the moon, the water, my beard, kitchen dirt, etc.

3. Are you aware of special or rare means of measuring time ?
The TV schedule.

3.a. Which one(s) would you recommand or like to use yourself ?
I try not to measure time, as that is only space diverting our attentions.

G - Digging into common expressions

1. What does the sentence "I am wasting my time" mean to you ?


2. What are you thinking about the term "timebomb" ?
Only where I would place it. But one would not be sufficient.

3. How can you disprove the best the following sentence : "Time is money" ?

Money is often used in an attempt to purchase one's way out of change, as U.S. Civil War soldiers used to be able to buy their way out of the war.

4. Could you make a list of strange time related expressions in your mother language ?

A. "Time is of the essence."
B. "He sure clocked you good."
C. "Doing time by the book."
D. "Time is on my side."
E. "A stitch in time saves nine."
F. "Seconds of pleasure."
G. "A year by any other name would smell as sweet."
H. "Don't watch the watch."
I. "Time is tired."

5. Can you provide explanations about these expressions ?

A. Time matters more than sleep. Get back to work!
B. Watch out! He's going to punch your dial!
C. Keep your nose clean and watch your back. Get back to work!
D. Don't even bother starting.
E. Get back to work!
F. No stamina.
G. Comme ci comme ca
H. Get back to work!
I. Junior's bored.

6. Are such expressions of any help as regards building your own concept of Time ?

Not in the slightest. Except as they occasionally reveal how much of time is relegated to scheduling and labor.

H - Psychological and sociological aspects

1. Where is the place of the subject within Time ?

Everything corrodes and moves on.

2. What can you tell about differences regarding the meaning of Time within different cultures ?

Not as much as I should be able to. For the anicent Greeks their future (The Golden Age) was in the past: they had nothing to "look forward to" and so lived in perpetual mythologizing. I suppose such notions are rampant.

3. Where are the positive and/or negative aspects within these differences ?

The Ideal of Progress, which has brought us so much misery, is pernicious, and I prefer the backward/forward view of the Greeks. The Imagination is the best direction out of time.

4. Do you think animals have a comprehension of Time ?

I don't know what animals comprehend. I suppose their "comprehension" (if one can call it that, lacking a language) is entirely bound to food, water and the seasons.

4.a. If yes, how does it look like ?

A pocket watch without a dial or numbers and covered entirely in a moist fur

4.b. If not, why not ?

I - The Time of waste

1. What percentage of your Time do you think you are usually wasting ?

None. Sleep is work.

2. What sort of means do you use to waste your Time ?
I never waste my time. I do - however - seem to waste other people's time.

3. What are the most frequent rationale you use as a pretext for wasting your Time ?

I need no excuses.

J - The Time of creativity

1. Does your perception of Time change when you are creative ?

It disappears.

If yes, in which way ? Can you explain ?

The Poetic act occurs outside considerations of cultural demand. It takes all the time it needs, and feels no need to observe its rapine.

2. How do you feel about the following :

"When hanging yourself to the tail of the calendar, you are not likely to reach the edge of time You'd rather climb on the shoulders of the instants" - Narayana Reddy

2.a. As a poet ?

I feel it could be said better, and with less overt meaning, and - thus - gain in timeliness.

2.b As an artist ?

The same.

3. How are choices and decisions happening in your creative work ?
As much without an intrusion of "me" as is possible,

4. What sort of influence do you have on such decision ?

I don't want to know.

K - The Time of dreams

1. Would you agree with the statement that "there is no Time in dreams" ?

Yes and no.

2. Is Time transformed or altered in some way while you are dreaming ?

2.a. If yes, when and how ?

Time is rubbery and liquid.

2.b.What would be your explanation ?

The Imagination doesn't give a rat's ass for the rules.

3. Is the sequence of events preserved in your dreams ?

The sequence comes and goes as it pleases. Dreams are an empire.

4. Did you ever experience a reversed sequence of Time while dreaming ?
I rarely recall my dreams.

5. Did you ever experience Time traveling while dreaming ?

I don't know what era I am pacing in my dreams. It is mythological and thus repetitive and timeless.

L - The Time of Love

1. Does your perception of Time change when you are in love ?

It fragments and runs like ice cream in microwave..

Can you explain ?

The total dissolution of Imagination in Desire. A reaction that spins out precipitants for years.

2. Is there any relationship between your perception of Time while you are engaged in your prefered creative activities and your feeling of time when you are in love ?
In creative activities, time and space are quite and pale.
In love, time and space are noisy and red.

3. Does your perception of Time change when you are making love ?

The little death.

Do you prefer to make love quickly or slowly or extremely slowly ?


When, how and why ?

All times, with educated fervor, and because I don't want to be myself too soon.

4. Does your perception of Time change during an orgasm ?

No time/no space.

M - Knowledge and Time
1. Can you explain what are the relationships between Time and Knowledge ?
Knowledge is the professor of time. It notices and reevaluates its position.

2. Which <Token> come spontaneously to your mind when you are thinking about Time ?

Please replace <Token> by :

2.a. artists

2.b. poets

2.c. litterature and film authors

2.d. technologies

2.e. scientists

2.f. other

Diamonds and water and sheets of polyurethane.

N - Time & Newness

1. Do you think anything new appeared/emerged since the beginning of the past century ?

1.a. if yes then what ?

The coagulation and regulation of the human imagination by an eruption of media.

1.b. if not, then why and how ?

2.Which recent or less recent events, trends, activities, conclusions, etc... appear new to you ?
I think there is an emerging crisis of capitalism centering around the ravenous nature of profit and the dwindling of explotable resources, human and other-natural. But I'm probably wrong.

3. Do you think the world is

3.a. determinist ?

3.b. random ?

3.c. both depending on the considered aspects ?

3.d. a graduation between pure determinism and pure chance ?

3.e. not according to such categorizations that only reflect our mind's way of working and have no real meaning as regards the nature of the world itself ?

The universe operates on an oscillating thread between what MUST be and what is TRYING to be.

4. Can you explain what are the relationships between Time and Newness ?

Newness is one of the spatial motions that make time observable.

4.a. How do you explain that something new may appear ?

Either it is "real" newness engendered by individual imagination, or it is the "fake" newness prompted by the demands of Progress and Profit.

4.b. Do you think chance plays a role in the emergence of newness and how ?

Chance IS newness.